The Ssangyong Korando is the latest entry in the compact SUV market, meaning all three Korean manufacturers have brought new cars to this segment in the past two years.
Available only with a new diesel engine, the Korando is well equipped and – like its Korean competitors – offers great value and a surprising package, wrapped in a stylish body.
At $30,311 MLP, the Korando SX sits midway through the three-level Korando range that starts at $26,311 and runs to $36,811 MLP.
The SX offers as standard 17-inch alloy wheels with 225/60×17 tyres, six airbags, Electronic Stability Program (ESP), leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearlever, climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, six-speaker CD audio with USB/MP3 connectivity, cruise control, trip computer, cargo cover and Ssangyong’s Active AWD system.
Under the bonnet sits a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel producing 129kW of power and 360Nm of torque, although maximum torque arrives between 2000rpm and 3000rpm. Pulling power is excellent in the mid-range but the slim torque range can sometimes leave you scrabbling for lower gears when turning corners or ascending hills.
Already Euro-V compliant, the diesel is not the quietest but at least it’ relatively smooth. Economy is acceptable with an official combined figure of 6.4 litres/100kms for the 6-speed manual, even though we only managed a high-sevens average after 400kms in a barely run-in test car.
Behind the wheel, the dashboard is well laid out and the controls easy to use. Hard plastic abounds in the dash and door-trim but the design is pleasing. Seats are comfortable and nicely trimmed, with driver and passenger enjoying good support and rear seat passengers having lots of legroom to make longer trips bearable.
Flat folding 60/40 split rear seats and a huge boot mean there’s plenty of luggage space.
The leather-wrapped wheel lacks reach adjustment and direct steering that lacks feel and is too slow. The clutch is light but there’s no left footrest meaning the driver’s left foot has to hover over the clutch pedal or wriggle under it.
The gearchange is a little rubbery and the standard 6-speed gearbox could use better gearing. Second gear is too low but third struggles to pull around many city and suburban corners. Once in top gear on the open road, the Korando settles into a relaxing, economical cruise.
Built on a monocoque chassis, the Korando’s suspension feels car-like most of the time although bigger bumps can unsettle it. There’s more body roll than expected and tyre grip could be better. On unsealed roads, the car is reasonably surefooted and getting onto dirt tracks is possible with the Active AWD system that directs more torque to the rear end to enhance grip.
The Ssangyong Korando SX demonstrates again that Korea really understands that good styling is critical to sales success. With a modern, economical diesel under the bonnet, a part-time 4WD system and a well-equipped spacious cabin for five people, the Korando offers outstanding value and should cause a few compact SUV buyers to take a second look.
What is good:
· 2.0L diesel’s mid-range performance
· Stylish good looks
· 5-year warranty
What is not so good:
· Noisy diesel
· Hard plastic trim
· No clutch footrest or steering reach adjustment
Model Ssangyong Korando SX
Model Price $30,311 MLP
Drivetrain AWD 2.0L Diesel 6 speed manual
Power 129 Kw @ 4,000 rpm
Torque 360 Nm @ 2,000-3,000rpm
CO2 Emissions 169 g/km
Green Vehicle Rating N/A
Economy (ADR comb) 6.4 L/100km
Tow Capacity – Max 2000 kg
Tow Ball Rating 80 kg
Servicing $971 3yrs/45,000 Km
Warranty 5yr/100,000 kms with 5yr roadside assist
Overall OzRoamer Rating 79/100
Behind the Wheel 8
Ride & Handling 7
Fit for Purpose 8
Towing Ability 8
Off Road Ability 7
Value for Money 9