Ssangyong are back with a Giugiaro-styled Korando

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

The new Ssangyong Korando may not stand out from the crowd, but that’s no bad thing.

Ssangyong are back in the game with some smart new models. TOM SCANLAN has a look at two of the latest offerings.

SSangyong? Oh yes… sort of forgotten about them. They came in in the 1990s with that rather weird Musso, albeit with a previous generation Mercedes diesel engine. Then there was the Korando. Well, there still is, and a perfectly good car it appears to be in its latest monocoque incarnation.
There’s nothing weird about this Korando. No, it would not stand out in a crowd of off-roaders, SUVs or Crossovers – and that’s not meant to be insulting. On the contrary, the styling by the classic Italian house of Giugiaro is rather attractive to this beholder, with a nice combination of strength with, for this sector, good looks.
Wheelworldreviews tested two versions, the cheaper being the 2WD (so beware off-roading) ES manual, at £19,495 and the EX Auto 4WD at £22,995.
The engine in both models is a 2-litre 4-cylinder twin-cam common-rail diesel, and the standard equipment on the cars is identical and quite comprehensive.
For the launch to the press the cars also had identical optional extras of metallic paint (£500), Satellite navigation and radio (£999) and a detachable towbar and electrics (£602). So add £2101 to the basic prices.
ES first: first impressions were that the 175 bhp engine needed a bit of a push, but once you’d got used to that it didn’t seem to be a problem and the car bounded along just fine; 60 mph can be reached in less than 10 seconds. OK, it was sometimes necessary to change gear, but is that such a bad thing? Perhaps the relatively high bhp figure and diesel torque leads the car’s driver to think it’ll go anywhere in top.
The engine was perhaps not the quietest in the class, or perhaps more could be done to blank the noise from intruding into the cabin, but it’s not bad, really and something that the human ear automatically blocks out after a while (at least in my case).
The automatic version has a six-speed T-Tronic box. This was a very smooth operator. However, it’s a real quirk that, in manual mode, the instrument display shows the gear you have selected (4th, for example) for quick acceleration or slowing down from a higher gear. The number ‘4’ then stays on the display, even if other gears then automatically over-ride (as all such gearboxes do) your original selection as circumstances dictate to the car’s system. Even if you have come to a complete stop, the display will show ‘4’, or whatever your selection was, when in fact the car is now in first. Most unusual and not a great idea.
Both cars were the same in other respects, of course. The steering was a touch on the heavy side, with a deadness at the straight-ahead position, while the handling, whilst not being the most precise, was perfectly acceptable. The brakes were fine and pulled off an impressive emergency stop.
I found the ride and the seats to be very comfortable and the view out really good, although the standard rear parking sensors were a very useful feature. The driving position was very good with tilt and reach adjustment on the steering column. Passengers will also feel comfortable and the Korando is one of not many cars that can accommodate three adults across the back seats in reasonable comfort; one reason for this is that the transmission’s central tunnel is relatively unobtrusive.
The manual version recorded 30.7 mpg on a mainly cross-country route and the auto returned 28.1 mpg on the identical route, both figures from the car’s own trip meters. Official combined consumptions are very different; 47.1 and 37.7 respectively!
The Korando appeared to be well-built with no obvious defects, so let’s hope that it remains so as the miles pile up.
Safety equipment is well up to the mark with most anti-skid devices in place and the comfort and convenience specification column also has an impressively long list.
Ssangyong appreciates that it has struggled somewhat over the years in the UK, but are working hard at it, including the aim of having a dealership number up to at least 60 before the end of next year.

Rating: ★★★★☆

The Korando is tough enough for some real off-roading.