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What Car? says

2 out of 5 stars

For Cheap to buy and run, plenty of space, lots of equipment

Against Not enjoyable to drive; cheap, plasticky interior

Verdict Steer clear. Cheap but not remotely cheerful

Go for… 2.0 diesel

Avoid… 1.6 petrol

Daewoo Nubira Saloon
  • 1. Check the interior carefully. It's common for pieces of trim to go missing or rattle
  • 2. There should be no mechanical problems. Both engines are pretty bomb-proof
  • 3. The cambelt needs replacing every 40,000 miles, so check the mileage carefully on any prospective buy. There could be a big bill just round the corner
  • 4. The car is basically sound, but there have been some reports of suspension problems
  • 5. Practicality isn't too bad. The boot will take a large weekly shop or a couple of suitcases
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Daewoo Nubira Saloon full review with expert trade views

The Nubira never did anything particularly well, and in the four years since its demise, newer and even better rivals have made it look and feel very dated. Its harsh suspension picks up on every bump, there’s plenty of wind and road noise, it doesn’t handle well and the steering lacks feel. The gearbox is sloppy and the two engines aren’t particularly strong or frugal. All in all, it is a wearing car to drive in any condition, on any road.

What the Nubira does provide, though, is a lot of space for the money. There’s good room in the back for two adults, and the boot can handle large loads. As an estate car, it’s as practical as most in its class, with a wide, low-loading entrance. It is a very basic cabin, though - the steering only adjusts for rake and the seats lack support, making long trips uncomfortable.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

A cheap painter and decorator's car. Reliable, cheap and devoid of image

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

The estate was introduced in September 1997, with two engines – the 104bhp 1.6-litre petrol and the 131bhp 2.0 diesel. The car received a face-lift in 1999. Some improvements were made to the steering and refinement, but the engines remained the same.

The diesel is the better bet. Its fuel economy of 32.8mpg is nowhere near as frugal as the equivalent Vauxhall Astra, which returns nearer 47mpg, but the 1.6 petrol really struggles with a full load. You can also have the optional automatic gearbox with the diesel, which is a far better performer than the awful five-speed manual.

There are two trims - the SE has air-con, anti-lock brakes, electric front windows and door mirrors, plus a three-point centre-rear seatbelt. Safety kit includes anti-lock brakes and twin front airbags. CDX trim adds rear electric windows and front foglights. The more kit the better, so we’d opt for this one.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Face-lifted '99 better prospect, 2.0 CDX spec finds favour

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Even though the estate commands a slightly higher premium than the saloon, you’re still only looking at a relatively small outlay for a second-hand one. It will be cheap to run, too, as long as you find a good example. If you’re buying a car with fewer than 40,000 miles on the clock, beware. It may need a new cambelt at 40,000 miles, which will be expensive.

When it was new, the Nubira represented excellent value for money because you get a three-year warranty, breakdown cover and three years’ free servicing. However, even though you don’t get this back-up now, the car is still reasonably cheap to own. It’s not the most economical, though – the 1.6-litre engine returns 36.2mpg and the 2.0 will give 32.8mpg - but servicing costs are reasonable and it’s cheap to insure. The 1.6 sits in group 7 and the diesel in group 11.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

A cheap painter and decorator's car. Reliable, cheap and devoid of image

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

Make sure you examine every inch of the cabin and boot, looking out for loose or missing pieces of trim. Even if they are all still intact, the Nubira’s plastics look and feel flimsy, and the boot will more than likely rattle after hard use. The post-1999 cars are better because Daewoo worked hard to improve the cabin quality, but the interiors are still low-rent, and we’d go for something else altogether.

If you have your heart set on a Nubira, there’s no need to worry about high-mileage cars. Both engines are pretty bombproof, and we haven’t heard of any major reliability problems with them. Make sure you get a car with a full service history to ward off expensive repairs. There have been some reports of suspension problems and expensive cambelt replacements at 40,000 miles, but, other than that, the Nubira has proved to be reliable.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Face-lifted '99 better prospect, 2.0 CDX spec finds favour

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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