The Daewoo Matiz runs on a transverse 3 cylinder engine, yes that’s a 3 cylinder 0.8 Litre engine, a rarity for a car this class and size which are usually comprised of 4 cylinder engines. Matched with a 5-speed manual transmission, the Matiz makes good use of its little 0.8 engine which produce 37.5kW of power a 60Nm of torque respectively. Running on regular 91 unleaded and fitted a 35 litre fuel tank, the Matiz returns a claimed highway cycle of just 4.4 litres per 100kms.
At a price of $12,000 brand new, the Matiz was born purely on a value proposition. The amount of standard equipment in this little jigger is astounding which includes air conditioning, power steering, CD player, central locking and dual front air-bags. All for $12,000!!! Add in the capability of fitting five adults in sufficient comfort (for short trips!), the Matiz is quite the affordable value proposition.
Exterior wise, the Daewoo Matiz is notable for its love it or hate it front end styling appearing a bit too cutesy. Side proportions of the car are quite slick with strong b-pillar proportions while the back end appears quite masculine and taunt though it’s narrow width does make it smaller and more vulnerable to traffic around it.
Inside, the Matiz succeeds. Its dashboard layout is very ergonomic, with everything within hand and nice touches including a digital clock and front power window switches located in the centre console position. The Matiz does suffers from a lack of storage areas for personal items but does feature a neat cup holder. Kudos also go towards the Matiz seating versatility which fold up against the driver and front passenger seats providing a good amount of space for transporting items. The seats prove to be comfortable for short journeys only and interior proportions are quite tall for a car this size, meaning 6.2” giants like myself can fit in it with no compromise. The Matiz also gains praise for its exceptional tall design, which provides easy navigation and limitless parking while showcasing an excellent turning circle for tight spaces.
Once on the go, the Matiz’ performance proves to be quite the amusement providing fun performance and good doses of power when needed. With just 776kg under its belt, it can easily return 600km’s on a full tank of fuel, regardless of urban or highway driving. Its performance at 100km an hour can bring in high levels of road noise but that doesn’t stop it from prodding along with no hassle whatsoever. For a car of this size, the engine fits the Matiz nicely which proves to be a very capable car with an engine willingness to rev its heart out. Add in the crispness of its power steering, the Matiz showcases quite a nimble, capable and agile light car.
But where the Matiz succeeds with its small engine, size and fuel economy, the engine itself is also its downfall. Its problem comes back to the Matiz’ lack of power and it becomes blatantly obvious from turning the key. With only 37.5kW of power, the Matiz doesn’t exactly scream fast. Initial start-up for the Matiz can prove to be heavy clutch work especially in the colder months appearing quite gruff and agricultural.
Its lack of torque, also means the Matiz is in no hurry to get to the required speed, which can be a dangerous situation when navigating fast paced roads and highway. It doesn’t help the Matiz on any scale when a passenger is added to the equation, proving to be a handful for its small engine. While a lack of general refinement in the transmission means changing gears becomes more of a challenge, than a natural instinct.
Although the Matiz has shortcomings related to the engines driveability and performance, the car itself proves to be a winner in its ergonomic and functional interior, exceptional fuel economy and excellent seat versatility and driveability. It’s clear the engine isn’t the Matiz’ selling point but then again it’s not meant to be. It’s born to get you from A to B and although it doesn’t have the performance of a Ferrari, it’s the fuel savings that are worth the wait.