Daewoo Kalos

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Keywords: Daewoo Kalos
Description: Despite an improving range, Daewoo's best models are still usually its smallest. After the cheeky Matiz city car came the Kalos, a five-door supermini with impressive interior space given its compact exterior dimensions.

Despite an improving range, Daewoo's best models are still usually its smallest. After the cheeky Matiz city car came the Kalos, a five-door supermini with impressive interior space given its compact exterior dimensions.

Despite an improving range, Daewoo's best models are still usually its smallest. After the cheeky Matiz city car came the Kalos, a five-door supermini with impressive interior space given its compact exterior dimensions.

Styled by Italian designer Giugiaro, it was well proportioned and undercut better-known rivals on price. Initially, there was only a 1.4-litre eight-valve engine; a 1.4 16v and 1.2 eight-valve followed, together with a wider choice of trims. No unit is exceptional, but all are capable of high mileages.

Levels of equipment are commendable. The SE model has front and side airbags, ABS, electric front windows and air-conditioning. But the boot is small, and the recent deletion of the 1.4-litre eight-valve version may affect that model's long-term residuals.

* Interior: dashboard plastics are flimsy in places. Watch out for broken door pockets, ill-fitting panels and scuffed trims, all of which make the cabin look scruffy.

* Side panels: the doors don't have protection strips, and are not proving to be very durable. Car park dings are common on both sides, too, so check all panels carefully.

* Engine: a three-year free servicing deal and warranty means there's no excuse for skimped maintenance. The deal is transferable, so make sure the paperwork is present.

* Body: nearly all used Kalos models are sold under the manufacturer-approved scheme, and will have had any necessary repairs to the bodywork completed before they are offered for sale.

* Wheels: be wary of ex-driving school cars with kerbed wheels. Such examples could become common as Daewoo capitalises on owner GM's fleet contacts.

The Kalos has firm seats, a good driving position, fine all-round visibility and sporty looking cowled instruments. Un-fortunately, the manual gearbox is poor.

Although the 1.2 and 1.4-litre eight-valve units give dismal performance and are noisy when revved, the 1.4 16v version is a far better proposition, thanks to its extra punch. The Daewoo is softly sprung, which results in an acceptable ride quality at the expense of handling sharpness. Motorway cruising is reasonable, however, and only the smaller engines' lack of power spoils things.

After getting off to a slow start, the Kalos is gaining some recognition in the new car market and sales are now increasing steadily. Used examples are still extremely thin on the ground, though, and are likely to remain so in the short term. Those that have arrived on the second-hand market have been well received and have held their value better than previous Daewoos. Now that General Motors owns the Korean brand, trade and retail acceptance of its cars has improved. Jeff Paterson, Senior Editor, Glass's Guide

I chose a Kalos because I like the way it looks. Overall, I've been very happy with it, but I would like a more exciting model as my next car. Owen Stevenson, Winchester, Hampshire

My Kalos hasn't let me down, and there aren't many of them on the road. A lot of people don't know what make the car is, so it gets plenty of attention. A better interior would be nice, though. Peter James, Shrewsbury, Shropshire

There's more than a hint of Hyun-dai Getz about the body, although the Daewoo has a more interesting front. The car's conventional shape breaks away from modern trends in the mini-MPV class, and the Kalos is a vast improvement on previous-generation Daewoos. It's a shame the same design standards were not applied to the interior, which feels low-rent. The Kalos also loses marks for ride quality, as when things get bumpy, passengers know about it.



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