Essays : Breakdowns, misery and heartache? That’ll be the Daewoo

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

 MIKE HUMBLE recounts the tale of the Daewoo Nexia 1.5 GLi and how even after 16 years, he still twitches and shakes recounting the most miserable motoring experience to date.

Daewoo Nexia: So much more than an Astra in drag*
Daewoo Nexia: So much more than an Astra in drag*

The year was 1994. The month was October. And for anyone remotely interested in cars, it was the time of the International Motor show at the NEC in the former UK version of Motown – Birmingham. For a person who has visited every British show since 1982, this one by far remains engrained in my mind for many reasons. Firstly, my girlfriend at the time moaned all the way there – all the time there – and all the way back. Secondly, I left the interior light on which both melted the lens and flattened the battery. And finally, there was the Daewoo experience. And BOY! what an experience it turned out to be.

At the motor show, Daewoo had a huge stand that was causing much interest with visitors sporting a swanky stand with various cars that looked familiar. I had heard of Daewoo, but only for cheap microwave ovens and the occasional fork lift truck, cars was new to Daewoo. But by forging an engineering alliance with General Motors and using a UK based styling house, this Korean company had created a range of cars based on hand-me-down models from GM in the form of the old Mk2 Astra/Belmont and pre-1988 Cavalier.

The stand sported a huge banner reading ‘The Biggest Car Manufacturer You’ve Never Heard Of’, which I thought hardly made the best impression. But the cars themselves featured some novel ideas, such as free servicing, free three-year warranty, free AA breakdown and a collection/delivery facility for routine servicing. Now all this sounds average by today’s standards, but back then, this was simply unheard of. Suffice to say, this was mind-blowing. Where could it possibly go wrong? Daewoo ran no franchised dealers, and the price you see was the price you paid. So no tiresome haggling!

Bear in mind that every car also featured an airbag and ABS, with nearly all models featuring air conditioning too. Younger readers may struggle to grasp how unreal all this seemed at the time. Car sales were based via Daewoo ‘Motorshows’, which sprung up on various retail parks up and down the land, staffed by Daewoo employees who were non-commission salary-paid, and known simply as ‘advisors’. It seemed that that this smart thinking company were indeed, re-inventing the wheel – or at least, re-inventing the way you bought your wheels.

What grabbed my attention at the NEC was the way you could experience a Daewoo free of charge for one year. All you had to do was supply the petrol – tax, insurance, tyres etc were all part of the deal. Daewoo was offering 200 lucky people the chance to run a car, and all you had to do was fill out a short questionnaire and leave your details. All you were expected to do was fill out a running report every month, which noted all your experiences and ownership. You then posted back to them each month. I fancied a spot of free motoring, so I filled out a form and forgot all about it.

A few months passed by, and then I was contacted by a person from Daewoo UK asking when would I be free to be interviewed? I had reached the next stage at least. Somehow, I had almost forgotten about this – maybe because the perspex box all the completed forms were to be placed into back in Birmingham seemed almost full to burst. Just a few days later, a nice PR lady from Daewoo was dispatched to visit me and take a few mug shots, after a pleasant hour talking about cars and my lifestyle, she left saying I would be written to explaining the next stage if I was to be chosen.

True to her word, a letter from Rickmansworth arrived at my house telling me that I was one of the lucky 200 people to experience a Daewoo for a whole year. I was chuffed to bits. Here I was in my early 20s getting the chance to smoke around in a brand new car that still hardly anyone had heard of. What made it extra special was the fact I worked in a franchised dealer at this time. I just couldn’t wait to see people’s faces or reactions at work. A map and instructions of where to attend this exiting hand over ceremony were included in the letter and my good friend Richard offered me a ride there in his Golf GTi.

Arriving at a posh hotel and golfing complex just outside Rotherham, we were ushered into a conference hall where we were greeted, had our names and licences checked. A grand speech from the actor who featured in the huge TV marketing campaign told us of the plans ahead for Daewoo, and on a huge video wall, we were shown the many commercials which were due to be shown on TV. After we had been fed, watered and asked to sign a contract of terms and conditions, we were back outside in to the winter gloom to be shown our cars.

Just like Mike Humble's Nexia...
Just like Mike Humble’s Nexia…

I had been assigned M868 CLO, a dark blue metalic Daewoo Nexia 1.5 GLi, which in layman’s terms was a re-worked Vauxhall Belmont. Not the most exiting car I will confess, but hey, it was free and what could possibly go wrong with the idea of a free car? Well, funny I should type that, because a taste of things to come came in the form of a fault that appeared before I had even left the car park. All the cars were running ready for the off, but after jumping into my car and being shown the bells and whistles by a marketing executive, I noticed the interior was blisteringly hot and tried to turn the heater down – but to no effect.

Looking back, It seems obvious that some cars had been ‘doctored’ to test the aftersales side of the car, but an on-site mechanic fumbled around behind the centre console for a few moments and set the heat dial to a medium setting. I was told someone would call to arrange a correct repair ASAP and still being in a euphoric mood. I hit the M18 for the long haul back to Northamptonshire. The return journey back went without a hitch, and I was impressed with the car’s cruising ability, performance from it’s eight-valve 1.5-litre engine, the seemingly impressive fuel consumption and half decent build quality.

