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Old 17th October 2004, 02:10   #1
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Car: Daewoo Matiz
Model: SD
First bought: May 2000.
Mileage done:42000 kms
Price then: Rs 3,50,000
Price now: Don't ask
Services done: 8. Each at 5000 kilometre intervals.
Parts changed: AC cooling coil at 33000kms. Alternator at 27,000kms. Brake pads at 23,000 kms, Lower-A arms-front suspension at 40,000 kms, tyres at 35,000 kms. Consumables as and when required.

Updated


They say old habits die hard. I guess the love for Daewoo Matiz that the owners have will die hard too.

My first experience with the car, and the fact that i was blown away by it, was September 1998. Cover of the first ever Overdrive and bright sparkling golden yellow Matiz gleams right across. Instantly, i was hooked. A car that looked so good, on Indian roads? Hah, i had to be dreaming right. But nope, Ashraf Sheik doesn't lie. And so didn't Daewoo. Atleast one of the few truths they said in India. Flipping through the article i saw what most people failed to see... the ideal car for city use. A comfy, no-nonsense 800cc 3 potter that could give some 4 cylinder 1000 cc cars, testing times.

Move to 1999 and the Daewoo Matiz was yet to sell! With only one variant they made what was to be, the essential death knell. Surely, they corrected the situation by bringing in 3 more variants in May-June 99, but it was still gonna bring the company down. A marketing mistake, yes. Strategic, totally. Long-term one... no doubt.

September 1999, Overdrive's first anniversary. The new Ikon is out. But also out is the results of the mini-battle. The Daewoo Matiz comes out trumps. So when in March 2000 I was to book my next car, there was no doubt in the minds of my father and me, what we wanted next. My father, like me, is a sucker for Italian designs. But there was more to it. With a relatively powerful 800 cc, 52 bhp engine, a fuel-efficient one, good space on the inside, compact on the out, great ride and handling compromise package, you just couldn't go wrong. As a product, the Matiz was far ahead of its times. I got offered the first of May 2000 batch Euro-IIIs as an option by the dealer, Shakti Motors. What i was to lose was LHS mirror and stereo. Great, not a problem at all. Especially when i was told engine would have 10% better power delivery and 15% better average. Fantastic.

May 2000 and i took delivery of a peacock green Daewoo Matiz SD. The car had character instantly as i walked up to it. It has a beautiful stance, the shape and lines flow very well. Some might prefer the Santro in terms of looks, but a connosieur of the finest things in life would rather pick the Matiz.

The space in the car is amazing. I have sat in Esteems, but trust me, this car feels more comfy than they do. Ingress and Egress is excellent. The driving position is spot on, neither too high nor too low, the look and shape of the car contributing to it. The shape of the seats supports long distance driving, the lumbar support being just right for an average height person. The dashboard feels like its been built from solid piece of granite. The ergonomics of the dashboard are good with lovely blue dials and huge rotatory stalks to control the AC. The rear seat again is pretty comfy for a small car, easily beating the Santro in overall comfort which loses the plot due to its rather unnecessarily high seat. The boot space though is a tad short and could be better!

On the move, the Matiz has to be driven with some TLC. Start her up, wait for the check light to go off and you are ready to go. The engine isn't refined, its a bit noisy. But for someone who appreciates a good engine note, he won't be disappointed. IMHO, i love its sound. The gears are controlled by cables rather than the smooth syncromesh that one gets to find in Zens. Its a bit notchy, especially moving from 2nd to 3rd. Till 40-45 kmph, the car isn't exactly responsive. Low-down, especially in till the 1500-2000 rpm range, the engine is a laggard that just doesn't want to be revved at all. But thats where all the negatives of the Matiz end. Post 45 kmph and the car starts to spring to life. It accelerates very well for an 800 cc car with 800 kgs of mass to move. It starts to develop torque flat-out and can cane even the most unlikeliest of suspects like the Esteem (carbueretted), Ikon 1.3 Endura and Santro 1.0s. Use the gears, especially 3rd and the roll-on from 40-80 leaves you stunned. The stability of the car at speeds upto 140 is pretty impressive. Sure it wavers a bit at 130+, but is far more stable than all its competitors, barring the B+ segment cars. The brakes do a decent job but tend to fade faster during hard driving for sometime. The gear-ratios are excellent, spot on both for city and highway driving. There is a 38% gap between the 3rd and 4th gear while there is a 23% gap between the 4th a 5th. Effectively you don't lose much power while moving up or down and the car tends to stay within the "power" revv-band.

