What is it?
The new SsangYong Korando, a revised version of the crossover that first appeared in 2010. The model marked a major step forward for the company because, apart from other advancements, it was the first time the firm had used a monocoque construction.
The revisions take the form of a new interior, improved refinement and an extended equipment list, all betrayed on the outside by a nip-and-tuck facelift front and rear.
In addition, the range has been simplified for the UK market. As of four months ago, the outgoing Korando has benefitted from a lower entry point of just £14,995 (for the 2.0 SE), which has been carried over here. The cheapest four-wheel-drive model is now the 2.0 SE4 at £16,495.
What's it like?
Overall, slightly improved. The most noticeable change to the front end is the new projector-type headlights and LED daytime running lights, although there are also now black grilles and air intakes of slightly different shape. There are also LED lights at the rear, but overall the impression is still of an acceptably modern-looking but rather bland vehicle in appearance.Inside, there’s a new dashboard design, which ergonomically is fine, and the cabin isn't unattractively styled, even if some of the minor detailing is a bit naïve. However, there are some very cheap, hard plastics used and precious little evidence of what SsangYong believes – internationally at least – is a ‘premium’ environment.Our test car had a large 'woodgrain effect’ strip on the dash, but it doesn’t look like anything that might have once come from a tree, and neither does the optional leather seem particularly cow-based (it’s now available in optional red or beige to complement the greater exterior colour palette). Much of the switchgear feels brittle and the sense of perceived quality is low.On the positive side, the Korando gets large storage bins, reach and rake adjustment for the steering wheel and generous equipment levels on higher-spec models. Moreover, one of the Korando’s best attributes is interior space: rear seat passengers have plentiful leg and headroom, and there’s a decent luggage area. The rear seats recline and fold flat, too.The 147bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine isn’t for these shores, which is probably a wise move, so most of the Korandos for the UK will have SsangYong’s own 2.0-litre turbodiesel in 147bhp guise, as drivien here. There is a 173bhp variant, but that’s reserved for the sluggish automatic gearbox in the UK market. In any case, it has a very narrow torque and power band, and the lower-powered engine is by far the nicer of the two to drive.Both engines develop the same 266lb ft torque peak, but the lowered-powered version develops it lower down the rev range and over a wider band.The Korando is respectably biddable in traffic despite being on the heavy side, and with a revised front subframe and new engine mounts it’s more refined in the cabin than before, which is to say that at normal operating revs it’s now just about adequate. There is, though, some driveline shunt.Dynamically, the Korando is a disappointment. The ride is reasonable on smooth surfaces but it struggles when they deteriorate and deals with them noisily. There is the expected SUV pitch and roll, exaggerated by electric power steering that has a large and over-light ‘sneeze’ factor around the straight ahead.It then weights up noticeably with more lock in an entirely false manner, with a strange lack of self-centering to make matters worse. There’s very little appeal to driving a Korando. Entry-level models are front-wheel drive, but there is the option of four-wheel drive. The latter is front-wheel drive in normal road driving, only sending torque rearwards when required.
It also features a 50/50 diff lock as standard, and SsangYong boasts of decent ramp angles and ride height clearance for those wishing to venture off-road.
Should I buy one?
With its good towing ability, a torquey motor up front and all-wheel drive at a knock-down price, it’s no surprise that SsangYong UK is courting the caravan market to carve out its own niche.
The 2.0 ELX4 offers all of the above, and lots of spec such as a heated steering wheel and heated and ventilated drivers seat, for £19,995 including a five-year unlimited-mileage warranty.
The firm wants to double its sales in the UK next year – admittedly to only 1800 units - and the revised Korando is part of that drive. Viewed objectively, however, it’s still some way from being class competitive, and this facelift does little to change that. Whether it’s the budget appeal of the Dacia Duster or the ubiquitous Nissan Qashqai, there are plenty of more attractive alternatives out there.
SsangYong Korando 2.0 ELX4
Price £19,995; 0-62mph 9.9sec; Top speed 112mph; Economy 45.6mpg; CO2 157g/km; Kerb weight 1727kg; Engine 4 cyls in line, 1998cc, turbodiesel; Power 147bhp at 3400-4000rpm; Torque 266lb ft at 1500-2800rpm
; Gearbox 6-speed manual