Ssangyong Korando: Road Test

3 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Ssangyong Korando: Road Test

Ssangyong Korando: Road Test

A significant step forward for the Ssangyong brand, the Korando still has a way to go

Ssangyong Korando SPR

Price Guide (recommended price before statutory and delivery charges): $39,225

Options fitted (not included in above price): Metallic paint $450

Crash rating: TBA

Claimed fuel economy (L/100km): 7.5

CO2 emissions (g/km): 199

Ssangyong has been one of those brands more often derided than praised, in the past. And usually it cops a spray for the styling of its respective products, be they the Musso, the Stavic, the Actyon (recently facelifted for the better) — or the original Korando.

This latest Korando owes nothing to its namesake from a decade ago. It’s muscular and modern looking, but just as importantly, it seems to be technically up to the measure of compact SUV rivals from South Korea. Beyond that, in fact, since the Korando seems a car better prepared for offroad work than a few current competitors in the segment.

And its on-road behaviour is generally composed too. While the ride is firm, it’s rugged enough for the rough stuff but does ride well over smaller bumps and potholes on suburban streets. Most owners will be satisfied with the Korando’s ride comfort.

In corners the Korando is initially reluctant to turn in, but there’s more feedback through the wheel than in the case of Renault’s Koleos. driven by the writer a week earlier.

Off the road, the Korando lacks the Renault’s Hill Descent Control, but is capable in other respects. Wheel articulation is similar, lifting a wheel while turning left off a steep grade. Traction doesn’t meet the same standard as the Renault’s, with the Korando spinning wheels and struggling a little harder, even with the centre diff locked. This seemed to be down to the difference in tyres fitted to the two vehicles.

Those fitted to the Ssangyong were quiet on country roads and provided a tactile medium between the road and the driver, but the Renault’s seemed grippier on dirt.

While the Koleos was happy to just putter up the slope, the Korando needed a bit more prompting from the right foot. There was no shortage of puff from the Ssangyong’s 2.0-litre turbodiesel when given some stick — and once on the move — but it was noisier than most Euro diesels. The turbo tended to lag and the fuel consumption meant the Korando was not especially frugal.

From outside, the car idling emitted the distinctive diesel rattle that most other manufacturers, particularly those from Europe, have largely eliminated. The engine was also the preeminent source of noise at highway speeds; it was not unduly loud — just not in the top tier of diesel-engined compact SUVs for NVH (noise, vibration and harshness).

The traffic lights changing to green frequently needed to be anticipated just to keep up with the traffic. And for a vehicle that supposedly returns a fuel consumption figure as good as 9.6L/100km in urban driving, the best achieved during our week with the car, according to the trip computer, was 8.9L/100km — with at least 120km of freeway driving and 40km of gentle country driving during the week. It certainly wasn’t flogged, even off the open road.

Mostly the Korando was hard pressed to get below 11.3L/100km over a mix of roads and traffic conditions. Contributing to the car’s relatively limited range was its small fuel tank, measuring just 57 litres. Granted the Korando isn’t likely to be the vehicle of choice to carry the family 1000km between pit stops on the great Aussie holiday, but its range is a let-down nonetheless.

An Australian company, DSI, provides the six-speed automatic fitted to this particular Korando. DSI was once better known as BTR and before that, Borg Warner. The six-speeder is a competent unit that shifts smoothly, but is a little slower manually shifting than ZF’s six-speed box, to use one example.

Under heavy braking, the Korando’s warning lights will commence flashing repeatedly. Unlike similar systems in other vehicles, they have to be switched off manually by pressing the button on the dash, once the emergency or other reason for braking hard is past.

Inside the Korando, the durable trim materials seem designed for kids, textas and fast foods. Nothing fell off during the week and the car seemed pretty solid, but the wiper and indicator stalks felt like stalks of the limp celery kind. And the one-touch lane-change facility for the indicators required a wider range of movement than similar systems from other car makers.

The centrally located LCD that displayed information such as engine temp, fuel level and trip computer readouts seemed busy to look at, but drivers will quickly adjust to the way the information is presented. The speedo and tacho either side were easy to read and the controls generally followed standard design conventions.

In our experience, the audio system wouldn’t pair with either an iPhone or an iPod Nano. The FM reception occasionally faded in and out also. It was the vehicle’s connectivity and infotainment features that were the most disappointing.

This is a car that is as close as Ssangyong has come to developing a credible urban SUV, so it’s the car’s compatibility with Bluetooth and USB-connected external music sources by which it may be judged most harshly.

But getting away from the gadgets, the Korando’s ergonomics were otherwise laudable. Seats were comfortably firm for support, but quite enveloping. There were adult levels of headroom and legroom in the rear and plenty of wiggle room for the toes under the front seats.

Access was easy too, although the H-point almost makes stepping up into the Korando hard enough for adults, let alone kids.

While the air conditioning was quite efficient during 30-degree days, there were no eyeball vents in the rear. Like the step into the rear seat, the boot’s loading floor was reasonably high off the ground and some might find it difficult to load heavier items. The lift-out floor over the spare tyre (which is the same alloy wheel and low-profile tyre combination as the other four), was solid and durable, but not too heavy to remove from the vehicle altogether.

By the end of the seven days spent with the Korando, we came away impressed with its chunky good looks, its generally well-considered packaging and the real mix of on and offroad ability. There are elements of its design and manufacturing that leave it flawed, but for its price, we could bring ourselves to forgive those vices.

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Published. Thursday, 29 March 2012

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