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Tested 11.11.98

Styled by Italdesign, the Matiz used a single-cam 796cc threepot to drive the front wheels via a Daewoo-developed five-speed manual gearbox. Suspension was by front MacPherson struts and rear trailing arms. Front vented discs and rear drums did the stopping. ABS was optional. 

The responsive, thrumming triple was eager to rev, providing subjectively swifter progress than its lowly performance figures suggested, aided by the slick gearbox. The ABS-free brakes on our car returned poor emergency stop performance due to repeated locking. 

The composed low-speed ride and light, accurate steering worked well in town, but adding pace led the suspension to meet its stops and produced lots of roll and strong understeer. Grip was poor, too. 

The interior was well built, looked cheery, could seat four adults and had reasonable boot space with the rear bench flat. 

The car was great value, too. Even after options such as air conditioning, metallic paint, ABS and a CD player were chosen, the SE model still cost £1000 less than the equivalent Ford Ka.

For: Cute looks, willing engine, terrific value 

Against: Lumpy A-road ride, dubious stability

Factfile

Price £7020 Engine 3 cyls in line, 796cc, petrol Power 50bhp at 5900rpm Torque 51lb ft at 4600rpm 0-60mph 19.0sec 0-100mph na Standing-quarter 21.4sec, 63mph Top speed 85mph Economy 33.1mpg

What happened next?

A 64bhp four-cylinder 1.0-litre was added to the range. Then, rebranded as a Chevrolet, the facelifted Matiz appeared in 2005 with a tweaked chassis to include a rear torsion beam, but roll remained a problem. A sharper-looking Chevrolet Spark replaced the Matiz in 2010 but it was outclassed by its rivals.

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