The car was a base model and basic it certainly was. Take away the standard power steering and ABS brakes and you were left with a car that had not even a quartz clock fitted. The ‘Tank branded’ radio cassette player showed the word ‘COD’ for a moment after switching on, this amused me somewhat. But subsequent events soon wiped the smile from my face – as I shall share with you the catalogue of misery and stunning ineptitude which started soon after taking delivery. It continued almost non stop for nine months. And I promise you this, every word and scenario is the Gospel truth – ‘stand on me’, as Arthur Daley would cry!

For me, where the wheels fell off, so to speak, revolved around Daewoo’s aftersales network. To keep costs low, they entrusted Halfords Service Centres to undertake routine servicing and general warranty work – a bold move but this sadly proved to be inadequate and from day one. Halfords seemed to struggle to cope with this ‘hard core’ contract. They were more geared up to fit radio CD players or undertake basic chores such as oil changes, rather than catering for a huge Korean car builder’s sole UK aftersales needs. They tried very hard, but missed by a country mile.

My car was called in to the Northampton Service Centre to deal with the heater panel, this was done with minimal fuss, while I waited looking at the garish seat covers and huge wall of car audio in the store, chortling as I heard 500 watts of white noise for the umpteenth time. This was caused by random button pushing of some spotty youth looking to spend £400 on audio for his £100 Vauxhall Nova. This ear-splitting racket can still be heard today by simply visiting your local Halfords Store. The car was done, and I set off back home, being impressed with the time taken and courteous manner of the staff – or so it seemed!

I remember noticing the heater dial had a slightly stiff feeling when being turned, but thought nothing about it, later on that evening I drove off from home to visit a friend across the other side of town when, en route, it suffered it’s first of many breakdowns. Sitting at a red traffic light at a very busy cross road just outside the town centre, I pushed in the cigar lighter when FLASH! – a bright spark came from behind the centre console, and the engine cut out. The ignition was dead, thankfully the road was slightly down hill, so when the lights changed, I free-wheeled to the other side of the junction and parked up.

The AA was called and upon arriving, the patrol chap set about poking a circuit tester here and there, and after spending a few moments poking around behind the centre console, he barked ‘who’s been pi**ing around in here?’. It transpired that while they had repaired the heater flaps, some metal component had rubbed through the wiring for the cigar lighter and after I had pushed it in. The whole thing had shorted out. The car’s immobiliser circuit was wired into the same path as the cigar lighter and it was this which had killed the car stone dead.

The wiring for the cigar lighter was disconnected and isolated, fuse replaced and I was back on the road once again, but no doubt in the fact I was Halfords bound once more. Again, they repaired the car, but this time a fitter left the world’s biggest oil stain on the carpet from his work-boots. A few eventless weeks passed by, and the car seemed to be proving to be a decent machine, once again it had a moody as it chewed up a cassette with no warning. The radio was replaced with another unit which made Pearl Jam sound like Pinky and Perky – this replacement unit also decided to dine out on a cassette soon after.

After checking the oil before driving over to Suffolk to see a friend star in a play, I noticed oil seepage from the cylinder head and the cream of death under the oil cap. The car was taken to… yes, you guessed correctly, Halfords who said the cream was due to the cold weather and to keep an eye on the minor oil leak. Not being entirely convinced with their diagnosis, I set off on the 80-mile journey. But on the return journey, near Huntingdon, the head gasket let loose at 1.30am. Needless to say, I went beserk and phoned for the good old AA.

After being towed to Northampton and arriving there at 3.30am, I subsequently failed my Saturday morning shift due to having no transport which also gained me a verbal warning. This was not the first time the car had caused friction at work because soon after, I was summoned into the dealer principle’s office for a chat. It transpired that they were none too pleased about having one of these new Daewoo cars in the car park as customers were asking in the showroom what it was. As a result, I was barred from parking it in on the dealers premises!

Another issue came in the form of some accident damage caused by some gale force winds which blew an iron drain pipe and masonry onto my and a few other cars. It badly damaged the A post, roof and shattered the windscreen as a result and the car was dispatched to a body shop in nearby Market Harborough. A loan car was dropped off in the form of a brand new Rover Metro 1.4LD, which after two weeks, was exchanged for a brand new Renault Clio. The car eventually came back after a month with a door rubber that refused to sit correctly causing a high pitched whistle at speed. Various bits of masking tape were inside the door jamb and it leaked water inside during heavy rain.

The actual repair was truly awful. The driver’s wiper blade swept off the screen, the front door didn’t align correctly and the radio would not work because the code had been lost. By now I was losing patience with the car, especially after yet another radio needed to be fitted. But this time, the unit was not secured properly and they had forgotten to connect the aerial too. I became sick and tired of Daewoo and Halfords’ constant apologies and countless blunders; the four times I had to be rescued by the AA and general inconvenience I suffered in the nine months of running the car. I spent more time driving other Daewoos, Rovers and Renaults.

After pulling up the aerial one morning before setting off, the whole mast popped out of the rear wing (for the third time) and my patience finally gave in. I telephoned the UK HQ number for Daewoo and demanded that they came and picked up the car and took it away.

It had left me stranded numerous times, nearly got me fired, ate countless decent albums, required four radios, blew its head gasket at 5000 miles, needed its battery replacing after leaking acid started eating the battery tray, immobilised itself twice and spent a grand total of almost two months off the road. By now I was pig sick and wanted nothing more to do with the car, its maker, or bloody Halfords.

Daewoo sent a top brass from their HQ to find out why I was so switched off with everything, I can’t remember how the conversation went, but I do recall the chap being very concerned about the fact that I might have gone to the media about this.

