Car Test   R0339
June 2003
  Daewoo Kalos
Printer Friendly Page Featured model: 1.4 8v SE 5door
When Daewoo got into financial trouble, it looked as it its pioneering attempts at simplifying car buying and ownership had come up against the buffers. But no, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, this brand new supermini has made its debut (albeit a low-key one) thanks to a GM takeover.
   Bigger than the Matiz city car (that’s now available with a four-cylinder, one-litre engine, incidentally), Kalos takes on Ford’s Fiesta, domestic rival Hyundai’s Getz and, of course, the Vauxhall Corsa.
   If ever a car needed to be driven, rather than just looked at, this is the supreme example. Its reasonably proportioned, tallish build outside comes with scant protection against parking nudges. Opening a door reveals a lot of hard, grey plastic relieved by reasonable cloth seats, but the modest load deck betrays painted metal on seatbacks and a cheap and cheerful load cover. Folding the back seat is hard work – only the backrests are split and the one-piece cushion releases are stiff; the seatbelts get in the way, too. The back seat is curiously laid-back, with no adjustment and little lateral location is provided, although the cushion is generous.
   Get in the driving seat and things buck up considerably. The car is easy to enter; even the base S version (without seat height adjustment) suits shorter types and the wheel (which is rake-adjustable) and pedals fall naturally to hand – and foot. There’s a good view forwards (not so good rearwards) with sensible displays and stalks.
   The Kalos has been setup to provide a comfortable, relaxed drive, rather than going for sharp, agile responses. It exudes a “don’t rush me” attitude and rewards with excellent low-speed tractability, effortless main road cruising and commendably smooth, absorbent ride comfort; whether it’s over undulating surfaces or cat’s-eyes, this small car distinguishes itself on our poorly topped UK roads.
   We appreciated the precise gearchange, the light, progressive clutch and accelerator response free of the hesitance that afflicted previous Daewoos. If you don’t rush it, this is a co-operative, pleasing car to drive. However the brakes disappointed when used in anger – the last Matiz we tested stopped 4.5m shorter and betrayed no fade.
   There’s better under-bonnet access on the Kalos than on Matiz (or most rivals); when the three years/60,000 miles of free servicing is up, it looks like an easy DIY prospect for routine jobs. Even AA cover is free for three years, too, but serious rust indemnity is only for six years; also remember that “wear-and-tear” repairs/replacements aren’t covered by the service package. Nevertheless, it must be worth over £500 of anyone’s money. The Kalos’ low list price isn’t likely to be discounted, however, so the £2000 extra you see in rival brochures may be significantly eroded if you shop around.
  considering size, price and rivals
Overtaking Ability
Fuel Economy
Security, theft of
theft from
  • sensible door mirrors - electric adjuster on nearside
  • independent key-locking for tailgate, if required
  • higher-set seats an asset for the less spry
  • very accessible under-bonnet for DIY checks, but...
  • you won't need to do much for first three years!
  • low-set tell-tales in minor switches, easily missed
  • no scuff protection strips (doors or bumpers)
  • hard, unyielding door armrests - like plastic trim
  • passenger's door keyhole won't trigger central locking
  • engine interference when playing tapes
  • facia vents output all or nothing
If you’re considering Kalos, it won’t be to enhance your kudos. Instead, you’ll get a fully equipped small hatchback that will provide surprising levels of comfort and dynamic refinement, together with a reassuring ownership experience – for three years, at least. Appearances can be deceiving – this small car goes better than you might expect.

engine 1399cc, 4-cylinder, petrol; 83bhp at 5600rpm, 90lb ft at 3000rpm; belt-driven single overhead camshaft, 8 valves   transmission 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive; 22.2mph/1000rpm in 5th, 17.6 in 4th
suspension front; independent damper/struts with integral coil springs
rear: torsion beam (dead) axle, coil springs
  steering hydraulic power assistance; 3.1 turns lock-to-lock; 10.3m diameter turning circle between kerbs (15.3m for one turn of the wheel)
brakes ventilated discs front, drums rear, with standard anti-lock control   wheels/tyres 5in steel with 155/80R13 tyres (5.5in alloy with 185/60R14 option on test car); temporary-use steel spare

size and type 5-door supermini hatchback - budget priced   trim levels S, SE, SX
engines petrol: 4 cylinder/1.2 litre/72bhp, 4/1.4/83, 4/1.4(16v)/94
diesel: none
  drive 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive; 4-speed stepped automatic (with torque converter) optional with 1.4 16v only