The ride and handling package is truly a good compromise from a city use point of view. The ride is a bit harsh on bad roads, but on good and average ones with pockmarked potholes, it is quite good.The handling though is in a class of its own. I won't wink an eye when i say it has the sweetest chassis of any small car ever sold in India. The car loves to be thrown into corners like no other. The steering is so responsive and the feedback is so immense, that again, i have no doubt in saying that the only other small cars that give you this level of feedback are the Maruti 800 and Fiat Palio. Infact i find it to be a notch better. I have done crazy speeds of 120-130 kmph on high speed corners and yet the car showed a lot of composure for its size with minimum body-roll. If anyone really wants to buy a car he/she should head to the 2nd hand market, buy a good used Matiz, dump a 1.1 Alto engine and just have weekends of ear-to-ear smiles. Overall the car is one tough cookie, soaks in pretty much everything you throw at her.

And if that is not all, the AC is in a league of its own. Cooling, blower speeds, circulation, everything works rather well. The blower though is a tad noisy. But the rest of the package is excellent.

But all is not well with the Matiz for all its capabilites. Here's my list of woes with the car.

Interiors: Ergonomically great, the car has some flaws. The AC button is a tad small, the transparent plastic sheet that houses the dials causes glares, the dashboard fouls with your left knee and though the pedals are excellently placed, there's no dead pedal to place your left foot on. The boot is so small that a full sized suitcase for the airport is just what fits in. Albeit if your trip is no longer than a week. The light control stalk is on the left, wiper on the right. Can create problems for a first time driver. The A-Pillar creates a hindrance while driving. Its as wide as my thigh, if not wider. I got caught once for failing to notice the traffic havaldar. All thanks to protection over vision policy of Daewoo.

Exteriors: The tail-lights though look good intrude into boot space. The body isn't as strong as it looks. But when you do get into a situation it holds up. Car is rust prone if not maintained, especially body.

Mechanicals: Here's where my biggest grouse lies. If you notice my parts replaced section, the parts changed are far too high and too early in its life. Cooling coil at 33000 kms was expensive. 8 grand. Alternator at 27k kms=7 grand. Lower arms developed issues after i shifted from 145 Bridgestone S322s to 155 Michelins. Shan2nu earlier on had pointed out this problem and i am living testimony of it. New lower arms plus some other parts. 4 grand. The parts by themselves can take punishment, but then they don't last for long. Daewoo started cost-cutting ever since the first batches of Daewoo Euro-IIIs came out. Sad!

So what is there to take away from the car that i'd still call up GM and ask them to build this car?

Its perfectly sized, comfy and ideal for city conditions. Power steering is a must in this car though as my torn out bicep muscles would show. But what is most important is the package. Its still ahead of its times. When it launched the Euro-III range, the only cars that did comply with Euro-III norms in India were..... expected eh.... Mercedes. So oxygen sensors, lambda loops, strut braces, things that still some modern Indian cars don't have. The handling package still sets the tone for other small cars to beat. The AC still is powerful enough to beat some midsizers.

What GM really needs to do. Get the 1.1 Matiz. Improve quality levels and setup a good service network. Customers would be more than happy to buy one. Once again.

