What is it?
Genuine value has been hard to find in the market for electric cars, but it’s coming. Manufacturers have insisted that battery technology is expensive, production volumes are prohibitive and so profit margins are wafer-thin – but, gradually, all that’s changing. MG Motor has already been showing growing numbers of British buyers how affordable electric cars can be. Soon enough, Ssangyong will be doing exactly the same thing.
The Korean SUV-specialist brand (its name translates as ‘double dragon’, which might only make it cooler to one-time owners of a Sega Master System, but it worked on me) has recently been bought out of bankruptcy by a consortium of private-equity investors. With plans to have a four-strong range of electric models, from crossovers and proper off-roaders to pick-up trucks, on the UK market within three years, it is all set to introduce its first European-market EV this spring: the Ssangyong Korando e-Motion.
This Korando will enter the same segment inhabited by the Skoda Enyaq iV, the Kia e-Niro and the new Nissan Ariya. But this medium-sized family crossover will be priced from £30,495 after the UK government’s buyer’s stipend, which should be between 10% and 30% less than you’ll pay for any of those alternatives, with many of this car’s competitors now too pricey to qualify for a grant at any model grade.
What's it like?
The electric Korando uses the same vehicle platform as the combustion-engined car, but it isn’t a particularly low-ball, bargain-basement technical offering in other respects. It has a drive battery worth a nominal 61.5kWh, which is a good deal bigger than you’ll find on similarly priced crossover EVs; and, despite its size and weight, it has a very respectable WLTP-certified electric range of 211 miles. Performance is strong too, with a 188bhp drive motor powering the front axle.
Rapid charging potential at up to 100kW is competitive for the money, also, while equipment level are surprisingly bountiful. Entry-grade ELX-trim cars get digital instruments, a touchscreen infotainment system with smartphone mirroring, intelligent adaptive cruise control and a full array of active safety and driver assistance systems for no extra cost – for £30,495, remember. A mid-level Ventura model like our test car (which was erroneously badged ‘Ultimate’) adds LED headlights, heated front seats, a TomTom navigation system and some other items, but it’ll cost you £35k.
It doesn’t take long to appreciate where this car offers what you might expect for the money, and where it doesn’t. Like every manufacturer boldly going electric for the first time, Ssangyong has picked a slightly wide-eyed, attention-grabbing styling theme for the e-Motion version - and its bold colours just don’t sit comfortably on the Korando’s self-consciously blocky body. The car’s newly sealed front grille only adds to the weirdness, and its standard-fit 17in alloy wheels look downright cheap. Avoiding bright white paintwork might soften the car’s visual aberrance, but I’m not sure it could banish it entirely.