The latest SsangYong SUV is just dandy ...
SANGYONG has been with us for a few years now, but are still very much the new kids on the block in the UK motoring world. And like any newcomer who wants to be the best, they are very quick on the uptake - meaning the Korean manufacturer's latest offering is streets ahead of its predecessors. The heavily face-lifted for 2017 Korando 2.2 ELX 4x4, our test car this week has a standard equipment list that shames the opposition. And SsangYong are learning fast in the styling department too with this latest SUV fitting right in on our roads - being similar in looks and size to the Vauxhall Mokka and Hyundai ix 30 - unlike some of their early models which were, let's just say, a bit less than stylish. Buyers get a choice of two trim levels - base SE cars and our `upmarket' ELX model. The two-wheel-drive SE Korando is priced from £17,000, with the same car fitted with four-wheel-drive being £18,500. ELX comes with four-wheel-drive as standard and starts from £22,000. Base level SE cars have Bluetooth connectivity, air-conditioning, electric and heated door mirrors
plus roof rails and tinted rear windows. ELX gets all that ldt plus a rear view camera, leather seats (front heated and driver's electric), touch screen sat nav, auto air con, heated steering wheel, cruise control, on demand all wheel drive (with electronic cliff lock), privacy rear glass, 18" diamond cut alloy wheels, hill start assist, speed camera alert, door 'puddle lights,' and tyre pressure monitoring. The changes to the 2017 Korando outside are quite subtle but still mark it out from the old model with a new front end - grille, headlamp design and bumper changes - plus those smart new alloy wheels and LED daytime running lights.
The infotainment and TomTom navigation system and 176bhp 2.2-litre turbo diesel engine carry over
from the 2015 model and there is a choice between a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic gearbox for an extra £1,500. As well as being good value to buy, the new Korando is economical to run with up to 56mpg claimed on extra urban driving - it certainly seemed to do well in the `go juice' department during our week of mixed motorway and B-road driving where I scored 44mpg overall. And performance is also surprisingly acceptable with 0 to 62 coming up in around 10 seconds and a top speed of 115mph plus a two-tonne towing capacity, which is one of the Korando's trump cards with the caravan fraternity. Now it may not have helped the SsangYong that the previous week's test car was a Bentley Bentayga which, quite literally, cost almost ten times as much at £205,000.
So I was expecting to really feel the difference between the two, opposite end of the price range SUVs but the SsangYong held its own - and in terms of value for money is terrific given its standard equipment. In fact over the week it grew on me - yes the interior finishes are still a little dark plastic and switchgear a bit random and, yes, it is a little clunky compared to the Nissans, Hyundais and KIAs (mainly the manual gearbox), but at that price the only serious competitor is the budget Dacia Duster which has much less power and a spartan standard ldt list. I also liked the fact that the rear seat backrests have two upright positions to allow for more luggage room or more rear passenger space and also fold almost totally fiat for serious load carrying. A couple of other minor gripes were no DAB radio and the cruise control is not adaptive - oh yes and the colour of our test car was a bit off-putting. It was quite a nice shade but the name left a lot to be desired as our SsangYong came in Dandy Blue! More information at www. ssangyonggb.co.uk.
STEVE HOWARTH WITH THE LATEST ON FOUR WHEELS