Revvmaster



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Old 17th October 2004, 02:29   #2
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hey revv,
that was really awesome.

satya
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Old 17th October 2004, 03:01   #3
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As u say , its worth buying a second hand MAtiz even today.
But the car must be well maintained and must be rust free
My friend sold his 2001 SG model with PW done 40000km averagely maintained car for 1.05 lak. definately worth it for the buyer
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Old 17th October 2004, 03:27   #4
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The matiz is an excellent car...its perfect for the city, im just in love with the engine note...how i miss the matiz i used to drive...n yes u do need power steering...trust me i know...i had the SD model too. The best part is that u can fit the car in gaps where even the cabbies wud think twice about.

Yeah the ride n handling compromise is the best among the small cars.

If the matiz was being sold by some company other than daewoo...im sure it wud be giving all the zens, indicas, santros etc a run for their money.

The problem with the cooling coil is i think normal...as the one in my matiz failed at about 13000kms at 4 yrs old...

apart from a few small problems like rev has mentioned before, its a great car...n if i had to buy a small car...this wud be it. N i doubt the 4 cylinder unit wud have the character of the 3 pot, regarding engine note etc.

Wish i had tht matiz back.
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Old 17th October 2004, 10:44   #5
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Great stuff Rev.
As you rightly said that car came in the market well before its time. Cooling coil problem may not be normal. I know at least three cars having no problem at all.
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Old 17th October 2004, 13:07   #6
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If Chevy launches the 1.1 Spark (Matiz) with a Strut Brace n all, i'm sure to go in n buy one of them. Or, get a old Matiz for maybe less than half that price and revamp it, plonk a Mpfi Zen in it and tune it for 70-85 bhp.

Fit a roll cage, bigger/broader/grippier wheels/tyres.........

Shan2nu
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Old 17th October 2004, 17:51   #7
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Rev,

dude that was an awesome review. the matiz was and will be the perfect city car.

get that free flow fitted on monday and i would want to test out your car.

cheers
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Old 18th October 2004, 01:07   #8
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Hey nice write up Revv!!
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Old 18th October 2004, 01:32   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] ] Cooling coil problem may not be normal. I know at least three cars having no problem at all.
Very true Rudra. Daewoo in its last two years showed inconsistent quality levels. That's what became one of the factors that eventually killed a great car.

Quote:
Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] ]The best part is that u can fit the car in gaps where even the cabbies wud think twice about.
You said it pal. The dimensions of the Matiz are perfect. You can slot it between traffic and in parking slots with ease. The bonnet is "virtually" absent, giving you the feeling that you are a lot closer to the car in front of you than you actually are. Only that darn thick A-pillar creates problems. Especially while coming out of arterial roads onto main roads and while parking.

Quote:
Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] ]Fit a roll cage, bigger/broader/grippier wheels/tyres.........
Just reminds me there, Overdrive in their June 1999 drive of the Matiz by the great old Ashraf Sheik mentioned that 155s is the maximum that the suspension setup can take. Very broad tyres might negate the car's capabilities. And to quote the climax of the article:

Likes: Lots to like.
Dislikes: Not much to dislike.

Quote:
Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] ]get that free flow fitted on monday and i would want to test out your car.
Certainly. Drop in any time pal.

Revv
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Old 18th October 2004, 03:07   #10
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awesome write up Revv.
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Old 18th October 2004, 20:50   #11
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Hey Rev,

come on dude with a review on that free flow. it sounded absolutely fantastic.

and yeah find some time off and come over to vashi pal, we will have fun here .

cheers...
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Old 7th February 2005, 05:07   #12
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Sorry folks, but my babe has gone!

After nearly 5 years of service, i bid my car goodbye on Sunday morning. While i made sure it went to someone who would take care of her, the memories attached with it just burns my heart apart. Hope she stays good and loyal wherever she might go in the future.

Revv
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Old 7th February 2005, 07:58   #13
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So what's coming up to replace?
Waiting for CIVIC? Looking for a low run VTEC?
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Old 7th February 2005, 08:04   #14
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I know how you feel dude...it always hurts to see your old car go.
Still out of curiousity...whats next?

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Old 7th February 2005, 17:38   #15
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rocking write up dude!
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