They offered to replace the car, but I explained that my concern was everything but the car, it was the mess of the flawed and incompetent aftersales which ruined the whole experience for me. With some reluctance, the collected the car and to this day I have still yet to come across such a chaotic and miserable motoring experience!

Since owning one of these Mike Humble has never been the same...
Since owning one of these Mike Humble has never been the same…

Mike Humble

Upon leaving school, Mike was destined to work on the Railway but cars were his first love. An apprenticeship in a large family Ford dealer was his first forray into the dark and seedy world of the motor trade.

Moving on to Rover and then PSV / HGV, he has circumnavigated most departments of dealerships including parts, service and latterly - the showroom. Mike has owned all sorts of rubbish from Lada to Leyland and also holds both Heavy Goods & Public Service Vehicle licences, he buys & sells buses and coaches during the week. Mike runs his own automotive web site and writes for a number of motoring or commercial vehicle themed publications

86 Comments

  1. Thankyou for a great read Mike! Many years ago a Daewoo so very nearly came into my life. Parents were looking to replace the Astra Mk2 and were quite taken by the Daewoo idea. In the end they didn’t bother, as they must’ve noticed the similarities between the Nexia and the old Mk2 which had several “foibles” most serious being its camshaft being made of butter. We almost had a 214 SEi – BRG, alloys, leather… Dad always bought British before the Astra – that’s why I love Maxi’s! But in the end a Carina E was bought instead – a much bigger (and arguably better) car for the same money. Thank god we didn’t get a Daewoo!

  2. It wasn’t a cast-off Vauxhall – Daewoo had been making the Mk 2 Astra since launch, as the Pontiac LeMans. The sales approach was partially based on Saturn’s in the US, and the little Korean was also sold under another made-up GM sub-brand, Asuna, in Canada.

    They were really horribly let down by Halfords – and perhaps, there’s a story to tell there given Vauxhall’s own fast-fit equivalents. I suspect the UK fate of early Daewoo was heavily shaped by Vauxhall UK top-brass and politics.

  3. “It wasn’t a cast-off Vauxhall – Daewoo had been making the Mk 2 Astra since launch”

    I never realised that! That explains the Vauxhall connection then.

    I have to say that I quite liked the styling of the Cavalier based Espero, it had a Citroen-esque quality about it, rather like a smaller XM saloon – in fact it looked more like a Citroen than the Xantia did.

  4. Bloody awful things. The second generaton we got here was even worse than the first, which at least had the benefit of using old Vauxhall parts. Rubbish, rubbish, rubbish.

  5. Daewoo cars were rebranded as Chevrolet ones not that long ago, I believe. A move probably not unconnected with the bad customer care experienced in the article above!

  6. The only Daewoo Espero I saw in the flesh was a girl at school’s dad, they had been sent here from S. Korea and her dad was to manage the local Daewoo VCR factory.

    Always wondered what a Nexia would be like, as the mk2 Astra seemed to be a decent enough motor. Ended up with a similar shaped ZX instead with the XUD diesel engine which was a fantastic car.

    The Nexia sounds like it wasn’t so much Astra, as dis-Astra!

  7. I once sold Daewoo’s but this was after the GM takeover and just before they converted to Chevrolet. I remember we had a few of the older models in stock and they were terrible things but people bought them because they were 1) cheap and 2) came with lots of kit. Overall they weren’t too bad but the Halfords service killed the brand in the UK from a customer service perspective.

    I liken the introduction of Daewoo to that of MG right now. A bit shakey to start with but now look at them. Daewoo still exist but as Chevrolet. The cars they produce today are still made in South Korea but have a little better backing from GM. They now have a full range of cars and seem to do OK. Also for years they refused to adopt diesel engines.

    I don’t miss selling Daewoo’s. It was hard work as the dealership was also a Vauxhall franchise. Too often people would realise that actually they were expensive, poor on emmissions and economy and residuals were appaling so they’d buy a Vauxhall instead.

    A strong Chevrolet in the UK and Europe is part of GM’s plan to push Vauxhall upmarket and try and turn a profit. It will probably benefit Chevrolet more than Vauxhall when people realise their modern motrs are pretty good.

  8. Daewoo exists as Chevrolet because they very nearly went bankrupt and GM got the remainder for a song, some of the plants closed. The only Daewoo I have had a decent exposure to (other than my eyes having to suffer seeing Nexia’s and Espero’s) is the matiz, and this little car was marvellous. I have had many for weeks at a time in various holiday destinations and thrashed as they inevitably will be, they have proven to be quite surprisingly well built, tough, fun and cheap as chips to drive.

  9. @ Mike Humble. Thanks for such a good read, this was my bed time reading last night! I always wondered how they managed to give you so much for so little (ABS etc) and now I know…
    Oddly enough I’ve always fancied one, and no I don’t know why either. Maybe it’s because they’re an interesting side road in the UK car scene? Or I’m just fascinated awful cars?
    And even after reading that I still want one as a daily driver project, do I need medical attention?

  10. The Matiz… the engine was developed in the UK by Tickford. For a long time Tickford worked closely with Daewoo to bring thier engines up to scratch. One of the few clients of Tickford to acknowlegde our input in their brochures.

  11. Ahh, the Daewoo experience…

    My first came when my company car was serviced by the local dealer with the contract, which also sold Daewoo. On the first occasion I had a Nexia loaner which I then had to take on the M62 across the penines – very very slow. On the second occasion it was a Nubira 2 litre, the early one with – er – “odd” headlights. Fast, but thirsty as hell – had that for a week and it was the only time my expenses didn’t cover the fuel.

