What is it?
The SsangYong Korando crossover’s rural cousin. The Korando Sports may share its name and 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine with its smaller stablemate, but its pickup body (available with optional £1750 fixed hard-top as tested here) sits on top of a separate chassis, and comes with switchable four-wheel drive and a low-range gearbox for proper mud-plugging ability.
Unlike most of its competitors, the Korando Sports gets a coil-sprung rear suspension arrangement, chosen for improved on-road dynamics and ride comfort. It is available with a choice of six-speed manual or automatic gearboxes. Starting at £18,295, the Korando Sports is around 20 per cent cheaper than its established pickup rivals, model for model.
What is it like?
Surprisingly well equipped, given its sticker price. Our mid-range EX model was equipped with heated, electrically adjustable leather seats, air conditioning, rear parking sensors and 18-inch alloy wheels. Additional equipment included the load-bay cover which, being styled and colour-matched to the rest of the car, doesn’t feel like an afterthought, and a Kenwood touchscreen infotainment system which is loaded with functionality including sat-nav and mp3 compatibility, although it is fiddly to use.
One of the few obvious victims of the Korando Sport’s low price is the dashboard, which sports a generic, unimaginative design and is swathed in scratchy plastics. Fit and finish, however, is more than acceptable, with hardly a squeek or rattle emitted. The switchgear, too, feels built to last the course.
Passenger space is generous, with even those sat in the rear cabin afforded generous shoulder and headroom. Legroom, however, is merely adequate in the front and somewhat pinched in the rear, although there is enough for passengers to remain comfortable on all but the longest journeys.
The 2.0-litre diesel engine is SsangYong’s own and has been retuned to develop more torque lower in the rev range compared to the rather peaky Korando crossover. With 153bhp and 265lb ft, it is enough to tow a braked trailer of 2300kg and get the brick-shaped pickup to a top speed of 107mph. The effect of that low-down pulling power is hampered somewhat by awkwardly spaced gearing. A short first gear – a sign of the Korando’s off-road intent – necessitates a quick change into second, where the engine is left wheezing beneath its torque band.
Steering is lifeless and the rack is very slow geared. While this is fine for off-road use, those who spend most of their time on Tarmac may tire of the constant arm waving in tighter corners or during manoeuvres.
SsangYong has made much of the Korando Sport’s rear coil springs, and while it rides remarkably well – albeit with a slightly bouncy quality when unladen – it has harmed the car’s load carrying capability. A maximum weight of 643kg is around half the class standard. The load space itself is well sized, however, and is able to accept a standard Euro-pallett. It also comes fitted with a durable plastic liner as standard.
Should I buy one?
The Korando Sports is a big leap forward from the ancient Musso which it replaces, and while it wears its low price tag like a badge of honour, it no longer has a whiff of skint desperation about it. However, in attempting to create a light commercial vehicle that appeals to urban SUV users, the Korando Sports falls short of pickup class standards in terms of load and towing capacity, and while ride comfort and refinement are wholly acceptable for this type of car, conventional SUV drivers will still expect more.
Despite these shortcomings, and the rather lacklustre interior, the Korando Sports represents excellent value for what is ultimately a well equipped and practical pickup. That it comes with the peace of mind of a five-year, unlimited mileage warranty adds a certain no-nonsense thrust to the appeal as well.
Ssangyong Korando Sports EX
Price £19,995; 0-62mph n/a; Top speed 107mph; Economy 37.7mpg (combined); CO2 199g/km; Kerb weight 2097kg; Engine 4 cyls in line, 1998cc, turbo, diesel; Power 153bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 265lb ft at 1500-2800rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual