Of all the reviews I’ve read in evo magazine, it’s perhaps quite telling that the one I remember most is the Daewoo Kalos Blue. Even taking into account the fact that the mag felt a little more ‘everyman’ back in 2003, seeing a Daewoo on the hallowed pages of evo still seemed a bit of stretch.
Surely a Daewoo couldn’t reach the heights of the Proton Satria GTI by muscling in on the B-road establishment? As it happened, no it couldn’t.
I tried to avoid glancing down at the verdict at the foot of the page before I read the words, but the single red star stood out like a stone chip on a freshly waxed bonnet. It’s fair to say the Daewoo Kalos Blue wasn’t going to find a home on the fabled ‘Knowledge’ pages at the back of the mag. Forget any thoughts of this being a hot or even a lukewarm hatch. By all accounts, the Kalos Blue had been treated to little more than 20 seconds in a microwave.
The clue was in the name. While a GTI label would be an insult to the badge, warm hatches tend to be called GT or Sport. By naming their ‘squint and it looks like an MG ZR’ hatchback ‘Blue’, Daewoo was managing expectations. And let’s face it, back in 2003 we weren’t expecting much from the Korean giant.
But, 13 years on, is it time to cut the Kalos Blue some slack? The Kalos name has been all but forgotten in the UK – a halfway house between the old Daewoo Lanos and the ignominy of being rebadged as the Chevrolet Aveo. Sure, the Kalos is unlikely to go down as Giugiaro’s greatest creation, but it moved the game on from the Lanos.
All of which makes the transformation from magnolia to Blue all the more remarkable. It’s amazing what a set of ‘phat’ arches, side skirts, chunky bumpers and 15-inch alloy wheels can do for a car. The new exhaust and ‘slammed’ suspension completes the pretence. Sadly, Daewoo chose to do nothing with the Astra-sourced 1.4-litre engine.
But it was enough to convince around 180 punters to part with their well-earned £9,995. Don’t be too dismissive of the 93bhp offered by that mighty 1.4-litre 16-valve engine, the fact that the horses start galloping at 6,200rpm suggests the Kalos Blue might offer some Swift Sport style thrills at the far reaches of the rev counter. And a 0-60 time of 11.1 seconds is meaningless when you’re having fun on a British B-road.
Is it fun? The evo reviews suggests not, but 13 years on (yes, THIRTEEN), does the Kalos Blue offer cheap thrills and no frills in a world obsessed with turbocharging and MOARPOWER? Answers on a postcard to the usual address, because PetrolBlog is keen to find out if the Daewoo with a name that sounds like a home pregnancy test deserves a place in the PB Museum of the Ordinary.
The signs aren’t great. Almost all the cars that come up for sale seem to wear a number plate preceded by the letter ‘K’, denoting an original registration in Milton Keynes – the former home of Daewoo GB. So, of the 180 or so cars, many are likely to have been dealer demonstrators or head office vehicles.
Furthermore, a quick search of the MOT history of each available Kalos Blue indicates a lifetime of neglect and misuse. Failures and advisories for tyres, suspension and brakes suggests that owners see these cars as little more than transport to get from A to B. If a dealer managed to up-sell a Kalos customer to a flagship Blue, that’s fine. But finding secondhand buyers was always going to be a struggle, so values soon plummeted.
Give it a few years and the Daewoo Kalos Blue will be on the critical list. Do we care; should we care? If you own or know somebody who owned a Daewoo Kalos Blue, get in touch. We’ll be waiting for your call.