    Then when I left I foolishly bought a Matiz which I got in 1999. I was moving to Scotland and getting married and was broke – the Matiz was cheap (0% finance) and came with free insurance and I was driving in town only – or that was the plan.

    It was a hateful thing – slow, toppled on any corner and had a strange smell inside. 60 was the realistic top end limit, anything faster and it would blow around. Overtaking was best avoided. As a city car it was also fairly rubbish – the short wheelbase and narrow track with the dead beam rear end meant it hopped from bump to bump like a meerkat on a cooker. It never actually failed and nothing fell off though, and I did TRY to kill it several times (damn you rev limiter…).

    The dealer experience was, er, cheap. All those ads about loan cars and free servicing ? Nope, even the coffee machine was broken the day I went.

    The final straw came when I asked one of those dent removal people to take out a 2p sized dimple in the bonnet – he laughed and then simply pushed it out with his thumb the metal was so thin. My Mrs was expecting by then and I didn’t want my kid in that so it went.

    I was past the halfway mark on the credit and so I could hand the car back and walk away which I did at the earliest opportunity despite the dire threats against my credit score which the ctredit company Daewoo used tried to bluff me with.

    I have been tempted to look at Chevrolet a few times but never taken the plunge and probably won’t unless my Toyota dealer annoys me too much.

  12. Daewoo as well as building mk2 Astras to be sold as Pontiac Lemanses, built Vauxhall Carltons as Daewoo Royales, Kadetts (from the Chevette era) as Maepsys, Honda Legends as Arcadias, Suzuki Altos as Ticos, and through the Ssangyong acquisitions, Mercedeses as Chairmans.

  13. Nexias and Lanoses are very cheap secondhand. Now I know why. I remember trying to get the ‘free car for a year’ deal but failing at the first hurdle. I more glad that I didn’t after reading your article Mike!

  14. The advertising killed any interest I might have had in this sad example of recycling.
    Every time they said “That’ll be the Day(oo)” I thought of the Buddy Holly song.
    “That’ll be the day-ay-ay – when I die”
    I always wanted to ask a Daewoo salesman why their cars would kill me, but I had a funny feeling they wouldn’t get it.
    Autocar told the truth about the Espero – 21mpg when thrashed – Daewoo PR’s response was deeply sad “head in the sand” stuff – like MGR with HGF.

  15. I remember seeing these hateful things at the motor show in Brum in left hooker format before launch, and actually laughed. I went to their recruitment event held at the local Hilton Hotel in Leeds, and it was a farce. The interview was even worse. It was one job I was glad I didn’t get. Doing the deal with the cretins that are Hellfrauds was really like aiming a shotgun at both feet, and the Nexia was really a joke of a car. Headlights falling out were actually a known fault on the Nexia too, as well as the head gasket failure, electrical faults, and generally crappy build.

  16. I remember Daewoo making a big effort on publicity, lots of TV ads & The Guardian magazine seemed to have a full page ad every Saturday for months.

    The timing was good as lots of buyers of Eastern European cars were looking for other cheap new cars to buy.

    I’ve noticed that some cars seem to have a default colour, the early Daewoos all seemed to be semi-metallic dark green.

    For many years there was a Daewoo dealers almost opposite where I work now. It is now a Honda showroom.

  17. Interesting report. If this were the story of a UK made product then Clarkson et al would have a field day. It seems that stories about unreliable non-UK cars get unreported but UK products get reported all the time.
    So form now on I will post about how unreliable Mercedes and Audi et al are….and they are. MB’s quality is terrible and Audi’s can be shocking. A friend’s A6 gearbox only lasted 80k miles. I am getting a VW as the next company car and their customer services is terrible.

  18. Merlin, I agree, Clarkson, AE et al. know what side their bread is buttered. Ever notice the adverts, who places them? What type of reviews do their cars get?
    The Daewoo advertising has been mentioned in this thread, which may explain why the build quality was brushed under the carpet.

    Agree with you though, the products of der fatherland are not as hyped up as the media make out. M class Mercedes are shockingly built, and Audis/VWs tend to have turbos and ESP modules go (the latter with a repair cost of £1500!)

  19. A good read from Mike as always and I don’t doubt its honesty and accuracy. On a happier note, I can report that my brother has owned a Chevvy Lacetti Estate car since 2005 which he uses as his business car (he also has a Jag XF for pleasure).

    The Lacetti has covered 161K miles in that time with almost trouble free service. Apart from routine servicing, filters, brake pads, tyres, bulbs etc it has only needed attention to the central locking and a handbrake cable replacing. Even the bodywork and alloys still look good on it.

    So They have obviously come on in leaps & bounds since the early days of Daewoo then!

  20. Agree, a great read. I can entirely relate. I had a brand new 1989 U.S.A. Ford Escort that was similarly unreliable from day one. Starter and fuel pump relays frequently went bad leaving me stranded; twice when out of town causing me to miss work. Fortunately I worked for Ford Motor Co. at the time and they weren’t going to fire me for driving a Ford. Still, it didn’t make me popular with the boss. It always seemed to have a headlight out and there were numerous examples of indifferent assembly such as the steering wheel Ford emblem having been installed upside down. I was glad to be rid of it.

  21. @ Merlin Miller. My Dad had a Passat until recently. He found the sales team to be A1 and straight as a die, but found the customer service “diabolical” so much so that he’ll never own a VW again. And Merc’s build quality-dire-and at one stage Vauxhalls were better put together and, as a bonus they used to rot like pears. They seem to have pulled their socks up of late though.

