Ssangyong Korando review |

2 May 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Ssangyong Korando review |


Paul Pottinger road tests and reviews the Ssangyong Korando at its Australian launch.

Flatscreen TVs. Stereos. Fridges. Sewing machines. All responses when we asked colleagues what they thought was made by the SsangYong company.

Reanimated after two years in GFC-induced stasis, the Korando compact SUV has mountains to climb in the already formidable task of impacting upon a savagely competitive segment, but in building an entire brand name. It#39;s a brand, it must be said, even in so far as it registers at all is associated with the Stavic people mover, an apparition so ungainly that it was on introduction widely assumed to be a particularly elaborate practical joke.

Though still managed by Koreans, SsangYong is owned by India#39;s Mahindra, while the Korando is designed by Italian legend Giorgetto Giugiaro and uses a German-sourced diesel which will run (eventually) through an Australian six-speed automatic.

If Korando is supposed to be contraction of Korea can do, it#39;s as though the UN has come to its aid. In this segment, against these rivals, especially those from its own country, it#39;s going to need all the help it can get.

Try $26,311 for the entry level S manual with front wheel drive and an introductory driveaway $27,990. It#39;s a startling price point for a diesel SUV.

The auto model, apparently trundling down the assembly line even as you read this, is $28,811. All-wheel-drive comes with the SX at $30,311, with $2500 extra for the untried auto. At $36,811, the leather-lined topline SPR is auto and AWD only.

Equipment at all levels look good, though satellite navigation and a reversing camera are not to be had at any money. While the warranty is a Korean and Mitsubishi equalling five years, bizarrely SsangYong are unable to say what kilometres apply. That#39;s being worked out.

The five year thing, they say, was an apparently spontaneous offer of good will from head office. Okayyyyy .

Nothing startling, though the ability to stream your iPod through Bluetooth is cute. SsangYong lives diesel, at least until a petrol variant comes online next year. Until then the Korando#39;s sole powertrain is a state of the game, Euro 5 compliant, common rail variable geometry turbo unit that it manages to bring to the game far more cheaply than either Hyundai or Kia, which run weedy petrol fours at this price point.

But with at least 80 per cent of potential buyers opposed to changing gears for themselves, it needs that auto rather desperately, which makes the decision not to wait two months and launch with one puzzling.

All-wheel-drives have a torque sensor that shovels 50 per cent of the grunt to the rear axle when it feels the need. There#39;s a diff lock for constant all paw under 40km/h.

Not an Alfa Romeo, though penned by the maestro responsible for some of the best of them, the Korando is at least a massive visual departure from the rest of the brand#39;s anonymous and even unsightly models. Upfront there#39;s the inevitable low-placed mesh grille and whopping wraparound lights, and a general stance that, equally inevitably, is going to be described as sporty.

Nice wheels too, alloys throughout the range. Sixteens for the S, 17s on the SX and 18s on the SPR.

Within it feels less than the sum of its parts. Yes, all the bits and bobs are there, there#39;s a stack of useable but discreet storage spaces and no less than eight drink holders.

But, as my co-driver confirmed on climbing in, somehow it feels not quite of the moment. And in the mid-spec SX, you#39;re starting to wonder if this ambience is worth $30K plus auto plus on roads.

Leg and headroom in the back are excellent, but it#39;s a bit narrow. We two kept brushing elbows. The seats slightly overlap the centre console.

It#39;s hard to get your hand between the seat and door to the adjustment knob. The seats themselves lack under thigh support and the steering wheel has no reach.

Yet to be crash tested, SsangYong hope rather than expect five stars. Four is certain. Again, the parts are all there, but not the finish. The electronic stability program has an anti-rollover sensor for rough terrain running.

Anti-skid brakes come with assist and force distribution. There#39;s six airbags and a full-size spare, even for the SPR.

Over a combination of freeway, tasty B-roads and dirt, the Korando SX is competent by the standards of the compact SUV pack. The diesel is acceptably refined and predictably punchy in the mid-range, but there#39;s a gaping torque hole under 2000rpm. Several times on a winding uphill run, I had to force the shortish throw gearstick into first.

The auto might mask that.

Turn in is not the sharpest and the inclination is always to run wide. The ride verged on the terse by the cosseting standards of this class. As in most of its other aspects, driving the Korando enforced the impression that, should you take the plunge, you#39;re best bet is to buy bottom end, taking advantage of that entry price and adjusting your expectations accordingly.

VERDICT: Overwhelmingly adequate

SsangYong Korando

Price . $26,311 to $ 36,811 plus costs

Engine . 2.0L, 4-cylinder turbo diesel; 129kW/360Nm

Transmission . 6-speed manual and automatic

Thirst . 6.1L/100km (2WD manual) 7.3 (2WD auto); 6.4L/100km (AWD man); 7.5 (AWD auto)

RIVALS: Honda CR-V (from $30,990); Hyundai ix35 (from $26,990); Kia Sportage (from $25,990); Mazda CX-7 (from $33,990); Mitsubishi ASX (from $25,990); Mitsubishi Outlander (from $28,990); Nissan Dualis (from $24,990); Suzuki Grand Vitara (from $25,990); Toyota Rav4 (from $28,990); Volkswagen Tiguan (from $33,990)

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