HOW THE KALOS 1.4 8V COMPARES engine (cyl/cc/bhp) revs at 70mph (rpm) 30-70 through gears (sec) 30-70mph in 4th/5th gears (sec) fuel (mpg/CO2) brakes from 50mph (kg/m) maximum legroom - front (cm) typical leg/kneeroom - rear (cm) steering turns/circle (m) overall length (cm)
Daewoo Kalos 1.4 8v 4/1399/83 3160 14.2 24.8/36.3 38.5/175 18/30 105 99/69 3.1/10.3 388
Hyundai Getz 1.3 4/1341/81 3180 13.8 23.5/34.1 39/150 10/27 104 94/72 3.0/10.3 381
Nissan Micra 1.2 4/1240/80 3470 12.9 20.3/29.2 43.5/143 11/28 104 102/73# 3.2/9.5 372
Ford Fiesta 1.4 4/1388/80 3290 14.1 21.3/32.7 38.5/158 18/26.5 108 98/71 2.8/10.2 392
Skoda Fabia 1.4 8v 4/1397/68 3310 15.3 21.5/31.8 40/173 27/24.5 109 100/72 2.8/10.25 396
Vauxhall Corsa 1.2 4/1199/75 3700 14.4 20.7/30.7 45/149 14/24 106 95/70 2.9/10.4 382
  # back seat fully rearwards

Don't let the bland, hard plastic appearance deter you - the front seats offer excellent support and the driving position/major controls impress. No Daewoo accelerator jerkiness here and only the minor switchgear causes irritation.
With comfort on its mind, Kalos doesn't really relish being rushed, but its steering and cornering response is assured - except in crosswinds. Rear vision marred by non-recess headrests, poor rearwiper arrangement and clipped off interior mirror view.
Big surprises in store for newcomers - Kalos is more comfortable up front than Corsa, with a more absorbent ride, a long-legged, relaxed stride at any legal speed and proficient heating/aircon. Not so good in the back, however.

High gearing dents in-gear acceleration, but as good as several big-name 1.4 rivals when revved, "Don't rush me" but precise gearchange and smooth, very light clutch make cog-swapping no chore.
  acceleration in seconds through gears 4th gear 5th gear
  20-40mph 4.3 11.6 16.6
  30-50mph 5.4 11.1 16.8
  40-60mph 7.0 11.4 18.2
  50-70mph 8.8 13.7 19.5
  30-70mph 14.2 24.8 36.3
  max speed in each gear (* using 6000rpm for best acceleration)
     gear      1st*      2nd*      3rd*      4th      5th
     speed (mph)      26.5      48      74      101 (5725rpm)      96 (4325rpm)

A mediocre result, despite our overall figure being better than the official one (16v version's mpg is allegedly better than this 8valver's). Tank fills well and has interior flap release.
  type of use (air conditioning off) AA test (mpg) 
    worst (hard/urban) 25
    best (gentle/rural) 45
    overall mpg 38.5
    realistic tank capacity/range 39/330
    official mpg (urban/extra urban/combined) 27.7/47.1/37.7
    CO2 emissions 175g/km
    car tax band D

Four airbags, Isofix child seat mounts and five proper belts for injury prevention; standard ABS even on cheapest version, to avoid trouble. Unfortunately, brakes/tyres deliver mediocre emergency stop and fade resistance (though pleasant in everyday check braking).
  from 50mph (with ABS standard)
This model has not yet been
tested by EURO NCAP
pedal load     stopping distance
unhurried 10kg     32m
sudden 18kg     30m best stop
+ 4kg ie 22kg     31m
fade resistance/consistency    
Euro NCAP = European New Car Assessment Programme: independent crash safety tests evaluating protection for occupants and pedestrians in an offset frontal collision, side impacts and pedestrian strike conditions
click here for more NCAP details/test results etc.

Adequate kneeroom, but rear backrest too 'laid-back' - should have adjustable rake. Folding arrangements cumbersome, but resultant load floor is flat. One-piece cushion limits load versatility and load deck limited behind occupied seats. No rear heater outlets.
  in centimetres (5-door hatchback)
  length 388
  width - including mirrors 199
    - mirrors folded 173
  height 150
  load sill height (inside/outside) 19/73
  turns lock-to-lock 3.1
  turning circle (metres) 10.3
  easy to park/garage?
  front - legroom 86-105
    - headroom 99§
  rear - typical legroom 99
    - typical kneeroom 69
    - headroom 92§
    - hiproom 129
  load area(all seats in use)
  load space
(litres/cu ft)
  load length 48-100~
  load length to facia 204
  load width 97-114
  load height (to shelf/to top of aperture) 48/83
§ no sunroof  ~ rear seat folded

Perimeter alarm on all versions, as well as remote central locking, yet NCSR rating not too reassuring. Rear tailgate can be locked/released independently, which is certainly convenient.
central locking  
remote control  
remote window closing  
alarm (perimeter)   
self-locking (static)   
two-stage unlocking   
attack-resistant glass   
AA load area security rating
=standard    =option    =not available
NCSR - "theft of"
NCSR - "theft from"
NCSR = New Car Security Ratings: a 1 to 5 star system which rates anti-theft protection, both of the car itself and the theft of valuables from within the car
Visit for more details
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