Daewoo was once affiliated with General Motors. In the early ‘90s, the company went solo, which didn’t seem to be a wise move. During the decade that Daewoo became a separate automotive brand, it experienced crippling losses, causing it to be bought and taken in again by GM in 2002.
The Daewoo Nubira was developed and manufactured by Daewoo right at the time when it was on its own, developing an all-new automobile under the supervision of Ulrich Bez, former engineer of Porsche AG. This compact car was introduced into the public in 1997 and lasted until 2003. Considering its size and price, this car found its place right between the subcompact Lanos and the midsize Leganza.
1997 - 1999: First-generation Nubira
The first-generation Nubira was launched as an all-new small car riding on a fresh platform and aimed to attract the market dominated by the Corolla and Camry. For a South Korean marquee automobile, the Nubira seemed to be a giant leap in terms of quality and drivability. It was initially marketed as a four-dour sophisticated sedan and boxy wagon, deriving its power from a GM-sourced 1.6-liter twin-cam 16-valve “Family One” four-cylinder engine that was matched with a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual transmission.
The sedan was offered in SE and CDX trims while the wagon was available only in CDX trim. This generation of Nubira offered good interior and convenience features, including power windows, central locking, power steering, air-conditioning, fog lights, and CD player.
1999 - 2003: Second-generation Nubira
The first-generation Nubira received more than 90 improvements and upgrades and was released as the second-generation units in late 1999, though the sales of the old Nubira continued until mid 2000. This new Nubira was named J150 Daewoo Nubira for the US market and Daewoo Nubira II for the Korean market. This time, Daewoo dropped the 1.6-liter power plant to make way to the Australian-made 98kW 2.0 engine.
For this generation, the Nubira was still offered in sedan (CDZ trim only) and wagon. Both body styles came with driver’s airbag, power mirrors, split-folding rear seat, four-wheel disc brakes, as well as enhanced seating and ergonomics. There was also an optional Sports package that was offered with anti-lock brakes, alloy wheels, and passenger airbag. Among the noteworthy improvements of the new Nubira were redesigned tail and nose; reduced vibration, harshness, and noise; revised suspension; and improved steering for better handling and stability.
In early 2002, Daewoo launched the Nubira Limited Edition, which sported alloy wheels, keyless entry, leather upholstery, as well as mock woodgrain trim. What kept the sales of the Nubira steady were its price and good warranty coverage. In 2004, the Daewoo Nubira was replaced by the much-improved Daewoo Lacetti, an all-new sedan designed by Pininfarina.