What is it?
It’s not obvious from the impressively generic exterior, but this is the new Ssangyong Korando. This is the first monocoque vehicle that the Korean company has ever produced and represents the first steps in a re-launch that is intended to make the brand more competitive against major budget European makers.
A 173bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel motor, developed by the company independently, is the only motor available in the Korando. A six-speed auto and all-wheel drive is on offer, but we’re testing the entry-level two-wheel drive model.
What’s it like?
Rather bland in many respects, which for many will be an improvement on the rather eccentric previous models. When not under load the Korando is impressively refined by class standards, but otherwise the motor fails to meet modern diesel standards in terms of its usability.
Power delivery is very peaky – significantly more so than is now usual in modern turbodiesels - with all of the 266lb ft of torque arriving between 2000-3000rpm. The effect of this is amplified by awkwardly spaced gear ratios. Second is very short, but changing up into third leaves the engine floundering beneath its limited power range.
So powertrain is not something that Ssangyong can yet claim to have reached current European standards in, but ride quality is well judged – a little bouncy occasionally but nothing you wouldn’t expect of a softly sprung compact SUV, and body roll is also kept in check.
Steering is entirely sterile and has a disconcerting elasticity around the dead-ahead, but it is linear enough in response. Passenger space is also very competitive, particularly for those in the back, though luggage capacity of 486 litres is some way behind class best.
Should I buy one?
By any standards the Korando is a significant step forward for its maker, but if it is to be priced similarly to the Hyundai ix35 and Kia Sportage, as Ssangyong suggests it will be, it is impossible to recommend.
The Korando is not a bad car in isolation, just one that feels as if it has just reached the levels achieved by most of the obvious rivals one generation ago.
So Ssangyong’s competition need not need worry too much right now, but if the company can make the same level of progress with its next generation then there is every possibility it – and the Korando - could become a serious contender.
Ssangyong Korando 2.0d 2WD
Price: £17,500 (est); Top speed: 111mph; 0-62mph: 10.0sec; Economy: 47mpg; Co2: 157g/km; Kerb weight: 1591kg; Engine, type, cc: 4cyl, 1998cc, turbodiesel; Power: 173bhp at 4000rpm; Torque: 266lb ft at 2000-3000rpm; Gearbox: 6spd manual; Boot capacity: 486 litres