FRAKFURT - Tacuma, Tacuma, Tacuma, Tacuma, Tacuma ...
The name of Daewoo's new compact minivan sounds like a drumbeat. Appropriately, the car was introduced to the media by a quartet of percussionists on September 13 at the L.O.F.T. house on the outskirts of Frankfurt. They pounded away on old car parts, stepladders and even drums in a half-hour ritual that climaxed just after midnight with the Tacuma's unveiling.
It was a lot of fuss for a mini people carrier. The Tacuma goes on sale in Korea in the first half of next year. It will make its debut in Europe next July or August, where it will compete with such vehicles as the Renault Scenic and Opel/Vauxhall Zafira.
'We think there is great potential for this vehicle in Europe,' said Han Young, manager of product planning at the company's Worthing Technical Center in England.
Daewoo showed two versions of the Tacuma. A 'Sport' edition wore a two-tone blue-and-silver paint job. (Three-tone, actually, if you count the gold border around the grille.) The more subdued 'Style' version was lime green in color. Daewoo says it is geared to executive tastes.
The front-wheel-drive Tacuma seats five. It had disc brakes in front and drums in the rear.
Power for the Style will come from a 16-valve, 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine. The Sport has a 16-valve, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine. Each version will carry a four-speed automatic and a five-speed manual transmission. A 1.9-liter diesel engine is also being developed.
Elements of the concepts will likely be toned down for production. Each vertical tail-light panel on the Sport, for example, is made of 18 lights set in polka-dot fashion.
The cars have been engineered at Worthing. They will be built in Kunsan, South Korea. Within several years, Daewoo hopes to sell 300,000 worldwide annually.
That, of course, assumes that Daewoo manages to survive its current crisis. The company is deep in debt and operating under a government-backed restructuring plan. (See separate story on this page.)
The Tacuma's Frankfurt auto show preview was marked by the absence of two people listed on the program: Chairman Kim Woo-Choong and President Kim Tae-Gou.
They could not find the time to make it, the audience was told. The company's negotiations with General Motors over a possible partnership were described as 'intensive'.
Sport and leisure, the two traits embodied by the Tacuma, must have been far from the executives' minds.