What were they thinking: Daewoo Espero

General Motors-owned Korean manufacturer Daewoo turned its attention to Europe in the mid-Nineties. It’s early efforts, including the Espero, were lamentable at best.

At the time, Daewoo was little more than a repository of out-of-date GM models from elsewhere in the world. The Espero was based on the 1981-1988 Mk.2 Vauxhall Cavalier. So it was already the thick end of a decade past its sell-by date when it arrived in the UK in 1995 (production started in Korea in 1990).

The aged underpinnings were disguised behind a not-unattractive Bertone-styled body – the later Citroen Xantia, also styled by Bertone, bore a distinct resemblance. But the interior was dated and very plasticky.

Power came from 1.5-, 1.8- and 2.0-litre petrol engines, none of which had much power yet they all drank fuel heavily. And the chassis served up nothing but catastrophic understeer.

On the plus side, it was spacious, well-equipped and temptingly priced, attracting plenty of value-conscious buyers, around 16,000 of them in the UK. Round my neck of the woods in Yorkshire, it was quite popular with taxi drivers.

But whatever its limited merits were, the Daewoo Espero was, quite simply, one of the most mediocre cars of the Nineties. Fortunately, no-one who bought one had to suffer with it for very long, as it inherited the Mk.2 Cav’s propensity to rust at a rate almost visible to the naked eye. Less than 100 are left.

The Leganza that followed in 1997 picked up the Espero’s mantle of medicority and ran with it. Indeed, every Daewoo/Chevrolet (the badge changed in 2006) since has.

By Only Motors

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