Review and road test of the Daewoo Nubira (1999 - 2002)
NU FACE, SAME SHOES
BY ANDY ENRIGHT
It's sometimes difficult to keep pace with Daewoo. Take the Nubira model as an example. Launched in 1997, the car was extensively revised in 1999 before being replaced with an all-new version in 2002. Quite how many iterations ahead the product planners in the Korean nerve centre are working is anyone's guess but rapid product turnover seems a certainty. If you're not too concerned with having the very latest thing a second generation Nubira, sold between 1999 and 2002 makes a lot of sense. You're getting a lot of car for not very much money and it's a good deal more modern than you may expect.
Models Covered: 4DR SALOON, 5DR ESTATE: [1.6SE & 2.0 CDX]
Although the Nubira was launched to the British public in September 1997, the range received a major restyle in July 1999. In came a new corporate front end with a three part grille and big, clear lensed front lamps. The back was more angular than the rather curvaceous original and there were gas struts to hold the boot open and bigger door mirrors fitted with electric defrosters. The interior got shapelier seats with a much better range of adjustment and metal look finishes for the centre console.
Anti lock brakes had long been on the Nubira standard equipment list but the 1999 car got brakeforce distributors that directed retarding power to the front or rear as necessary. Steering revisions improved feel while Daewoo also worked on reducing noise, vibration and harshness. The engines were also tweaked to offer fractionally better performance and economy. Both saloons and estates were available.
What You Get
Known in the industry as one of the 'British Daewoos' due to much of the development work having been conducted by the now-defunct Worthing technical centre, the second generation Nubira feels a good deal less Asian-generic than you may expect. The existing Daewoo proposition of comfortable, no-hassle motoring proved popular with a goo d number of mainly mature buyers and as such many Nubiras will have led a relatively easy life, often covering low mileages and having been serviced bang on the nose every time.
The Nubira is reasonably well specified in standard trim, with the base Nubira, the SE, being fitted with air conditioning, twin airbags, immobiliser and alarm, four speaker RDS radio/cassette, metallic paint and body colour bumpers. The 2.0 CDX model can most easily be identified by its electrically adjustable/heated body coloured door mirrors, and is also fitted with rear electric windows, six speaker stereo system and front fog lamps.
What to Look For
To date no significant faults have been noticed with the Nubira. In order to get the best from the warranty package check to ensure that servicing has been carried out at the specified intervals. A bargaining point will be the residual warranty left on the vehicle, which is why the early 1999/2000 model year cars are now so very affordable.
(approx based on a Nubira 1.6 SE) Daewoo parts are considerably cheaper than they were in the pre-GM era. Therefore, a clutch assembly will be around £105 and a battery should be close to £50.
Brake pads are around £17 a front set with a cam belt relieving you of £30. Set aside £70 for an exhaust system centre section, whilst an air-filter will see £8 disappearing from the current account.
On the Road
Whilst not competing on the same plane (as regards handling) as the Mondeo, Primera or 406, the Nubira's comfort-oriented perspective provides a cosseting ride. The design aspiration for the car was for a competitive mainstream product, and whilst the Nubira won't cut a dash in the car park or make its driver seek out a favourite set of bends, it nonetheless makes a fair fist of the basic requirements. The improved steering response of the facelifted 1999 car makes it a more satisfying tool to hustle than the first cars to hit these shores and the added refinement at speed is a boon on long motorway journeys. The brakes have a solid progressive feel although gearchange quality isn't a standout feature.
Although eclipsed buy its 2002 successor, the second generation Daewoo Nubira nevertheless has something to be said for it if inexpensive, reliable transport is your priority. It still feels acceptably modern and both engines available are rugged, well regarded units. Unless you lumber yourself with ex-fleet stock few cars will have suffered abuse at the hands of uncaring owners and besides, there's not a whole lot to go wrong. The Nubira may not go large on style but it's certainly sensible.
Daewoo Nubira (1999 - 2002) review by ANDY ENRIGHT