  22. I remember thinking that the unique sales package was the future in 1994. I still think the concept of selling via a sales team might be better than expensive dealers as long as the service backup can be good enough. MG have 50 dealers and can’t sell cars with the current offer. Maybe it is time for them to try something new?

  23. these cars were dog meat utter rubbish,we had to weld up bulkheads on these things when they were factory fresh with zero miles,this was a car for the skint motorist this was for people whom couldnt afford socks,and a weak bladder.
    @25 the m class was shockingly built because it was made in alabama-you also have the M class to thank for us having the range rover sport!

  24. I’ve had 2 lucky escapes, firstly in 2000 when I was working for Boots I had the ability to buy a Daewoo even cheaper as Boots owned Halfords. IIRC a Matiz would have been £5000, however they offered a pitiful £500 for Mums Cinquecento so the deal fell apart.

    Then I got offered a 1998 R Nubira 1.6 back in Dec 2007 for £500.It drove ok but the lack of spares availability scared me. I ended up with an S Reg 414S.

    My uncle however got a Lanos in 2000 and got six years good use from it, having looked at the shape of the Lanos I have often wondered who they were copying with that car?

  25. Round about the same time, after a ghastly experience with an Austin Montego( well you could excuse it as it was ten years old), I was offered a similar budget car to a Daewoo, a Proton MPi, much loved by taxi drivers and pensioners for their reliability. Although this wasn’t new, the extremely low purchase price for a top of the range 1.5 litre saloon and its bulletproof Mitsubishi engine won me over.
    Trendies sneered at this old looking car with its seventies like styling, but in two years of motoring the Proton never developed a single fault and seemed to go well, the triple valve engine ceertainly coped with long journeys, and was very comfortable. Fair enough it was a bit heavy on petrol around town due to its shape and elderly powerplant, but apart from this the Proton was well worth the money and was light years ahead of Daewoo.

  26. As for the German car argument, I;ve always found German prodicts in general to be highly unfathomable, a few seem to be very reliable, but most, for me at least, have been appalling, unexcusable design, horrific electrics and low quality materials… Anyway, I worked for Halfords at the time and they were totally unprepared for the job (as they are now, terrible company), untrained apprentices were let loose with warranty queries and no help or support was given by Halfords to fix the cars, belt and braces in the extreme!!!

  27. Amazing, Daewoos. Take very good old Vauxhalls, ruin the styling and make them unreliable and with a strange name. Then sell. When I’ve had such a good experience of reliablility and durability with a MkII Astra, it’s interesting to read how Daewoo cocked it up. Great story.

  28. We just recently owned a Nexia 1.5 glxi with more bells and whistles like 4 electric windows and central locking. Sold it in october, and we had it for 3 years, and in that time it needed a clutch, which being based on the astra can be changed without removing the gearbox. but it always leaked oil from the headgasket and the abs light would come on over 20mph, and it was a constant battle to keep the rust away as the paint would flake off from the sills and wheel arches.
    But in all honesty it drove well and never broke down and we drove all over the UK,and it had the best heater ever,but sadly the lack of specific daewoo parts like ABS sensors and the isuzu designed twin cam engine was not very mechanic friendly, well not around the swansea area anyway, So now i think it has been scrapped but it is oddly missed.

  29. @ Francis Brett.
    Funnily enough there’s a big black unimog in our area 🙂
    And the G-Class? Bullet proof and utterly bonkers in AMG flavour.
    M-Class? Poor relation to the two of them…

  30. @Ben

    Always thought the Lanos was very 200/25 bubble shape, used to get them confused occasionally.

    @Glenn

    Protons score highly in reliability surveys, higher than the usual German suspects. Always liked the old Saga for it’s basic honesty, nearly bought one. Usually found with an elderly owner and full service history. Mitsubishi mechanicals.

  31. I have a strange liking for any car which is considered rubbish…my current smoker is a 2001 Accent 1.3 auto whcih I’m using whilst between 75’s, it looks awful, but I like the ‘don’t give a ****’ attitude with old and unfashionable cars, although I concur, relaiabilty is important and safety.

  32. CAR-magazine once called it an “Astra for necrophiles”.
    Nuff’ said.
    Daewoo: Chevrolet by another name, another one of those pearls only GM can churn out by the zillion!

  33. @ Jason 1.8 TC

    Top marks for the added misery you suffer with it being a slaughter-matic, but don’t knock it.

    Even though in pleasure stakes, the Accent is right up there amongst being gang raped in a Glasgow tube station, it won’t let you down.

    Hyundai may be as desirable to have outside your house like a bed wetted mattress, but the engineering and quality are both damn good.

  34. Hilarious!

    On reading this, a scene from Mike Bassett England Manager popped into my head.

    Given a Daewoo Nexia hatch as his manager’s car, he drove to Newcastle to see a player, ran ok for a while and by the time he got there it was running on 2 1/2 cylinders and steam bellowing from under the bonnet!

    Funny reading about it happening in real life!!

  35. I made a Daewoo Nexia from a play worn Matchbox police vauxhall astra mk2 a few years back using some filer,files and a dremal tools and it turned out good.
    Images to follow soon my systems down this reply from works PC.

  36. Around the same time as the Daewoos were launched, you could buy for similar money better and generally very reliable and well equipped rivals from Kia, Proton and Hyundai.
    Also anything involving Halfords isn’t much fun, when enquiring about a headlight bulb for a 2005 Nissan Almera, some moron behind the counter said he couldn’t sell me one as the 2001 ones caused the housing to melt. When I told him the bulb was in their brochure, he said it still couldn’t be sold to me. Next stop the main dealer, who said Halfords were talking rubbish.

