The Daewoo Leganza is a mid-size sedan that was manufactured by the South Korean automaker from 1997 to 2002. It has the internal designation V100, which is also the name of its unique platform. The name Leganza is a combination of two Italian words, ‘elegante’ and ‘forza’ (elegance and power, respectively). The sedan was one of the Daewoo’s internally designed proprietary vehicles that were launched to replace previous models licensed from General Motors. Other cars launched with the Leganza included the Nubira and Lanos.
When it was launched, the Daewoo Leganza came with a 4-cylinder engine and a manual gearbox with cloth upholstery, hubcaps, and standard power accessories. The car was not met with positive reviews, with critics pointing to its rough hydraulically operated transmission that skipped gears, made for poor ride quality, and had a lack of noise insulation in the cabin. Two years later, revisions were made with the hydraulic automatic transmission being replaced by an electronic one and a quieter and more refined engine with better performance and fuel economy too. The new Daewoo Leganza also got 15-inch alloy wheels as standard, along with remote central locking and an anti-theft alarm. The suspension was made firmer too, but this reduced the smooth ride of the car significantly.
The next revision came in 2000, when leather upholstery was added to the list of features, along with an electric driver’s seat and wood grain trim. This Limited Edition version was only available for that year, though the same Limited Edition was relaunched in 2002. Unlike its sister models, the Nubira and Matiz, the Daewoo Leganza did not get any facelift in the middle of its production life. Instead, Daewoo launched a new model called the Magnus in 2000, which was essentially a longer-wheelbase version of the Leganza. The Magnus and Leganza were sold alongside each other in South Korea, but the former was only introduced when production of the Leganza stopped in 2002. As a result, the Magnus effectively succeeded the Leganza in most international markets.
The front-wheel drive Daewoo Leganza was only available as a sedan, and it had two engines during its production run. The first was a 2.0L, double overhead camshaft, 16-valve, 4-cylinder engine that delivered 98kW of power and 184Nm of torque. This engine was mostly available in Korea and other international markets, and it was available during the initial production years. In 1998, the 2.0L engine was replaced by a 2.2L engine that delivered 100kW of power and 191Nm of torque. This engine was mainly for North America and Australia. Both engines had a 5-speed manual transmission as standard and a 4-speed automatic as an option.
Like its siblings, the Daewoo Leganza was a midlevel performer in its category, offering solid performance. However, its fuel economy is slightly below average and some of the interior design elements look a bit odd. The overall interior quality is also not as good as that of some competitors; however, Daewoo priced it just right to make up for these slight inadequacies. Considering the reputation that Daewoo has in this country, the Leganza is a surprisingly well-built and worthy family sedan.
The standard kit on the Daewoo Leganza included a split-folding rear bench, tilt steering wheel, fog lamps, rear defogger, theft-deterrent alarm, power doors and windows, and remote keyless entry. The car has a tire size of 205/60R15, and models came with a full-size spare. The top-end SX models came with additional features like cruise control, variable-assist power steering, cassette and CD player, 6-way power driver’s seat, and leather upholstery. Optional features for the top-end models included a power sunroof, traction control, alloy wheels, and automatic climate control.
It is basically a standard family sedan with acceptable levels of comfort and performance. The convenience and safety features available with the Daewoo Leganza were quite extensive, almost close to those of some Japanese models. Combine this with the generally smooth and comfortable ride, and the Daewoo Leganza makes for a great family sedan.
The stiffest competition for the Daewoo Leganza came from other 4-cylinder cars like the Holden Vectra, Mazda 626, Toyota Camry, and Subaru Liberty. Compared to these mid-size sedans, the Daewoo Leganza offered equal performance numbers and features but was less favoured because the Korean carmaker was largely unknown and untrusted at the time. In comparison, Honda, Toyota, and other Japanese carmakers already had established positive reputations. As a result, the Daewoo Leganza was not only less popular but also had a lower resale value. This, however, makes the Leganza a very attractive option among used car buyers who want the same quality of Japanese family sedans without the high costs.