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Full-sized electric crossover is bit unsophisticated and unappealing, but well equipped and practical

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.

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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.

On the inside, things look up. Passenger space is generous enough to make this a car fit to carry four full-sized adults or a growing family of five quite comfortably, and boot space is a very fulsome 551 litres. The cabin is fitted out with a lot of pretty cheap glossy plastics, but they’re certainly not entirely plain or universally unappealing. The controls are laid out sensibly and intuitively, the instruments are clear enough and seat comfort is good.

The Korando e-Motion drives competently, with the low cabin noise level, accessible instant torque and ease of operation you’d hope for in an EV - although it’s more rough-hewn in some dynamic respects. The car’s Nexen economy tyres don’t have a particularly assured grip level, but its electronic traction and stability controls keep close tabs on drive forces to maintain secure drivability. You only unearth any power understeer or torque steer with the systems switched off - and, having done so, you switch them back on again pretty promptly.

Steering is weighty and medium-paced; like the slightly dulled throttle response, it makes a big car drive coherently, at least. Body control comes over all old-school off-roader when cornering, though, and ride comfort feels a bit crude when the road turns bumpy.

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Should I buy one?

The Korando’s ride and handling are far from good, then - but equally far from offensively bad, if you can content yourself with the car’s big-picture selling points.

For its size and practicality, the genuine 200-mile range (which we verified in mixed use, and at a pretty chilly ambient temperature at that), its handsome (actually, let’s call it generous) equipment level, its strong seven-year warranty and the fact that all of that comes for a price you can compare favourably with a lot of petrol-powered SUV rivals, the Korando e-Motion is worth its place in Ssangyong’s UK offering. There are markedly better-driving and more desirable full-size crossover SUVs than this, of course - but they've all got much steeper price tags to match.

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Gerhard 3 February 2022

This is just the sort of car the U.K. is going to need come 2029... the domestic supply is minimal and continental cars are very expensive. 

xxxx 2 February 2022

Are those plastic wheel trims? Work a tiny bit harder or longer and get a Kia

ianp55 1 February 2022

This is serious value for money and with a decent range so what's not to like? if the top of the range Ultimate is as well equiped as it's petrol equivalent it'll be pretty plush and probably be worth the extra £2k or so over the Ventura trim. I did drive the previous generation Korando and while not the most exciting vehicle to drive it was comfortable and seemed very well screwed together. It'll be interesting to see which will be the next Ssangyong EV will be if it's the Tivoli and it starts from say £24k that'd be quite an a reasonable proposition