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First Drive

First Drive: SsangYong Korando

The story:
Claimed to be the most important Ssangyong to launch in the next five years, the new Korando drops into the competitive crossover sector to take on some big and established players.
Key rival:Nissan Qashqai
Ssangyong Korando 1.6 Diesel 4x4 auto Ultimate
MPG:43.5 mpg
On sale:Now

This is a big one for Ssangyong, a very small player in UK terms but one with designs on growth and with an improving model line-up of 4x4s.
The new Ssangyong Korando is a mid-sized SUV that the Korean brand is aiming at the likes of the Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar, Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson.

First Drive-13th September 2019-SsangYong Korando-Image 7Coming with a choice of 136hp 1.6-litre diesel or 1.5-litre 163hp petrol engines – the latter arriving before the end of the year – the Ssangyong range takes in four trim levels including a model specifically aimed at the previous car’s caravan-towing audience, and manual or automatic gearboxes.

The only models in the country so far are the previously mentioned Pioneer trim towing special and the top-spec Ultimate diesel in 4×4 automatic form – the front-drive petrol Ultimate manual is expected to be the most popular choice when it arrives at the turn of the year, and that car costs a more reasonable £26,495, rather than the £31,995 of this top-spec auto diesel with the 4×4 powertrain that is very much in the minority among crossover buyers.
But though that price looks pretty high, it undercuts mainstream rivals when compared like-for-like. For example, a top-spec diesel automatic 4×4 Qashqai costs £34,865. And the Korando is well-equipped too, with logical specification step-ups and decent kit levels throughout including enough standard safety tech for the brand to be predicting a EuroNCAP five-star result.


First Drive-13th September 2019-SsangYong Korando-Image 4The interior generally impresses, with decent quality materials on most surfaces and comfy seats. There are cheaper plastics on the door panels and lower down in the cabin, but it all looks and feels anything but a budget option and is a big step forward for the brand. Rear legroom isn’t the Korando’s strongest suit, but headroom is good and there’s a good amount of boot space including a moveable two-part boot floor.
The diesel engine isn’t the quietest on the market, though it offers a good punch considering it’s only a 136hp unit, and the auto gearbox generally shifts without fuss, though it does hunt around between gears at lower speeds in particular. The light steering doesn’t invoke the most confidence when taking bends at higher speeds, though the chassis is capable of handling corners better than the steering feel allows the driver to believe.
The looks are understated and mainstream, with nothing to offend but consequently not the most characterful or distinctive of crossovers. Which has its merits.

Paul barker

The verdict

This top-spec 4x4 automaric diesel isn’t the heartland of the range, but despite the cost it shows how far the brand is coming, though the Korando isn’t exactly the budget option any more.