Daewoos have long been seen as vehicles for those people who don't particularly like the hassle a car can bring.
With long lists of standard equipment and free servicing for the first three years, along with free breakdown cover, they were always aimed at those for whom cars were a necessary evil.
Customers turned up at Daewoo centres (not dealers) where they were allowed to look at the vehicles on display without being badgered by pushy sales personnel, and if they did decide to buy, they paid the sticker price.
However, things have changed.
Daewoo's South Korean parent company went to the wall and General Motors, along with the creditors of the old Daewoo Car, picked up the pieces.
The Nubira is the second launch for the new GM Daewoo, and while it carries over the name of the previous medium car, the company felt it had to raise its game to help it compete with more established marques on an even keel. To do this it had to continue to offer the good things from Daewoo in the past, but try to outshine its budget rivals.
The unrivalled free servicing, roadside assistance and warranty is still there, but there is a new network of dealers – some already with other GM franchises – and if you try hard enough they might knock something off the list price. For fleets, many of the dealers have experts who will have had previous experience of business sales through Vauxhall, Saab or another franchise now shared with Daewoo and should be able to deal with the requirements of smaller fleets.
The basic Nubira offered in the UK comes in the shape of a sensible-looking and smart saloon (an estate will follow next year along with the more dynamic looking Lacetti five-door hatchback).
In 1.6 SX guise it comes with four airbags, ABS, air conditioning with a chilled glovebox compartment, 15-inch alloy wheels and a storage tray under the passenger seat. Not bad for a shade under £11,000 on-the-road.
Power comes from a 108bhp 1.6-litre engine which offers a 0-62mph sprint time of 10.7 seconds and theoretical top speed of 116mph.
I remember the old Nubira quite well and once compared it with my Daewoo vacuum cleaner. It was cheap, did the job required and was rather noisy.
However, noise insulation must have been high on the agenda for the designers of the new Nubira. It still has the rough edges at higher revs but it is far more subdued when driving normally.
Although it is quite well equipped, a CD player rather than a cassette player would have been nice on this entry- level model, as no-one buys cassettes any more, even people in the market for budget cars.
And the pattern on the light grey seat fabric will not be to everyone's taste (or perhaps anyone's) – the swirling patterns putting me in mind of strange dreams when under general anaesthetic at the dentist.
The Nubira is a reasonable drive, but does nothing to excite. There isn't too much in the way of body roll and the ride is comfortable most of the time. The steering is a bit lifeless but being exciting isn't the point of the Nubira. It feels quite solid and if GM Daewoo has scrimped on materials, they are certainly well hidden from view. All those in the cabin feel well made and well screwed together.
Nubira fact file
Daewoo Nubira 1.6 SX
Delivered price, standard car (P11D value): £10,825
CO2 emissions (g/km): 178
BIK % of P11D in 2003/04: 19%
Graduated VED rate: £145
Insurance group: 8A
Combined mpg: 38.2
CAP Monitor residual value: £2,775/26%
Depreciation (12.78 pence per mile x 60,000): £7,668
Maintenance (1.79 pence per mile x 60,000): £1,074
Fuel (9.59 pence per mile x 60,000): £5,754
Wholelife cost (24.16 pence per mile x 60,000): £14,496
Typical contract hire rate: N/A
Three rivals to consider
DAEWOO'S Nubira is an obvious rival for the Hyundai and they are identical on P11d price. For a few hundred pounds more you could choose a mainstream rival in the form of the Citroen Xsara. Meanwhile, the often overlooked Mitsubishi Carisma seems a bargain, costing about £500 less than the Daewoo. One budget brand from the Far East has been excluded from this comparison – the Proton Impian at £12,000 on-the-road is just too expensive.
DAEWOO'S free servicing package manages to make it the cheapest car for SMR costs. With servicing costs excluded it gives the Nubira a handy £198 advantage over its nearest rival, the Hyundai. While other manufacturers have recently begun jumping on the free or 'fixed' servicing costs bandwagon, it has to be said Daewoo got there first. The Mitsubishi works out £30 cheaper than the Citroen over three years/60,000 miles.
ALL of these cars have fuel consumption in the high-30s mpg, which is respectable but not outstanding. Daewoo's problem in the past was the use of fairly low-tech engines. However, following the recent new products, it seems that Daewoo is now included in the mainstream when it comes to fuel consumption which puts the focus back on other running cost areas. However, the Citroen Xsara is top of the pile, offering a saving of £156 over the Daewoo over 60,000 miles.
NONE of these figures make easy reading for the fleet executive, although with a CAP Monitor residual value of 30% over three years/ 60,000 miles, the Mitsubishi Carisma seems a better investment than many volume lower-medium cars. The Daewoo Nubira carries on where the old model left off on 26% over the same period. Although CAP puts the Elantra at 25%, its lower pence-per-mile rating indicates more support from the manufacturer with greater scope for discounting compared with the fresh Nubira.
THE new Nubira scores well when you add up all the figures, but it can't quite match the Carisma. The Xsara comes third, despite having the highest list price, with the Elantra bringing up the rear. The difference in running costs between the Carisma and the Elantra over three years/60,000 miles is £330 – not a huge difference but to a small business with a tight rein on the bottom line it could be a key factor in deciding which budget car really does fit the bill.
Emissions and BIK tax rates
THE Daewoo and Hyundai are tied on benefit-in-kind tax with identical P11d prices and falling into the same tax band. However, the Citroen Xsara makes the best use of its emissions advantage to offset its higher list price advantage and prove the most tax-friendly for the company car driver, costing a 22% tax-payer about £33 a month for the remainder of this financial year. The Nubira and Elantra are nearly £5 a month more with the Carisma between the two.
THE new Daewoo Nubira does exactly what is expected of it and gives fleets the option of buying a well-made, well-equipped budget car at a reasonable price. However, in this comparison it is beaten by the underrated Mitsubishi Carisma which, in an area where cost is king, must get our vote.
At a glance