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 Malta. 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 a 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 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 there is 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 are right up there, quite smart and feature nice design lines also. All grades bar the entry model get a centre touchscreen display and Apple Carplay and Google Android 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 and a dealership option. The 551-litre boot includes a split ‘magic tray’ floor similar to the Nissan Qashqai’s. There are up to 1,248 litres of cargo space with the rear seats folded down.
The petrol Korando develops 163hp and 280 nm of torque. The passenger diesel (from €26,495) has less horsepower with 136 but lots of torque at 324 nm. 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 have created a lot of passenger rooms. On the motorway, our 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 to five years with unlimited* mileage (*300,000km for Taxis) on all passenger models. All commercial SsangYongs get a five-year 150,000km warranty. Large initial marketing spends for Malta 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 as 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 order.
The new Korando is the best SsangYong yet and can happily sit among the volume selling brands.
Credits: MICHAEL SHERIDAN