  37. Halfords, the place that doesn’t stock HT leads for a 1.8 Cavalier! Yet they have them for a 2.0 16v turbo…

    Motor factors are so much better, and cheaper. I know of someone who’s dashboard was “destroyed” by a Hellfrauds brach when attempting a CD player install.

    Bloke at work used to run a bangernomics Lanos, he totally refused to spend anything on it, it eventually died after a couple of years of neglect when the timing belt went.

  38. @ Bob comment 50

    That said, I went into my local Hellfrauds this morning for some oil and a filter for a Xantia TD.. cost was £18 after flashing the trade card.

    Sometimes they do ok, ahem! Sometimes!

  39. I drove daewoo for 7 years, 4 years nexia and 3 years nubira.

    Total faults:

    nexia (new alternator)
    nubira (new cambelt – this was not the cars fault, i entrusted the cam belt replacement to an independent garage who screwed up the tensioner settings). Never used an independent garage since.

    I’m not counting consumables such as tyres and exhausts.

    There has been a significant public ignorance relating to daewoo, mainly borne out by those that don’t drive them. In 2009 i seem to remember daewoo was listed as 8th most reliable car manufacturer, a significant achievement for a relatively small car company.

    From 2006 I had a chevrolet lacetti for nearly 3 years and that was faultless.

    Somebody mentioned that proton was light years ahead of daewoo in 1994, hmmm. Well i for one wouldn’t touch proton with a barge pole!! Back in 1994 i preferred daewoo to hyundai and kia as daewoo provided abs and air bags as standard and to me daewoo seemed more mainstream being allied to vauxhall – later they became part of chevrolet – one of the most mainstream car companies in the world. The daewoo car company forced all other car companies to start offering 3 year warranties and free servicing as standard.

    These days even though the cars have improved i wouldn’t want to be seen in anything proton, hyundai or kia based. Such manufacturers are devoid of image.

    GMDaewoo has been a successful purchase for GM as its one of its only divisions turning a profit in 2010.

    Well, I drive a new BMW 3 series for the last few years which has been fine, but in fact BMW dealers could learn something from daewoo/chevrolet dealers in relation to courtesy.

  40. Great mysteries of our time: take an old but faithful car, build it in a country known for decent quality and somehow end up with a pile-o-crap. Just like the Vauxhall Frontera really. Great in theory but something somewhere went horribly wrong. Daewoos smelt strange too. they did you know…

  41. Hmmm you would try and call daewoo a pile of crap when your name would indicate you drive a jaguar. (which we all know is a glorified ford) Jauguar have the unenviable position of appearing pretty close to the bottom of the heap in Which? reliability reports.

    Well you know what they say…bits of tin and bits of board stuck together make a ford

  42. @54i always thought ford stood for found on road,dead.To be fair,daewoo’s were horrible cars,couldnt care less about the long warranty-if reliable you would not need to utilise it-a ball ache in itself if there were issues,they were cheap and got people into cars but the goalposts were moving even back then and customers started to demand qualityas a given.Look where KIA are now since launching the pride years ago itself a re-heated mazda 121.

  43. well these days although i could grit my teeth and drive a chevrolet there is no way i would want to drive anything kia or hyundai badged. Regardless of whether the cars have improved or not. Kia/Hyundia – we are talking about cars that can be purchased with a £1 deposit, giving a desirability factor approximately equal to zero.

    Probably other BMW drivers would think along the same lines

  44. At least Daewoo managed a decent product launch, unlike SAIC’s MG Motors, and MGM could easily avoid the pitfalls of Daewoo because they have franchised dealers rather than bloody Halfords- I’d rather my car wasn’t serviced by spotty schoolboys doing a Saturday job.

    I don’t agree with the comments about Hyundai Accent quality- I ran one about 3 years ago and it was an awful car. The engine died literally as I drove onto the forecourt of the Hyundai (incidentally ex-Daewoo Centre) dealership to pick up some washer nozzles to replace those blocked up with washing-up liquid. The dealership spent an hour trying to find out what was wrong with it, but couldn’t, and didnt charge me for it! So I bought a very good Nissan Sunny from a bloke from the unit round the back (excellent bangernomics car) and the guys even emptied the full tank of petrol from the Accent for me for £15- how’s that for main dealer service?

    Recently had a lift home in the later Accent- far roomier, and actually a very comfortable car to ride in. Owner says it never goes wrong- which suggests that like Japanese cars of old they would be perfectly reliable until they hit a certain milage, then everything would fail almost at once.

  45. @56 I think Chevrolet/Daewoo are way behind Kia in terms of quality-the Captiva/Antara pre-facelift was quite low rent in tactile terms.It pains me to admit it but some of Kias products are far supior to equivelant Fords.

  46. As i said, regardless of whether the cars have improved or not, i don’t want to drive anything with a kia, hyundai, proton or skoda badge. Its like walking round town with a strong lidl bag – it may be fit for purpose but its just an embarrassment and a definite faux pas.

    At least chevrolet has the brand equity to move forwards, something that hyundai or kia can only ever dream of.

    Personally i couldn’t help but feel that i had failed in life if i had to drive a hyundai or kia. But that’s probably the BMW driver in me.

  47. Incidentally i think you will find the chevrolet volt is way ahead of kia or hyundia. If any car was to tempt me back to the main stream it would be something like the chevrolet volt.

