SsangYong Korando review

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The five seat Korando is Korea’s longest serving car nameplate and is a play on Korea-can-do. The new SUV is targeting the likes of the Nissan Qashqai and Hyundai Tucson slotting in between both in terms of length and height. The new Korando’s signals a fresh start for the brand under its new distributor in Ireland. We went to Madrid to put the new contender through its paces.

With pricing from €24,495 the new Korando is considerably cheaper than the best selling Qashqai from €26,695 and Tucson from €27,495 – but is it any good?

SsangYong’s own engines are used in Korando with a choice of a new 1.5 litre turbo petrol engine or revised 1.6 litre diesel – both are Euro6d-TEMP compliant. An all-electric Korando will also be built and on sale in January 2021.The fourth generation Korando is longer, wider and lower and clearly SsangYong’s best looking car yet. For any other brand this would be high praise but SsangYong has a track history of making some truly ugly vehicles e.g. the Rodius. The Korando’s appearance continues on where its smaller sibling and Pininfarina styled Tivoli left off. There is a smart front end with a slim grille and a nice light signature that could be a tribute to VW. Viewed side on there are a couple of strong crease lines in the metal with the rear hip crease most notable. The near vertical tailgate has perfectly acceptable styling and is a far cry from pre Tivoli SsangYongs that only a mother could love.

Inside the cabin is as big as anything in the class and seats five in comfort. The dash layout and build is right up there, quite smart and features nice design lines also. All grades bar the entry model get a centre touch screen display and Apple Carplay and Google Andorid Auto phone connectivity. Again depending on the grade you can even get ventilated front seats and a hands free tailgate. A host of the latest ADAS driver assistance systems are available too and our top grade test cars had lane keeping assistant, front vehicle start alert and distance alert to name a few. The Korando scores well in collision testing with a five star NCAP rating. Irish cars come with an inflation kit with a space saver spare a dealership option. The 551 litre boot includes a split ‘magic tray’ floor similar to the Nissan Qashqai’s. There is up to 1,248 litres of cargo space with the rear seats folded down.

The petrol Korando develops 163hp and 280nm of torque. The passenger diesel (from €26,495) has less horse power with 136 but lots of torque at 324nm. The commercial diesel’s 1.6 is electronically remapped to deliver 160hp to make it enticing in its sector. The six speed manual petrol is a relatively pleasant car to drive. It delivers a similar driving experience to rival SUVs so it is predictable, uninvolving and quite bland. The controls are light and easy to use with only the gearbox proving a little lumpy when shifting. Reduced NVH levels make the large cabin a noticeably quiet place to be with little or no engine noise audible. The new platform and its extended wheelbase has created a lot of passenger room. On the motorway out test car was a good cruiser. Twisty roads won’t encourage enthusiastic driving but progress is made in a perfectly adequate way. The diesel version pulls strongly but is a little rougher and more conspicuous than the smoother petrol. The diesel makes more sense for high mileage use. Thankfully with the addition of an AdBlue tank the engine from the SsangYong Tivoli should have a few years grace before being demonised. The six speed automatic is a traditional box, it will be pricey and is not overly clever. We tested the auto in an AWD diesel and it was adequate. The auto diesel Korando can tow up to 2 tonnes with the other versions capable of 1.5 tonnes.

For urban use petrol manual is the way to go as spending big on a minnow brand is a gamble. That said, McKenna has put a good warranty in place with the manufacturer’s three year 150,000km warranty beefed up five years with unlimited* mileage (*300,000km for Taxis) on all passenger models. All commercial SsangYongs get a five year 150,000km warranty. A large initial marketing spend for Ireland will concentrate on localised promotion with a 50/50 financial split between dealer and distributor. McKenna, who freely gives out his mobile number to new customers feels SsangYong will only build success by being more open and approachable than the bigger brands.

The SsangYong Korando goes on sale this December 6th with ES, EL and ELX the grades available. SsangYong says the Korando will outshine its rivals by offering better value for money. The trouble is when you buy cheap you invariably have to sell cheap later on. The front wheel drive EL petrol is expected to be the big seller with the diesel version close. AWD and automatic versions can be bought by special ordered.

The new Korando is the best SsangYong yet and can happily sit among the volume selling brands.

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About Author

Michael Sheridan

Michael is Motorhub's Editor. Well known from TV and radio, Michael has been writing, presenting and judging cars since the mid 90's. He is a renowned Producer/Director and documentary film maker. Dozens of credits include: The Whole Way Round (Gay Byrne), The Shamrock Run (Alan Shortt), The Viking Run (Clodagh McKenna) and The Irish 66ers (David Mitchell) and The Climb for Kids (Colin Farrell). Print credits include: the RTE Guide (motoring editor 1999-2003), many national daily papers and Sundays including The Irish Times (freelance) plus other magazines. National radio credits include multiple at RTE Gerry Ryan show, the Mooney Show, The Dave Fanning Show, Drivetime etc. TV credits as a motoring expert include RTE's flagship current affairs show Primetime and TV3's Ireland AM. Michael also presented RTE's car show Drive! in the late 90s and directed some items in MPH2 on TG4. Michael contributes weekly on motoring issues to The Last Word show with Matt Cooper on Today FM. Michael has represented Ireland's motoring journalists in Motorsport at the International Mazda MX-5 endurance race series in Italy and the Arctic Ice Race. He has been a Car of the Year Judge for over 18 years and is a former Chairperson of the Association of Professional Motoring Press (APMP).

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