The Daewoo Leganza is a four-door sedan classed as a mid-size executive, the successor to Daewoo Espero. The South Korean automaker Daewoo began producing it in 1997 from their facilities in South Korea and Egypt, later adding production facilities in Vietnam and Romania.
This front-engined, front-wheel-drive car’s name derives from combining two Italian words, 'elegante' and 'forza', which allude to its elegance and power. Its production ended in 2002 with the introduction of its successor, Daewoo Magnus.
Development and Prototypes
The internal development code for the Leganza is V100, the name given to its platform and prototypes. It was in the same manner and period that other vehicles in the new Daewoo lineup were developed, for instance, J100 Nubira and T100 Lanos. Daewoo aimed to replace all GM-licensed models with these new projects called the x100 cars.
They needed to collaborate and subcontract most of the car components, for instance, ZF transmissions from the German ZF Friedrichshafen AG engineering company, Holden engines under the supervision of Dr. Ulrich Bez (of Porsche and BMW), and other technical consultancies.
Italdesign’s world-renown Georgetto Giugiaro penned the Leganza’s styling, which according to the industry’s grapevine lifted inspiration from the designer’s concept on the 1990 Jaguar Kensington and blended with Daewoo’s styling elements. Work began in 1993, with the final exterior design completed in 1994. Road and safety-testing of the prototypes occupied the team until 1996, with the production line for the V100 commencing operations only in February of 1997.
Marketing and Sales
The Leganza went on sale in the UK in September 1997, alongside its x100 siblings, the Lanos and Nubira. They occupied three market segments – sub-compact (B) Lanos, compact (C) Nubira, and mid-size (D) Leganza.
Daewoo's marketing campaign included a 3-year warranty (or 60 miles, whichever came first), three years free service and parts/labour, and a 3-year AA coverage. Daewoo also gave out 100 free cars for customers to try for one year with free insurance to go with the cars.
Trim Levels & Engines
The UK-released Leganza arrived in trim levels of SX (with base equipment) and CDX. In Australia, only the SX was initially available, with both manual and automatic transmission offered. Below are the details, inclusions, and powertrain specs of the SX model:
- SX – 2.0-litre X20SED inline-four petrol engine paired with 5-speed manual gearbox (98 kW, 185 Nm, 7.75L/100km); equipment included air-conditioning, CD player, central locking, cloth trim, front fog lights, power mirrors, power steering, power windows, and radio cassette with six speakers
- SX – 2.0-litre X20SED inline-four petrol engine paired with 4-speed automatic transmission (98 kW, 185 Nm, 8.25L/100km); same equipment inclusions as the manual version
Australian buyers found issues with the Leganza’s hydraulically-operated auto transmission, which reportedly was rough to operate and required unnecessary downshifting to second gear. Poor ride quality and noisy cabin were also among the complaints, prompting Daewoo to make revisions in 1999. With an upgraded engine and a new electronically-controlled auto transmission, it fared better in the market. The 1999 packages offered the following trims detailed below:
- 2.2 – 2.2-litre X22SE inline-four petrol engine paired with 5-speed manual gearbox (100 kW, 191 Nm, 8.45L/100km); equipment included driver's airbag, air-conditioning, alarm system and remote anti-theft, 15-inch alloy wheels, CD with 6-CD stacker, RC central locking, cloth trim, leather steering wheel, leather upholstery, power driver’s seat, power mirror, power steering, power windows, and radio CD with six speakers
- 2.2 - 2.2-litre X22SE inline-four petrol engine paired with 4-speed automatic transmission (100 kW, 191 Nm, 8.85L/100km); same equipment inclusions as the manual version
The 1999 modifications improved performance but also increased fuel consumption. The Leganza also received enhancements, like the remote central locking, alloy wheels, remote anti-theft alarm system, leather steering wheel and upholstery, and a power driver’s seat.
Similar to the limited-edition version that Nubira received in 2002, the Leganza also had its limited edition but released slightly earlier. While this version was not available in Australia, the existing 2.2 model had about the same standard equipment as the limited edition and added engine immobilizer as part of the basic package.
Aerodynamics & Economy
The Leganza has a drag coefficient of 0.32. To put it in the right perspective, Leganza’s more aerodynamic predecessor – the Espero – has a Cd equal to 0.29. It must also be noted, that while both are classed as mid-size cars, the Leganza is slightly bigger than Espero. Aside from the shape, the size of a vehicle contributes to its aerodynamic characteristics or lack of it.
A comparative cost-per-mile study comparing the Leganza against its rivals showed that it is cheaper to operate than Peugeot 406 LX 2.0, Renault Laguna RXE 2.0, Ford Mondeo 2.0 Si, and VW Passat S 20v.
Discontinuation and Successor
While Nubira had a J150 facelift, the Leganza did not benefit from a V150 because there never was a V150. Instead, Daewoo lengthened the V100 platform by 20mm and called it V200 for Leganza’s successor – the Daewoo Magnus. In Korea, both the Magnus and Leganza sold alongside each other from 2000 to 2002.
In Australia, the Leganza continued to sell until 2004 and left without a direct successor.
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