  48. @60 well you certainly could not mistake you for anything other than a BMW driver.The Chevrolet brand has zero equity in the U.K -the BLS (SAAB)and CLS bombed thats why they are now re-named Deawoos they look korean and a generation behind unlike the U.S built Volt/Ampera which i dare say is the most viable of petrol/electric cars.A friend used to have nothing but BMW’s untill he was skulldragged out of his 3 series at a set of lights and now has a Mondeo and he says it does 99%what the 3 series did, i wont comment on the remaining 1%…………..

  49. @ J hope, Skoda is now a brand that is in very, very strong demand, and the car’s are pretty bloody good now, and the average 12 month waiting list says it all. It is no longer a budget brand either when you look at list prices. Chevrolet is the poundland badge here, because everyone knows it is Daewoo under another name

  50. ok, i’m at the hertz rental car stand, they offer me either a skoda octavia, chevrolet cruze, hyundia sonata or a kia ceed.

    I take the chevrolet cruze and get out of there quick!

  51. I think if i was a picky BMW driver i would take the skoda or ceed,perhaps not the defunct way back sonata and not the daewoo cruze.

  52. well that’s my answer as a driver of a new BMW 3 series.

    I can’t help but think that presented with the same options of a saloon car by skoda, chevrolet, hyundai or kia, most other BMW drivers would go for the chevrolet.

    You could swap out the chevrolet name to ford, nissan, mazda etc and in each occasion i suspect people would go for that swapped out option. A mainstream name rather than a budget name.

    Its the major advantage that Chevrolet/GM Korea has over hyundai and kia.

  53. I wasn’t talking to you Yorkiebusdriver so why not get back in your skoda – put on a large scarfe in case you see anyone you know – and mind your own business.

  54. It also shows you are a badge snob really, with a very narrow mind. It’s funny how Skoda ALWAYS beat BMW in customer surveys as well, especially when it comes to reliability and customer care

  55. Right Mr Hope, get off your arse and test drive one of the latest Skodas(or is that below you?). You WILL be very surprised, and your arrogance is getting you absolutely nowhere, and makes you look like a berk!

  56. I’ll keep with the 3 series, you can look like the typical berk in a skoda.

    Seriously how many BMW/Merc drivers are going to be tempted to skoda…approximately zero.

  57. well if i had a p reg 318i would be pleased to drive any new car really,most BMW drivers seem not to get flashed out of junctions,get crude hand gestures,thier car keyed down the sides and i know a pair of wankers whom drive a beemer apiece anyway,not that im trying to paint a stereotype of BMW drivers in general,but the skoda jokes are as dead as jim davidsons comedy career,the VRs Octavias are used by police everywhere and are just unpretentious quality VAG reasonable cars.Apart from M cars and i have a tiny cock X5/X6 the 3 series are mainstream as a insignia,good drivers cars yes but nothing soul stirring or out of the ordinary,gimme a golf instead please-anyone can drive one from a tramp to royalty and not be looked at or labelled a tool.Now over to you so you can reinforce that stereotype………………

  58. who said anything about a p reg 318i??

    I’ve got an e90 couple of years old, cruise control, climate control, hid, reverse sensors et al.

    Why do skoda drivers always have a bee in their bonnet about the marque. Surely they should be used to it by now, the only reason they bought them is how cheap they are. Actually its the reason why i discounted audi a4, as i knew i would get some skoda driver in the pub telling me that their car was the same as mine apart from £15k and the badge. No thanks.

    No, I’m not a troll I was just giving my view on chevrolet, which is where the original conversation was.

  59. @73 i think the second line of the above paragraph indeed reinforces……
    look,in terms of credibility between chevy and kia/hyundai the latter win hands down,conclusively and comprehensively,if they were still daewoo’s it would be fair enough,a budget car but larding on chevy badges and expecting people to fall for it is another matter,of course it s GM’s most profitable division,you can buy a wife for a tenner there too.These cars are nearly a generation behind kia in design and quality,they are ok cars to be honest but i will tell you now ford are more shit scared of Kia than they are of chevy-the ceed is far better a car than the focus to look at,to own and to run.GM have diluted what meagre image they had in the UK with these cars.As for skoda owners i know a few,one is a copper with a chipped VRS and all he says he couldnt care less what people think its paid for and he likes it,i also know someone with a New Holland TM190 and likes driving over BMW’s!some say BMW owners are paranoid-cant think why.

  60. @j hope,

    I think your comments more than amply demonstrate why BMW drivers are so often despised- tiny-minded badge-snobbery, arrogance, and aggressive contempt for those you evidently consider ‘beneath you’.

    And before you rudely reply that ‘you weren’t talking to me’ as you did to Yorkie in Post 67, this is a public forum, and this is a conversation to which any member can join in- it is not for the likes of you to say who may speak and who may not. If you want to bully someone, why not get onto the motorway and harass slower drivers by driving inches away from their rear bumpers and flashing your lights (as BMW drivers so often seem to do)?

    I have no problem with being seen with Lidl carrier bags- I shop there sometimes (quite selectively), and I am not in the least bit ashamed of it. Your comments betray a desperate insecurity about what some very silly people might think about you if you fail to obey codes of conduct that are applied to those like yourself by people with a similarly shallow outlook on life as you have. So, like a good dog, you buy all the ‘must haves’ that the magazines tell you you need to in order to conform. And probably wonder where all your money goes…

    People like you, who have this pretended sense of superiority because of their perceived superior’social class’, or how much money they have, is why I won’t move back to middle-class Cheltenham. It is so very full of vacuous people who endlessly go round measuring people up according to where they fit in their self-policed social heirachy. It is a horrible way to be.

