Daewoo Kalos 1-3

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Keywords: Daewoo Kalos 1-3
Description: I'm writing this knowing that the Second Opinion at the foot of the page is likely to come at the Kalos from quite a different angle . but I insist that this is an excellently packaged

I'm writing this knowing that the Second Opinion at the foot of the page is likely to come at the Kalos from quite a different angle. but I insist that this is an excellently packaged five-door hatchback, roomier and quieter than many of its direct rivals, and very competitively priced.

The new GM Daewoo UK importing company "raked out the clinker" from the previous catalogue, leaving only the Matiz and the Tacuma from the older model range, and bringing in the Kalos as the first of the new generation, to be followed shortly by the 2003 Nubira.

Like the Matiz, the Kalos was designed with substantial input from Giorgietto Giugiaro's Italdesign studio, and the production car is a clear development of the concept shown at Paris in 2000, via the prototype on the Geneva stand two years later. In other words, it's a "crossover" affair in the sense that planning started during the previous company ownership, while UK sales got under way after the GM takeover.

This is a cheery kind of car, with plenty of window space, and a long wheelbase releasing an amount of passenger room which ought to embarrass many of the directly competitive vehicles of other makes. In the rear, there's generous headroom and legroom, to the extent that you wonder if Italdesign's sketch boards or computer simulation programmes run to a different scale from those of its rivals.

The fascia is individual and strongly featured, with an unusual variety of trim textures there and on the door panelling, which almost manages to disguise the fact that, because of the price range the Kalos inhabits, it was felt necessary to go for hard-surfaced plastics all the way through. It is a pity, though, that Giugiaro wasn't able to convince the Koreans to move away from the dull grey colouring they seem to regard as the acme of sophistication. What's wrong with these people?

While the Kalos definitely gives preference to people space over luggage space, it can carry a reasonable amount of stuff over the back, thanks to the low boot floor allowed by the space-saver spare wheel. The rear seat backs have a 60/40 split, and they provide better than usual small-of-the-back support. That split isn’t as handy as it might be in converting the rear cabin into an extension of the load area, because the rear seat base is a bench, and doesn't fold forward in the same 60/40 fashion as the seat backs.

At this price, and considering it's the entry-level model in the two-car Kalos range, you might expect the SE to be stripped out of everything but the bare essentials. In fact, it comes with the likes of ABS, EBD, variable-rate power steering, a tilt-adjustable steering wheel, an alarm system, front and side airbags and so on, all as standard.

There's a temptation, in busy car parks, not to use the alarm system because, when you press the key fob "lock" button, the screech which ensues sends pigeons fluttering away in alarm from nearby high-rise buildings.

Out on the road, the Kalos proves to have a comfortable, slightly elevated driving position offering good all-round visibility. The thing that impressed me right away was that it runs far more quietly and smoothly than many of its rivals. Daewoo put a lot of work into the engine mounting system and general noise suppression, and it has all paid off.

There are some roads in the CARkeys neck of the woods where even at 30mph the coarse tarmac can provoke annoying noise and vibration, not only from the tyres but also through the suspension. The Kalos coped with these surfaces far better than most test cars which come our way. Quiet running is one of its major plus points.

No, it's no sports hatch, as you're almost certainly about to read further on, but it's an easy car to drive, a smooth operator and very well packaged - in fact, an object lesson in how to accommodate four adults (five at a pinch) with absolutely no cramping, in a short-overhang, compact bodyshell.

Second opinion. Oh dear, what a build-up. I don't object to the Kalos to quite the extent suggested elsewhere on this page. I agree that it is very roomy. I second the motion that it is very quiet - astonishingly so for a budget car. I also think it looks rather neat. And I wouldn't dream of pretending it was meant to be in any way sporty. But I think that cars like this should be easy and comfortable to drive. The Kalos is neither. All the major controls feel stodgy, the roadholding occasionally left me uncertain as to where the car wanted to go next (at quite moderate speeds, before you ask), and the ride quality on even mildly undulating roads was horrible. It's years since I felt so ill so early into such a slow journey as I did the first time I drove the Kalos. Low purchase price used to be one of the very few reasons for buying old-style Daewoos; there's more to the Kalos than that, but the price tag is still being used to justify things which could be made so much better at very little expense. David Finlay .



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