FRANKFURT - Tacuma, Tacuma, Tacuma, Tacuma, Tacuma ....
The name of Daewoo's new compact minivan sounds like a drumbeat.
Appropriately, the vehicle was introduced to the media by a quartet of percussionists Sept. 13 on the eve of press days at the Frankfurt auto show.
They pounded away on old car parts, stepladders and even drums in a half-hour ritual that climaxed just after midnight with the unveiling of the Tacuma.
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 Zafira. The company hasn't decided if it will be sold in the United States.
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. 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 will offer a four-speed automatic and a five-speed manual transmission. A 1.9-liter diesel also is being developed.
Elements of the concepts likely will be toned down for production. Each vertical taillight panel on the Sport, for example, is made of 18 lights set in polka-dot fashion.
The cars 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 deeply in debt and is operating under a government-backed restructuring plan.
Two people listed in the program were missing from the Tacuma's preview at Frankfurt: Chairman Kim Woo-Choong and President Kim Tae-Gou.
They could not find the time to make it, the audience was told. Daewoo'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.