ROAD TEST: SsangYong Korando – a more than worthy SUV contender

You could be forgiven for thinking that it’s an SUV from a mainstream European manufacturer. It has a somewhat old school premium look and although a little ‘heavy’ on the rear styling is obviously no automotive bargain basement in the quality department.

SsangYong made its name, as all such car makers do, with bargain price vehicles, but it has a long history that goes back to the mid-1950s in its native Korea.

The range starts with the Tivoli hatchback, there’s the Korando and Rexton SUVs, plus the Musso pick-up. Prices for the range start from £20,245 for the Tivoli, the Korando SUV starts from a modest, by today’s standards, £22,190 and comes very well equipped. Cruise control, auto lights and wipers, powered folding and heated door mirrors, Bluetooth, air-con and a plethora of safety kit.

There’s also an EV version of the Korando too with a range of 211 miles. In top-line Ultimate trim, the Korando tested here (1.5-litre petrol automatic) is £30,540 and the equipment list climbs dramatically with every possible kind of toy and gadget you’ll ever need.

This includes a remote operated power tailgate, a 9-inch touchscreen, privacy glass, navigation, Bluetooth with Apple Car Play and Android Auto, leather upholstery, 8-way power-adjustable front seats, heated seats and a steering wheel and more besides.

Power comes from either 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol or 1.6-litre turbocharged diesel engine, two-wheel-drive and 6-speed manual or automatic gears. On the road, my 1.5-litre petrol proved a refined drive with smooth changes from the auto box.

Performance isn’t earth-shattering in that a smallish engine pulling a fairly hefty SUV is not a recipe for the SUV Grand Prix. Hence 60 mph takes a leisurely 12 seconds and the maximum speed is 117mph. The majority of the time the Korando doesn’t feel slow or underpowered, long hills apart when your right foot resolves the problem albeit with some audible protest.

Inside a modern, nicely laid out dash is dominated by a usefully large touchscreen and (hurrah!) buttons.  Generous seat adjustment and space ensures the occupants are well catered for and it’s a rather nice place to be with a premium feel.

There are downsides such as thinly spread dealerships, potentially larger than average depreciation and euro rivals that offer more power and a better economy. The Korando is still a genuinely good entry into the SUV arena and offers tremendous value for money, especially lower down the range. It deserves a much wider audience.

Words by Mark Slack

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