Daewoo Leganza 2-2

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Keywords: Daewoo Leganza 2-2
Description: Editor's note: You've read about some of our favorite cars over the years, but what about the worst cars we've ever driven? For Thanksgiving 2014, we decided to review some of the dregs

Editor's note: You've read about some of our favorite cars over the years, but what about the worst cars we've ever driven? For Thanksgiving 2014, we decided to review some of the dregs for your after-dinner entertainment.

South Korean industrial giant Daewoo makes everything from excavators to refrigerators, and in the late 1990s it entered the U.S. market with a small transportation appliance called the Daewoo Leganza. The Leganza was actually the second largest model offered by Daewoo in the states, with the lineup rounded out by Lanos hatch at the bottom of the range and the Nubira midsize sedan at the top.

Powered by a 2.2-liter inline-four, the front-wheel drive Leganza went on sale in 1997 amid little fanfare, if we discount the automotive press' incredulity at Daewoo's entry into the U.S. market in the first place. The Leganza was arguably the best looking of the trio, and arguably the best-named with an Italian-sounding name. For those of you still kept awake at night in an attempt to figure out what the name actually meant, it was a collision of two Italian words: elegante and forza..

The reason the Leganza looked okay from a styling perspective was because it was designed by none other than Giorgetto Giugiaro of Italdesign. though it was said to have been conceived many years before the Leganza started rolling off the assembly line -- it was actually a rehash of the Jaguar Kensington concept car from 1990. a progressive effort by Italdesign that unfortunately never saw light. Picked up by Daewoo on the cheap, it would be immortalized (for a few years, anyway) in a compact sedan that would flood dealer lots everywhere from Kishinev to Indianapolis.

The U.S. received the top spec Leganzas, though in terms of basic luxuries the car was undermined by the quality of materials. Photo by Daewoo

We had the Leganza as a rental car for a week in the year 2000, back when there were such things as Daewoo dealerships as well as places that would feel comfortable renting out Leganzas. It made an impression on us that hasn't faded to this day.

First of all, there's a reason why the Leganza took home the Torque Steer of the Year Award when it debuted in 1998 -- the torque steer in the Daewoo bordered on the obscene. Any time we gently tapped the accelerator the steering wheel cut a hard right, to the point that cars beside us thought we were threatening to pass them on the right shoulder. Even the automatic transmission could induce torque steer, causing the wheel to jab to the right every time it upshifted. And it upshifted a lot in a very noticeable manner, enough to make the car rock back and forth under hard acceleration.

U.S. market Leganzas received the 2.2-liter inline-four good for 133 hp, and this unit seems to have been tuned for the appearance of as much acceleration as possible…the key word here being "appearance." The inline-four would wheeze and roar, as if it was afraid that it would be judged too slow, with the revs just about reaching redline prior before the automatic transmission would clunk into the next gear. This may have looked amusing from the cars that were in traffic next to us -- it appeared the car was constantly trying to race someone and failing, all drama but few results.



Photogallery Daewoo Leganza 2-2:







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