Take a good look at your screen. What you're
seeing is a spacious small/medium sedan complete with twin airbags and a healthy
serving of fruit for just $19,490. Throw a 3-year/100,000km warranty in with the
deal and you can see why plenty of buyers will be attracted to the new GM-Daewoo Lacetti SX.
Yes, the new Lacetti offers a lot of car for
modest money - but is it good enough to qualify as a leader in this very
The first thing that hits you about the Lacetti is
the generous amount of interior space. The new Daewoo is larger than the
superseded Nubira and - in addition to the sheer size - the interior space
utilisation is impressive. There are absolutely no problems fitting four 6-foot
tall people in the car. Shoulder width is restricted with three
abreast on the rear bench, so think of this as a comfortable 4-seater.
The interior also has a quality overall feel. The
dashboard design is something you'd expect to see in a Euro and nothing strikes
us gawky - no fake woodgrain or anything like that. The HVAC controls are
refreshingly simple to operate and all other controls are thoughtfully located.
Our only gripe is the detachable face Sanyo is a little finicky to operate. The
left-side indicator stalk may also take some getting used to.
The Lacetti SX's features list is impressive for a
$20k sedan. Standard equipment includes power front and rear windows, power
mirrors, remote central locking, alarm/immobiliser, air-conditioning, map
lights, twin vanity mirrors and even a cooling duct into the glovebox (great for
keeping chocolates cool). The 6-speaker single CD/tuner offers good clarity and
can reach high listening levels before distorting - a very impressive system for
such a cheap car. Instrumentation comrpises basic tacho, speedo, fuel level and
coolant temp gauges, but it's all easy to read.
The Lacetti's driving position can be tailored
using the front and rear cushion height adjustment, reclining backrest,
adjustable lumbar support and tilt-adjustable steering column. The steering
wheel and gear knob don't feel particularly flash, but that shouldn't be any
real surprise. What is a surprise is the discomfort of the front seats.
Coupled with a ride that's quite taut at low speeds, the Lacetti's firm front
seats cause some aching after more than about half an hour at the wheel. Certainly, we
noticed front passengers beginning to squirm in the seat after relatively short
Testament to Daewoo's focus on space utilisation
is the bewildering number of storage compartments - no less than 20 can be found
throughout the cabin! Rest assured you'll never be short on knickknack
The boot is quite basic but offers impressive
volume (405 litres), good access and storage for a full-size spare wheel. The
split rear backrests can also be folded forward to expand the load area.
Interestingly, the centre rear belt doesn't have a permanent lower anchor point
- pull the belt from the retractor reel and there are two buckles that clip into
a left and right side buckles.
Aside from the overly firm seats, the Lacetti is
quite pleasant to drive. The 1.8-litre, DOHC, 16-valve, four gives the Lacetti
strong throttle response and a usable spread of torque. It's not the sweetest
revving engine in the class, but most drivers will have no need to approach the
6500 rpm redline. Peak torque (165Nm) arrives at a relatively high 4000 rpm, but
you'll find ample torque below that. Maximum power is listed at 90kW at 5800 rpm.
The Australian-built Family II engine features the
latest 32-bit Delphi engine management system (using a MAP sensor load input),
9.8:1 compression, a variable induction system and large volume mufflers and air
intake resonators and airbox in order to minimise noise. There are no
objectionable intake or exhaust noises but the engine does have some whirs and
buzzes at higher revs. Overall, though, the Lacetti cabin has quite low NVH.
Our test vehicle was equipped with the base
5-speed manual gearbox, which offers a nicely positive shift action together
with a light clutch pedal. A lockout collar is used to prevent inadvertent
engagement of reverse gear and there's a reverse gear synchro to eliminate any
Note that a 4-speed automatic transmission
featuring Adaptive Shift Control Logic is available as an option. This will set
you back an extra $2000.
In 5-speed manual form the Lacetti is never left
behind in normal traffic and - without being brutal - the car can sprint to 100
km/h in around 10.0 seconds. GM-Daewoo claims a top speed of 194 km/h.
Fuel consumption during our test averaged
8.2 litres of ULP per 100km; this included a lot of spirited driving and photo
session manoeuvring, so you can expect better than this in normal conditions. A
60-litre fuel tank gives the Lacetti a considerable touring range between
Poised on MacPherson struts at the front and a
dual link IRS, the Lacetti could never be placed in the "soft-as-a-pillow"
basket. The ride is strongly damped at low speeds but smooths out as
you drive faster. Suspension travel is ample. Perhaps thanks to the relatively
taut suspension, the Lacetti is an enjoyable handler. Turn-in is sharp and the
chassis is nicely balanced and throttle controllable. Grip from the 195/55 15
Kumho Powermax rubber is decent, though there is noticeable tyre noise over some
The Lacetti's power-assisted rack and pinion
steering is appropriately weighted but we were surprised by the sensitivity at
straight-ahead, especially at higher speed. Some drivers - depending what
they've stepped out of - may take a while to get accustomed to this. Torque
steer and steering kickback are minimal.
Stepping on the brake pedal actuates the Lacetti's
256mm ventilated front and 258mm solid rear discs. These provide stable braking,
though the lack of ABS (even as an option) is notable - only the $24,790 Limited
Edition gets ABS.
The Italian design house of Pininfarina is
responsible for the styling of the Lacetti. The high waistline is said to
provide a solid on-road appearance while the high boot-line contributes to a
0.338 Cd. "Jewel effect" headlights, extensive colour coding and 15-inch wheels
(with very Audi-like hubcaps) complete the look. To many eyes, the rear styling
looks awkward and the trademark Daewoo tri-grille is too fussy.
Forty percent of the Lacetti's body is made from
high or extra-high strength steel while the 3-piece B-pillar is assembled using
a tailor welded blanking method. Daewoo emphasis the structural rigidity of the
cabin, with added safety coming from the twin airbags, five
3-point retractable seatbelts (height-adjustable in the front), five height-adjustable head restraints (angle-adjustable in the front) and ISOfix fittings
for a child seat in the rear. Visibility is decent, though the boot is invisible
from the driver's seat and there's a considerable blind area behind the opposite
A-pillar and exterior mirror.
Built in South Korea, the Lacetti's quality
is to a high standard. An occasional clunk from the front-end and a plastic dag
on the handbrake lever button were the only complaints on our test car. Panel
fitment and paint quality were good and the doors shut reasonably well.
So how does the $19,490 Lacetti SX manual measure
up to the competition?
In short, very well - but be aware that there's
tremendous heat in this category. There are no less than ten comparable
vehicles from other manufacturers, ranging from $17,990 (for the Kia Spectra) to
in excess of $22,000 (for a Proton Waja or Ford Focus CL 4-door). Nissan
Pulsars, Holden Astras, Toyota Corollas and Mitsubishi Lancers are amongst some
of the other cars vying for sales in the class.
The Lacetti SX 5-speed has impressive space in its
favour, along with an impressive features list and decent on-road dynamics. On
the downside, the front seats are too firm (especially when combined with a
taut low speed ride), the engine has an annoying jerk when re-applying throttle
and sections of the body styling are questionable.
We think the Lacetti is one of the
category front-runners - and a lot of small/medium sedan buyers will recognise it that way too.
Why You Would...
space and storage
of features for the price
combination of performance and fuel economy
Why You Wouldn't...
seats become uncomfortable after about ½ hour
engine jerk when reapplying accelerator
aspects of styling awkward
The Lacetti SX 5-speed manual was provided for
this test by GM-Daewoo Australia. http://www.daewoo.com.au/ A GM-Daewoo
carry bag was given to the author.