Daewoo Nubira Saloon 1997-1999

Daewoo Nubira Saloon 1997-1999

Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016


  • The petrol Nubira is cheap and economical
  • Offers a practical value, especially as an estate car
  • Not too expensive to run and maintain


  • The diesel engine is ridiculous
  • It is uncomfortable and dull
  • Poor handling
  • Cheap materials used throughout


The Italian-designed Daewoo Nubira made debut in 1997 as a timely replacement for the Nexia. It's name means cloud-going in Esperanto, however, considering the engines it's equipped with, it doesn't make an association with anything light and airy. The 'cloud' could be a reference to the cars shape, because of its bulging headlights and other features.

Exterior and Interior

The Nubira is not a bad looking car. It's been created and developed by a team of Italian designers. The car was created by the now-defunct I.DE.A Institute. Although they always positioned themselves as an innovative design company, questionable creations like Tata Nano make one doubt their design capabilities. Nevertheless, with the Nubira they achieved a good result. It was the first Daewoo that looked like somebody had actually put some effort and creativity into it. The exterior is assembled from low-cost materials, but that's not to say that it is bad. There is plenty of space at the front and back. It seats four adults, and the boot is capable of handling large loads. It is even more practical as an estate car, featuring a wide, low-loading entrance. Although the first impression of the interior space is good, the driving position is not that comfortable. There are limited adjustments that can be made to the seats and steering column making long trips rather tiresome. The car has a very basic cabin, and the steering only adjusts for the rake while the seats do not offer support, this makes long trips extremely uncomfortable. There are only two trims available- SE and CDX. The SE trim is decent and after the year 2000 it included safety features like air bags. The CDX is not a major jump, although it does offer slightly better interiors and some extra kit.

Performance and Economy

If you're looking for a cheap used car, the Nubira is within affordable limits, however, you can probably find a better car within the same price bracket. The Nubira doesn't require expensive maintenance and it is a cheap car to keep. Its petrol engine delivers decent fuel economy, around 36mpg. For an engine with over 100bhp the fuel economy is fairly decent and there's nothing really bad to say about its petrol unit. The surprise comes when we talk about the diesel option. Although on a French or German car you couldn't possibly find a 2.0-litre diesel engines doing worse than 40mpg (many will be closer to 45-50mpg), the Nubira's diesel can achieve 33mpg at best. It's a very outdated, uneconomical and noisy. We would recommend you avoid this engine if possible. The diesel is available with both a manual and automatic gearbox. In the first instance, it annoys you with imprecise gear selection. In the latter option it reduces fuel economy even further to an almost ridiculous amount.

Like to Drive

You cannot really compare the Nubira with similar sized European cars. It is a boring car to drive and the awkward driver's position will hardly be satisfying. Longer journeys in the Nubira are a test of patience and stamina. Shorter ones, however, are not much better. The car doesn't offer great handling at low speeds and you shouldn't expect a fun time behind the wheel. Often it is for a driver what it was for the Daewoo factory, a stop gap until something better comes up. Because of this, the majority of Nubiras have had 5 or more owners so if you are buying one second hand you should always check that it has a full service history?

Faults and Repairs

The car suffers from poor assembly, especially on the pre-2000 models. You should keep your eyes open when choosing a used Daewoo Nubira. Parts of the interior can actually come off. The engines are simple and well-built, they offer above-average reliability and although an old Nubira engine sounds rough, it is bound to serve well if it's been maintained at regular intervals.