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Road test: 2002 Daewoo Tacuma 2.0 CDX - January 2002
story by Shane O' Donoghue, pictures by Adam Jefferson


The modern day consumer is a fussy creature. He wants it all. In no other market is this more obvious than the car. We want performance and economy. Practicality and style must somehow go hand in hand. This leaves the manufacturers in somewhat of a quandary. Witness the appearance of crossover concepts, which are literally a blend of hitherto separate vehicle types. We now have sports cars that can go off road and estates that are capable on a track. So where does this leave the Daewoo Tacuma and its ilk - the mid-sized MPVs?

That's right, I said, "mid-sized". Until recently, I would have been entitled to say mini-MPV, but now that's a whole new category epitomised by the Honda Jazz. The Tacuma is in the same class as the Renault Scenic. Think of it more as a tall, well thought out hatchback rather than an MPV in the same vein as the cavernous Renault Espace.

The Daewoo Tacuma is a good car - let me say that to begin with. Not many cars on sale in 2002 could be labelled bad. Is it good enough though?

The test car was a striking green colour best described as a mix of green and gold. I liked it, though not everyone at The Car Enthusiast shared my view! Aesthetically, the Tacuma is certainly interesting. Thankfully, it stands out a little in the crowd of MPVs now on our roads, though there are some features reminiscent of its key rival - the Renault Scenic. Pininfarina are responsible for the exterior, and it shows in the slashes down the sides, and the protruding rear lights. At the front, it could not be mistaken for anything other, as the shiny Daewoo grille dominates. Roof rails and a tow-bar on the test car give the Tacuma a functional look too.

Inside, it all looks pleasant enough, as it should with input from Italdesign. Each passenger has plenty of room, and there is an airy feel to the car. There are ample storage cubbyholes, though it seems a bit of an oversight not to have any form of storage between the front seats. The interior is versatile too, with the seats being capable of being folded, turned or even removed. Unfortunately, the presentation is let down by the quality of some of the plastics used. The dashboard itself feels like it is made of the same plastic used to make those dreadful '80s cassette holders. However, it does all feel as if it is made to endure the trials of a family, which is probably more to the point. Saying that, Mr. and Mrs. family buyers would like some tactility in their lives too...

Not that the kids would care in the model we drove, as, hidden away is a PlayStation and DVD player, which play through a roof-mounted Sony television screen. This is strictly for the rear passengers, and even comes with cordless headphones, so Dad can still listen to his own music, or at least himself thinking. The installation is not very impressive, and it is a nuisance to change DVD or PlayStation game, but it sure would help keep the peace on those longer journeys, though it is not cheap.

The top-of-the range CDX version is generously equipped, with two airbags, anti-lock brakes with EBD (though drums at the rear surprisingly), air conditioning, electric everything, alloy wheels and a Sony radio/cassette with steering wheel mounted controls. A 6 CD autochanger is an option at 170. All this (not including the entertainment centre) costs a piffling 12,995 on the road in the UK! That is a bargain. There isn't really an equivalent Renault Scenic, though the Scenic 1.6 Expression Plus will set you back 1000 more and that has less equipment. Don't forget, the Daewoo also comes with free servicing for three years (or 60,000 miles), a three year/60,000 mile warranty and three years' free AA roadside recovery!

So, you have to wonder where the money is being saved, other than on interior materials. Time spent with the car on the road reveal a few shortcomings, though nothing disastrous. Being more used to a low car, it is amazing just how much more you can see from an elevated driving position offered by MPVs. The Tacuma has surprisingly little body roll, and in the dry, even has plenty of grip. On the motorway, the chassis proves to be a little too stiff. Initially I thought that at least the body control might be improved with a stiff set up, but alas, on rebound, the chassis is easy to catch out, making for not so comfortable progress. I was also shocked by how much steering correction was needed while driving in moderately strong crosswinds. The lifeless steering doesn't help in that way, though of course it is tuned for parking rather than driving. Which is a pity. If you did push the car on, in the dry, it is fine, but in the wet, terminal understeer stops play early on. Safe and predictable, as you would hope in this car.

The 2.0-litre engine feels willing enough at low revs, with plenty of torque. I wouldn't bother revving it to the red line, or even to its power peak of 5600 rpm. Annoyingly, at the 'accepted' UK motorway speed limit, the engine noise is a little louder than is desirable. At 10 mph slower, it is quiet though, so perhaps that should be the target. It would certainly help the fuel consumption, which rises noticeably at these speeds. Daewoo claim 31.4 mpg on the combined cycle, but this would quickly rise with a family and luggage on board. Which is another surprise, the Daewoo has a huge boot! I certainly didn't expect it looking at the car, but a baby's buggy/pram would not be a problem.

