The new Daewoo Leganza
is a surprisingly good sedan scheduled to go on sale here in August 1998.
Never heard of the Leganza
? Or even Daewoo
? The Leganza
is the top-line model from Daewoo
Motor America, which is a subsidiary of the Daewoo
Group--a giant South Korean industrial firm. Besides the Leganza
will offer the lower-priced Lanos and Nubira autos in this country. Daewoo
Motor said its cars will start at approximately $9,000, and that the Leganza
will cost ``from $15,000 to $20,000.''
Cars from South Korea once were marginal and didn't have much success in the United States. But Daewoo
did its homework with the front-wheel-drive Leganza
, which qualifies as a mid-size car because of its 105.1-inch wheelbase and roomy interior.
The nicely painted Leganza
looks slick partly because it received major design input from Italian master auto stylist Giorgetto Giugiaro. The car is fairly well-equipped, with items such as air conditioning, anti-lock brakes and power door locks, windows and mirrors.
Options will include a traction-control system for better grip on slippery roads and a power sunroof.
There's room for four tall adults in the quiet interior--or five in a pinch, as the center of the rear seat is reasonably soft for a third backseat occupant.
The comfortable front seats are surprisingly supportive for an auto that's not billed as a sports sedan. My test car's upholstery design had a bizarre-looking pattern, but leather upholstery will be optional.
The trunk is impressively big, and fold-down rear seatbacks increase the cargo area--although they don't fold completely flat.
The fairly large, nicely located controls work smoothly. But there are no front armrests or large front console storage area. And front doors have only small storage compartments.
The inside door handles are conveniently located but front door armrests are too narrow to provide much support. The Leganza
is an upscale Daewoo
, so vanity mirrors on the sun visors should have covers.
The 2.2-liter, 131 horsepower engine has a modern dual-overhead-camshaft design. It provides lively performance, with good acceleration off the line and during 65-75 m.p.h. passing maneuvers. However, the rather small four-cylinder must be worked hard to get such performance.
The economical motor is hooked to a responsive four-speed automatic transmission, which shifts well but also ``hunts'' a lot for the right gear to help provide the best acceleration. A five-speed manual transmission will be standard and should help make the car a bit faster.
The supple, all-independent suspension provides a comfortable ride. Handling is decent but would be better if the tires weren't designed to mainly help provide a soft ride.
The power steering gets an average rating because it feels too vague, but the brake pedal has a nice feel and stopping distances are short.
The old-fashioned hood prop rod should be replaced by hydraulic struts, but Daewoo
generally has come up with a very sound car that will sell for less than many rivals.