Review and road test of the Daewoo Leganza (1997 - 2003)
BY ANDY ENRIGHT
The Leganza marked a diversion from Daewoo's initial strategy of unadventurous small cars. As part of the second wave of Daewoo vehicles to arrive in the UK, and a more ambitious offering than anything the Korean giant had yet introduced, the Leganza placed a toe in the water in a marketplace brimful with quality offerings from the mainstream manufacturers. Going up against established competition such as the Ford Mondeo and Peugeot 406 was never going to be easy, but the combination of luxurious levels of trim and a very competitive price aimed to give the Leganza the best possible chance.
Traditionally appealing to a mature clientele who place a premium on value, reliability and a watertight warranty agreement, Daewoo's models won't attract those who prioritise refinement and handling. It's well equipped, should prove reliable and you won't see many other ones out on the road.
Models Covered: 4dr saloon, [2.0SX, CDX & CDX-E]
The Leganza was launched to the British public in September 1997. The range has remained largely unchanged since launch except for the introduction of the CDX-E model in 1998. The four-door body shape was the sole variant, as was the 2.0 132bhp engine as fitted to the Nubira CDX models. Whilst not as punchy as in the smaller, lighter, Nubira, the overall comfort bias of the Leganza does not encourage press-on driving.
There were three available trim levels, the base SX, the CDX and the range topping CDX-E model. All variants are available with the option of five speed manual or automatic gearboxes. The last Leganza models were sold in early 2003.
What You Get
In short, almost everything. As befits the top model of a new range, Daewoo went out to stuff as much standard equipment as possible and this bumped new prices uncomfortably close to more charismatic four door saloons such as the Rover 75 and Alfa 156. A short drive in a Leganza can turn into a major button-pressing experience. Even the base SX model adopts a belt and braces approach with an electric sunroof and air conditioning as standard. Weigh in tinted glass, a fiendishly complex six speaker stereo system, electrically adjustable/heated mirrors and remote central locking with immobiliser and alarm and a clear picture begins to emerge. Specify any of its similarly priced rivals to this level and the comparison becomes fatuous.
The CDX model adds alloy wheels and a cleverer climate control function, ultrasonic alarm, leather steering wheel and wood effect trim. Specify the automatic and a leather gear knob is standard.
At the top of the tree is the CDX-E. Specifications here are similar to the CDX but with the addition of Phillips CARiN satellite navigation, larger alloy wheels, leather upholstery, electric drivers seat and a Sony 10 disc autochanger.
Despite, or perhaps because of, its luxury pretensions, the Leganza has sold in numbers most generously described as modest. Privately sold models are rare, and the best chance of securing one may well be through a Daewoo franchised dealer. Expect to see three year old cars which are just out of warranty for sale in increasing numbers, and these should represent an interesting bargaining opportunity.
What to Look For
No significant faults have been noticed with the Leganza to date. In order to get the best from the warranty package check to ensure that servicing has been carried out at the specified intervals. Due to its generally mature customer base, a Leganza will probably have led an easier life than many more dynamically acclaimed rivals.
(approx based on a Leganza 2.0 CDX) Spares prices could well be Daewoo's Achilles heel. As with many foreign cars which sell in modest numbers, parts prices aren't pitched at the levels those accustomed to Ford and Vauxhall have come to expect. Therefore, a clutch assembly will be around £129 and an alternator should be close to £235.
Brake pads are around £59 for a front set with a starter motor relieving you of £266. Set aside £725 if you need a full exhaust system, whilst a replacement catalyst will cost £346. A radiator retails for about £162 and a clutch assembly will be £129.
On the Road
If you're accustomed to the old image of Daewoos being warmed over previous generation Vauxhall Astras and Cavaliers, the driving manners of the Leganza will provide a pleasant surprise. The Korean preference is for very soft springs and damping, and the Leganza rolls in the corners but soaks up most surface imperfections with alacrity. It's obviously no sports saloon, but switch the air conditioning on, relax in those wide armchairs and it's the perfect antidote to road rage.
The design aspiration for the car was for a competitive mainstream product, and whilst the Leganza won't turn heads or make its other motorists raise envious eyebrows, it's an individual and rather eccentric choice. If the budget allows, try for the CDX-E version which has genuinely impressive levels of equipment.
The Daewoo Leganza is probably the most impressive car in the Daewoo range, but also the least popular. Its road manners are soft and reassuring, it's inexpensive, spacious and boasts class leading trim levels and makes a wise choice if low involvement, hassle-free motoring is your aim. If you can find one, look for cars that are still within warranty and haggle hard on those that aren't. The Leganza is an adventurous, but ultimately rewarding choice if value and equipment are your key priorities.
Daewoo Leganza (1997 - 2003) review by ANDY ENRIGHT