Thursday 14th April 2016
SSANGYONG'S VALUE FOR MONEY 4X4
ROAD TEST: SSANGYONG KORANDO 4X4 - STARTING TO MAKE SENSE
The Korando is a well-priced budget SUV with immense towing capacity and a brilliant cabin. SsangYong has worked hard to improve the powertrain with the addition of a 2.2-litre diesel engine and a new six-speed automatic gearbox. I put this new combination to the test with a 1,000km drive back from the Geneva Motor Show.
SsangYong has been producing competitive cars for the past few years, including the Tivoli and Korando Sports pickup, but the South Korean firm lacks any real brand presence in the UK. The majority of British buyers will opt for a more mainstream badge, even if the Korando outperforms key rivals in certain areas.
SsangYong’s fledgling design language is beginning to emerge. It’s a conventionally nice-looking car, put together by Italian design house Giugiaro, and is unusual enough in Britain to earn a few second glances from passers-by. You’re likely to be the only SsangYong owner in the carpark, too.
Colours include ‘Dandy Blue’, ‘Flaming Red’ and ‘Grand White’.
It’s hard to fault the Korando’s cabin. The driver and front passenger benefit from very comfortable seats, built using high-quality materials and designed in a way that suits adults of all sizes. It matches the quality of the best in this sector, and outperforms several key rivals. Lumbar support for the driver takes the physical strain out of long journeys. I suffered no ill-effects on my mammoth journey in one – which is more than can be said for other small SUVs.
Rear passengers are also extremely well catered-for. The floor is low and the legroom is generous, making the Korando one of the few SUVs that can genuinely carry five adults in relative comfort. The boot – a useful 486 litres – has a wide aperture for easy loading, and no lip to obstruct heavy objects.
The new engine, a 2.2-litre diesel, produces the kind of power needed to tow a caravan and to overtake swiftly on the motorway. In fact, the performance figures are fine – 0-60mph in just under ten seconds is perfectly adequate on paper for a cheap SUV.
The SE trim, SsangYong’s entry-level Korando, comes with some infotainment connectivity and basic functions such as cruise control. Upgrade to EX and you get a more sophisticated set of conveniences, and ELX for the top-of-the-range luxury package includes heated seats in the rear.
This car represents good value for money at its starting price of £16,000 for a two-wheel-drive option and £17,500 for a 4x4, but we’d argue that the more expensive models are where the clever money is. For £22,495 you get a four-wheel-drive model with the new automatic gearbox and all the features you’d expect from a much more expensive car: TomTom satellite navigation, heated leather seats all ‘round, 18-inch alloys, privacy glass, rear-view camera, and some pleasing chrome exterior details.
SsangYong are rare enough that they still raise a few eyebrows in the UK. But it’s destined to follow brands like Kia and Skoda – companies that sold a few thousand cars a year in the early 1990s, and now compete with the very best.
The Korando is a terrific tow car. Comfortable vehicles with this capacity for load-lugging are few and far-between, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a cheaper alternative without buying second-hand. Design features like the wide-opening, lip free boot add to the ‘utility’ element of this SUV, making up for the striking lack of any ‘sporting’ characteristics. The excellent cabin makes the Korando a versatile car for families of all sizes.
The Korando can tow a horsebox or caravan, can accommodate five adults and two medium-sized dogs in total comfort, and costs significantly less than comparable models from mainstream brands.
It’s a sensible choice for the thrifty buyer.
Engine: 2.2-litre diesel producing 178PS and 400Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic powering all wheels
Performance: 115mph top speed, 0-62mph in 9.9 seconds
Dealer details: MTC Cars SsangYong, 157 Eastrea Rd, Whittlesey, Peterborough PE7 2AJ | 01733 309782 | www.mtcars.co.ukClick here to request a brochure