SsangYong says its new Korando is “the most stylish and best designed SsangYong ever”. That’s a bold claim considering famed Italian design studio Giugiaro has been a long-term partner with the Korean company and has crafted other vehicles like the SsangYong Rexton.
But it’s also true. The Korando was designed from day one to be a genuine international market vehicle for SsangYong whereas as some previous designs have been tailored for the home Korean market – a market where SsangYong sells well, behind rivals Hyundai and Kia.
Priced from $26,990, the SsangYong Korando shapes up against rivals like the Hyundai ix35, Kia Sportage and Great Wall X240.
SsangYong Korando Overview
SsangYong Korando is SsangYong’s first compact SUV and joins the Actyon, Kyron and Rexton in a four-model SsangYong SUV squad. And that squad is renowned for go-anywhere off-road prowess.
SsangYong Korando is sold in three models grades with the entry-level S available as a front-driver (the rest are all-wheel-drive).
Europe is a big market for SsangYong (the Korean brand is very popular in Greece) so the Korando’s diesel engine is compliant with Euro5 emissions.
And SsangYong Korando comes well equipped with standard features like audio streaming Bluetooth sound, ESP, cruise control and a handy 2,000kgs towing capacity (class-leading according to SsangYong).
SsangYong Korando Engine
For some years SsangYong was well known due to its collaboration with Mercedes-Benz. After using those German powerplants, SsangYong’s engineers formed a great base of knowledge to begin designing and manufacturing their own engines.
The SsangYong Korando is a perfect example. Korando is powered by SsangYong’s new e-Xdi200 engine – a two-litre turbo-diesel employing common-rail high-pressure direct injection and a variable geometry turbocharger.
Maximum power is 129kW at 4000rpm and peak torque of 360Nm is available from 2000rpm. By comparison, Great Wall’s 2.0-litre petrol engine is good for only 100kW/200Nm, while the 2.0-litre turbo-diesels in Kia Sportage and Hyundai ix35 deliver 135kW/392Nm.
SsangYong says combined cycle fuel consumption for the SsangYong Korando is 6.1l/100kms for the five-speed manual or 7.3l/100kms for the six-speed automatic.
Our test car was fitted with the five-speed manual transmission and we found good acceleration throughout the rev range (the torque curve is impressively flat) however when worked hard our SsangYong Korando was just a bit noisy (especially when compared with the latest European turbo-diesels).
SsangYong Korando The Interior
SsangYong has certainly stepped up with the Korando’s interior – more modern and stylish than other SsangYong models.
We liked the leather-wrapped steering wheel in our test car although it only adjusted for rake (no reach adjustment). Height adjustment for the drivers’ seat did help the driving position.
Instrumentation is conventional gauges and the six-speaker CD audio system has MP3, USB and Bluetooth audio streaming with remote controls on the steering wheel.
Rear seat accommodation was on par with others in this segment and the adjustable seat backs provided those in the rear with an extra degree of comfort. SsangYong Korando – like other SsangYongs to be honest – scored points for families with lots of interior storage locations for drink bottles etc.
Luggage space is impressive – 486-litres – and the rear seat split folds 60:40 for extra cargo versatility. We liked the under-floor bins in the rear – so you can store items out of sight when parked.
We must deduct points from the SsangYong Korando’s interior for the cramped drivers footwell. It felt a tad tight and there was no left foot rest.
SsangYong Korando Exterior & Styling
Italian design powerhouse Giugiaro has been involved with SsangYong for some time and is responsible for the Korando’s modern looks.
Pleasingly Giugiaro has given the Korando a modern grille with contemporary, one-piece wraparound headlights (other SsangYong models run grilles which are…uhm, unusual?). The grille features a sporty mesh and the curved front bumper runs a low lip spoiler.
From the side, the thin, sloping A-pillar, strong waistline and thick C-pillar give the SsangYong Korando a cohesive look which is international (other SsangYongs, tailored to the Korean market, have too many sharp angles for some tastes).
The rear is a complex combination of curves which combine to give the SsangYong Korando a muscly look.
SsangYong Korando On The Road
SsangYong has equipped the Korando with a world-class lineup of electronic driver aids including Electronic Stability Program (ESP), Active Rollover Protection (ARP), hill-start assist and traction control. Suspension is the usual MacPherson strut front/independent rear.
During our week in the SsangYong Korando we ran our usual combination of city and rural driving and on most counts it was impressive – in fact, going up-scale the SsangYong Rexton is a good drive too. Ride and handling matched others in the segment with the usual SUV body roll and some firmness over speed bumps.
Over our high-speed mountain roads loop, the SsangYong Korando performed admirably although perhaps not quite as pin-sharp in the steering as Kia’s accomplished Sportage.
In the city the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel and manual five-speeder were well matched with just a hint of turbo lag when accelerating from low speeds in freeway merging. Lots of steering lock, good visibility and its handy size meant the SsangYong Korando wasn’t a headache in our CBD car park.
SsangYong Korando Challenges
Our only criticisms driving the SsangYong Korando were the restricted room for the drivers’ feet and some excess engine noise when working hard.
SsangYong Korando Verdict
Car Showroom has toured the SsangYong design studios and production facility so we can vouch for the competence of Korea’s third manufacturer. Now with the financial backing of India’s giant Mahindra and Mahindra corporation, we expect to be hearing a lot from SsangYong in the next few years – new models and a clearer focus on international sales.
In that context, the Korando should be viewed as a line in the sand – the first newcomer setting the course for the company’s future.
SsangYong Korando is competent all round and comes with SsangYong’s acknowledged toughness so it won’t shy sway from rugged off-road going. And that robustness means it can handle the onslaught of family life – the bikes, the groceries, the hardware and all the other stuff we throw into our cars.
And – here’s a new one for SsangYong – it looks good too.
SsangYong Korando The Competition
Car Showroom was very impressed when we drove the Kia Sportage at its international launch in New Zealand and starting at $25,990, it’s sharply priced.
We’re also keen on the Hyundai ix35 (now with a six-speed automatic). Good looks and lots of kit make the ix35 an all-round impressive package.
China’s Great Wall doesn’t provide test cars so we haven’t evaluated the $23,990 X240.
Nissan’s Dualis and Mitsubishi’s ASX also loom as rivals – but not if you’re planning some intense off-road action.