What's New for 2001
Daewoo adds the new Sport Hatchback model to the Lanos lineup for 2001, but discontinues the SE Hatchback and SX Sedan. Pacific Blue Mica and Red Rock Mica are added to the palette for the sedan and hatchback, while Super Red and Granada Black Mica are available exclusively on the Sport. The new premium package available on the S models includes power windows, door locks and passenger rearview mirror; tilt steering wheel; AM/FM/cassette/CD stereo; digital clock; and variable intermittent wipers.
Struggling Korean automaker Daewoo continues to try to convince North American consumers that it's got what it takes to be competitive in the economy car marketplace. Trouble is, few people are buying it, despite the offer of free maintenance for the first year and 12,000 miles. So Daewoo is trying to spark interest in the entry-level Lanos by adding a Sport model, which amounts to little more than cosmetic upgrades.
Available as a three-door hatchback or a four-door sedan, the Lanos is about the size of a Hyundai Accent. That means small. Because the Lanos is such a tiny car, anyone over 6 feet tall should not bother trying to find a comfortable seating position. But the price matches the car's size, and for that nominal fee you get suspension tuning from Porsche and styling from ItalDesign. Despite these impressive credentials, creative types in our office refer to this as the "Lamos."
Lanos comes with a 1.6-liter DOHC 16-valve engine that makes 105 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 106 foot-pounds of torque at 3,400 rpm. A five-speed manual transmission is also standard, but buyers may choose an optional four-speed automatic. Acceleration, characterized as "spirited" by Daewoo spokespeople, is actually rather leisurely. Zero to 60 takes 11 seconds with the manual and 12.5 seconds with the automatic.
All models are equipped with a MacPherson strut front suspension, which the press kit boasts, "provides resistance to vibration and shock." Also standard for your protection are pre-tensioning seatbelts.
Stiff suspension tuning makes the Lanos fun in corners. Thank you, Porsche. Fit and finish are quite good, and the paint positively shimmers. But the dash is made of what appears to be the least expensive plastic on the planet, and the motor thrashes at higher revs. The lack of a tachometer means you can't tell if you're still within an acceptable operating range or are about to blow the engine.
The new premium package available on the sedan and hatchback includes power windows, power door locks, power passenger-side rearview mirror, tilt steering wheel, CD player, digital clock and variable intermittent wipers. The Sport model includes many of these goodies, plus red leather and brushed aluminum interior trim, alloy wheels, side skirting and a rear spoiler. What's missing is, you guessed it, more power.
Prices for this entry-level car range from just over $9,000 for the bare-bones hatchback to more than $13,000 for a loaded three-door Sport. But with increasingly stiff competition in the inexpensive-car arena from Kia, Hyundai and Toyota, Daewoo will have to come up with more than just new paint colors and a Sport model to prove itself a worthy opponent.