KOREAN come-back kids SsangYong are proud of their new Korando. And rightly so. It’s a cheap, attractive and well-specced SUV that’s caught some of its rivals napping.
It heralds a new beginning for SsangYong, which has ridden out a rough patch and is nowready to take the UK market by stormwith its affordable 4x4s.
While sales of its relatively unloved Rexton and awkwardly-styled Rodius are steadily recovering, bosses are pinning their hopes on the Korando, the smallest car SsangYong sells in the UK, being the big hitter that sparks a renaissance for the brand.
But has the Korando got what it takes to help reinstate SsangYong as a marque to be reckoned with in some fairly competitive sectors? Well, from the outside it’s all good news. It Guigarostyled looks are well proportioned from all angles, it comes in a range of modern and stylish colours and there’s some nice detailing to make it stand out.
Inside it’s less impressive. There’s a lot of cheap plastics, the steering wheel feels cheap and the optional bluetooth in-car entertainment system is horrible to use.
The engine noise is too intrusive and the automatic gearbox is lethargic and ruins the otherwise fine handling — which is a pleasant surprise — especially given the soft ride.
The interior does have its plus-points though.
Standard kit is very generous for such a cheap SUV and even extends, in the posher models, to heated rear seats — which have acres of legroom and also recline.
Cabin space is a big bonus. It feels very roomy all round, there’s great visibility and the entire interior feels light and airy.
In fact, for such a competitively-priced small SUV it’s actually easy to forgive the cheap plastics and engine noise, because other parts of the recipe are all there.
Although all the trim levels are priced comfortably below its competitors from the likes of Kia and Hyundai, the lower-spec 2wd base model, with a manual gearbox, makes the most sense and shows the car off in its best light.
It’s a great budget-SUV that offers very much for very little and, while there are some awkward stumbling blocks in its quest to battle the big names, it does step up the mark offering a five year unlimited mileage warranty and I admire it for not trying to be something it’s not.
So while there’s a lot riding on the Korando, there’s a lot to like about it. SsangYong seems primed and ready to start its new journey with this promising new model.
I wish them all the best.
Engine and power: Two-litre, four cylinder diesel producing 175bhp at 4,000rpm and 360nm at 2,000 to 3,000rpm
0-62mph: 9.9 seconds Max speed: 112mph
Size: 4,410mm (L) x 1,830mm (W) x 1,710 (H)
Efficiency: combined 37.7mpg, urban 29.5mpg, extra-urban 44.9mpg
Boot space: 486 litres