So to the conclusion of the test. I asked where the Tacuma sits in today's consumer needs. It carries people and luggage, but tries to give the driver something to enjoy too. I think it tries to do too much. A few small tweaks to the chassis would sort out the rebound problem, and I would also tune it more towards comfort - not that you will hear me say that too often! So, the 2002 Daewoo Tacuma is a capable family car, at a great price. Can you really have it all?

The 2002 Daewoo Tacuma. Photograph by Adam Jefferson. Click here for a larger image. The 2002 Daewoo Tacuma. Photograph by Adam Jefferson. Click here for a larger image. The 2002 Daewoo Tacuma. Photograph by Adam Jefferson. Click here for a larger image. The 2002 Daewoo Tacuma. Photograph by Adam Jefferson. Click here for a larger image. The 2002 Daewoo Tacuma. Photograph by Adam Jefferson. Click here for a larger image. The 2002 Daewoo Tacuma. Photograph by Adam Jefferson. Click here for a larger image.

Techical specifications

Performance
Max speed (mph): 112.
0-62 mph (seconds): 10.8.
Urban mpg: 23.5.
Extra urban mpg: 39.2.
Combined mpg: 31.4.
CO2 (g/100 km): 236.

Engine
Four cylinder, in-line, transverse mounted.
Cubic capacity: 1998cc.
Bore x stroke (mm): 86.0 x 86.0.
Valve gear: Four valves per cylinder. Double overhead camshafts.
Fuel system: Electronic sequential multi-point injection.
Max power (PS): 119 at 5600 rpm.
Max torque (lb.ft): 130 at 4000 rpm.

Transmission
Test car fitted with 5 speed manual, though a 4 speed automatic is also available. Front wheel drive.
Ratios for manual:
Final drive: 3.772
1st: 3.545
2nd: 1.158
3rd: 1.478
4th: 1.129
5th: 0.886

Chassis
Front: Independent. MacPherson struts with coil springs and telescopic dampers. Anti-roll bar.
Steering: Rack and pinion with power assistance.
Turning circle: 5.26m.
Brakes: Ventilated discs up front, drums at the rear.
Wheels: 6 x 15 inch alloy.
Tyres: 195/60 R15.

Dimensions
Length (mm): 4350.
Width (mm): 1755.
Height (mm): 1630 (1580 without roof rails).
Wheelbase (mm): 2600.
Front track (mm): 1476.
Rear track (mm): 1480.
Cargo volume (litres): 455 - 1155.
Kerb weight (kg): 1306 - 1392.
Gross weight (kg): 1862.
Max braked trailer weight (kg): 1500.
Max unbraked trailer weight (kg): 690.
Fuel tank capacity (litres): 60.


Picture gallery

The 2002 Daewoo Tacuma. Photograph by Adam Jefferson. Click here for a larger image. The 2002 Daewoo Tacuma. Photograph by Adam Jefferson. Click here for a larger image. The 2002 Daewoo Tacuma. Photograph by Adam Jefferson. Click here for a larger image. The 2002 Daewoo Tacuma. Photograph by Adam Jefferson. Click here for a larger image. The 2002 Daewoo Tacuma. Photograph by Adam Jefferson. Click here for a larger image. The 2002 Daewoo Tacuma. Photograph by Adam Jefferson. Click here for a larger image. The 2002 Daewoo Tacuma. Photograph by Adam Jefferson. Click here for a larger image. The 2002 Daewoo Tacuma. Photograph by Adam Jefferson. Click here for a larger image. The 2002 Daewoo Tacuma. Photograph by Adam Jefferson. Click here for a larger image. The 2002 Daewoo Tacuma. Photograph by Adam Jefferson. Click here for a larger image. The 2002 Daewoo Tacuma. Photograph by Adam Jefferson. Click here for a larger image. The 2002 Daewoo Tacuma. Photograph by Adam Jefferson. Click here for a larger image. The 2002 Daewoo Tacuma. Photograph by Adam Jefferson. Click here for a larger image. The 2002 Daewoo Tacuma. Photograph by Adam Jefferson. Click here for a larger image. The 2002 Daewoo Tacuma. Photograph by Adam Jefferson. Click here for a larger image. The 2002 Daewoo Tacuma. Photograph by Adam Jefferson. Click here for a larger image. The 2002 Daewoo Tacuma. Photograph by Adam Jefferson. Click here for a larger image. The 2002 Daewoo Tacuma. Photograph by Adam Jefferson. Click here for a larger image. The 2002 Daewoo Tacuma. Photograph by Adam Jefferson. Click here for a larger image.
 

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