  61. On a brighter note my stools looked like chicken korma earlier……..
    @75 i do enjoy your eloquence when vexed!

  62. @74 + 75

    You won’t catch me driving a kia, hyundai or skoda.

    But i do wish you well in enjoying your shopping at lidl.

    Why not lower the tone of the conversation somewhat further?? Just what would be expected of the budget marque advocates.

    I think it would be better to discuss your alimentary system elsewhere.

  63. @78 well,in some respects some of your comments was akin to the way body processes matter,the end result is shite.From the man whom owned a nexia and nubira which were dogmeat when new.I hope you enjoy your BMW you must have worked hard for it.I’m not an advocate of budget cars or any other car i see good and bad in them all having been a motor engineer for many years but never mind all that its unimportant,i welcome your views just like the next man,telling someone on here to mind his own business was disgraceful,i have had a directed robust comments at the same gentleman before maybe insulted his comments,but,like anything else its just a forum and its forgotten about.This place is for everyone including BMW owners,saying just what is expected of budget car advocates is like saying the same for BMW owners,comment 52 was a most welcome input from yourself but it descending after any challenge or reasonable enquiry,its a car site and you get stick,i myself will freely admit im a irritant and gobshite on this site and if i have been out of order (many times)i have wiped my mouth and said sorry pal(ask ianto)The fact is if you talk ever so loftily about what you wont be seen dead in you will get on peoples nerves,especially if some guy has to do a 70 hour week,run a family and home and all they can afford is something that aint to your liking.(i am not speaking for anyone its an example) people come on here for the sheer enjoyment,the conversation and just cars,i even like to come on to argue (ask dennis)but i just could not tell someone to mind thier own business.Not here.

  64. @78, j hope,

    I am glad you won’t be seen in a budget car- your attitude would no doubt cheapen otherwise reasonbly respectable brands that are often driven by very nice people who simply need to be careful with money.

    So stick with your BMW and wonder why nobody wants to let you out at junctions.

    ps Lidl’s car park is just as full of recent registration executive cars as it is with battered old Skodas and Escorts. The days when it soley catered for the least wealthy in society are long gone. You’ll find that there are many enlightened middle class people that shop at both Lidl’s and Waitrose and who are fussy about what they buy. Lidl and Aldi’s products often fare very well against much more expensive brands in broadsheet newspaper taste tests- and as far as I am concerned, good food is good food whether from Lidls or Harrod’s food hall.

  65. I had the joys of a Daewoo as hire car to Birmingham. It was the Espero which I still think is a nice looking update of the Cavalier (I think it had NOS vauxhall model badges). A CDXi 1.8 if I remember correctly.
    It was nice to drive, comfortable, and looked remarkably tidy. It only blotted its copybook once, when it started to overheat in traffic. A swift application of the ‘heater on full’ auxiliary cooling trick soon sorted that out – and taught the guy I was driving with a lesson in head gasket maintenance too (spending years in Cortina’s towing caravans can rub off on a girl). Porlock Hill on three wheels in a Cavalier SRi/Caravan combination is something that sticks in the mind too..
    The problem with such brands is that you either get a good one, thats indestructible, does 100,000 miles without so much as burning out a headlight bulb – or you get something thats the mechanical equivalent of Steven Hawking crossed with Christine…

  66. Listen francis brett, just because i was giving an initial opinion that countered your sweeping generalisation that all daewoo cars were dogmeat (Note Daewoo 8th in Which car survey, thus the public at large are at complete odds with your “mechanical” opinion)

    As soon as I have a go at some of the budget marques with their pretensions to move mainstream it causes a tirade of abuse from their respective cheap skate owners.

    So it seems that some of you can freely give out criticism to GMDaewoo and Chevrolet but are appalled to be on the receiving end, especially when it shows up your cars as being the second rate, fashion bankrupt, domestic appliances that they are.

  67. My father bought a Daewoo Cielo (as the Nexia was called in the Barbados market) after a salesperson talked him into it (his other choice was a Suzuki Baleno). He went with the Daewoo because it was bigger and cheaper than the Suzuki. The first thing I noticed was the build quality was not up to the standard of the 14-year-old Toyota he had previously owned; the fuel gauge visibly dropped when the air-conditioning was switched on (and we were using it full time when one of the power windows failed within a year). Apart from that, one day the wipers overlapped one another during a heavy downpour, and it left my sister stranded in the middle of the city one day. A co-worker also traded his for a Peugeot 106 after he turned on the air conditioning and it dumped water into his lap.

  68. @82 Listen? dont sign cheques with your mouth that your balls cant cash.never mind the pointless sample surveys they arnt exacty hundred of each marques owners responses are they?all varied numbers of respondants.i will freely criticise any car in a manner of my choosing,i wouldnt go and buy a skoda or kia myself never mind a shitty chevy,there isnt a car around that i wouldnt criticise for something but i am never wrong about BMW owners-most of them are PRICKS.

  69. My dad bought a Daewoo Cielo saloon , new in 1995 and he sold it a year ago , never went wrong once I don’t know what the fuss is about …it’s quality was great It look fantastic (better than the Vaxhaull is was based on) and overall reliability was good too ….I would recomment one to anybody , I loved that cielo ….. The only problem I think with the cars is the bad reputation they had and also I read about bad quality (leaking seals , head gaskets , things not bolted well etc) none of this nonsence happened were I live

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