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Car reviews - SsangYong - Korando - range

Our Opinion

We like
Great value for money, chassis refinement makes for good ride, premium cabin feel, ample legroom and entry, tough new exterior design
Room for improvement
Reversing camera and sat-nav not available yet, cabin could be more refined, dynamics could be improved, only one petrol variant

Gallery

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SsangYong logo14 Nov 2014

Price and Equipment

The Korando line-up has been reduced from five variants to two – the petrol front-wheel drive Korando S and the diesel all-wheel drive Korando SX. Keeping things even simpler, they are only available with an automatic transmission.

The Korando S, tested here, starts from $27,990 driveway, which is up $2000 compared with the previous version. The top-spec SX is also up by $2000 at $32,990 driveaway, but you get a lot more standard kit for extra dough.

Despite there being no higher specification levels to move up into, both these variants come fairly well equipped.

Standard features for the Korando S include leather appointed seats – heated up front, luggage net, privacy glass in the rear windows, rear spoiler, power folding mirrors with down-lights, rear parking sensors, roof rails, front and rear fogs lights, 17-inch alloy wheels and a full-sized spare tyre.

The Korando SX gets all of this and climate control, rain sensing wipers, automatic headlights and heated rear seats.

A reversing camera is not available in Australia at this point as it is bundled in with the navigation system, which is also not yet on offer here.

SsangYong's local distributor, Ateco Automotive, said it is working hard to “unbundle” the reversing the camera from the navigation so that it can be offered as a separate option.

Competition at this end of the compact SUV segment includes the Hyundai ix35 2WD Active from, $26,990 plus on-road costs, and the soon-to-be-replaced Nissan Dualis 2WD ST from $25,990 plus ORCs.

Interior

The new Korando is a revised version of the second-generation car, which arrived in Australia in 2011. GoAuto drove the new Korando S and the previous model back-to-back and this really highlighted the differences between the two.

Externally the differences are apparent straight away. The new Korando has a more aggressive face, which it shares with the rest of the updated SsangYong family.

The grille is smaller and defined by sharper lines, the headlights narrower and the bonnet more angular, while around the back, the tail-lights are less rounded, making for an overall tougher look.

Inside, a major makeover has taken place, starting with a sculptured soft-touch dashboard that replaces the hard plastic version from the previous model. The centre console’s new layout is modern and uncluttered and there is a new audio system and with updated air-vent styling.

The instrument cluster is clear with chrome finish surrounds, but the orange LCD centre display feels dated.

Up front the leather-appointed seats are supportive, comfortable, and a welcome move away from the cloth versions in the outgoing model. The seating position for the driver is good, although the steering wheel’s distance out from the dash can’t be adjusted.

A quirk of the SsangYong is that the indicator and wiper stalks are angled very much at a 10 and 2 position behind the steering wheel. It is a little odd and while most people will get used to it, drivers with smaller hands could, literally, find it a bit of a stretch.

The centre armrest has been carried over from the previous model and the room in the bin inside it is generous. In fact, storage space is generally good throughout the cabin.

In the back, the seating is also fairly plush, with tilting seat backs and plenty of head and legroom. Your correspondent can sit behind his own driving position with space to spare despite being 188cm tall and most of it being legs.

Looking around the cabin you can see SsangYong is pushing hard to give the Korando a premium feel and it seems to be working. For a car at the lower end of the pricing scale in its segment, the interior is a fairly cosseted place without much road noise filtering into the cabin.

Large rear doors make entry and exit easy – it’s good to see a vehicle where styling hasn’t compromised the practicality.

Luggage capacity is quite good for the size of the vehicle, with 486 litres of boot space on offer with all seats up, expanding to 1312 litres with the second row folded down.

The Hyundai ix35 offers 465/1436 litres, while the Nissan Dualis can haul 413/1513 litres.

Engine and Transmission

The Korando S is powered by a 110kW/197Nm 2.0-litre in-line four-cylinder petrol engine, which is built in-house by SsangYong in South Korea.

The petrol unit is a good powerplant that offers linear acceleration and plenty of torque. Mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, SsangYong claims a combined average fuel consumption of 7.9 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle and it sips 91 RON.

While it is far from a stump-pulling powerplant, for a front-wheel drive SUV in this class it is more than adequate and shifts the 1600kg Korando S with ease.

If you are after better towing capability, perhaps check out the 129kW/360Nm four-cylinder diesel Korando SX.

Ride and handling

Driving the outgoing Korando S and then road testing the new one highlighted how much work SsangYong has put into refining the suspension.

The previous model is a comfortable car to drive, but the ride quality of the new Korando S is impressive. We found ourselves hunting for the nastiest speed bumps we could find to punish the Korando S, but it remained composed, stable and comfy regardless.

You can’t help but think that there’s still a little bit of Mercedes-Benz know-how in there from the Daimler-SsangYong partnership years ago.

The steering is really pleasing, offering great feedback and it is direct. Why? It is a good old hydraulically assisted rack and pinion, that’s why. Sure it’s a bit agricultural, but for those who aren’t fans of artificial feeling electric steering, this is such a breath of fresh ‘old-school’ air.

Suspension up the front is MacPherson struts while the back is a multi-link set up. The brakes are decent too with 298mm ventilated discs on the front and 262mm solid discs on the rear wheels.

When it comes to handling this is not a Lotus by any means, but it shouldn’t be driven like one, either. So handling is more than adequate for regular daily duties.

Safety and Servicing

The Korando S has a good suite of safety functions including driver and passenger front airbag, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. There is ABS, electronic brake force distribution, stability and traction control, a brake assist system, hill start braking and two ISOFIX child seat anchor points as well as three regular anchorage points.

The Korando is yet to be tested by ANCAP or NCAP. This is usually because only high-volume cars are tested. So at this point we cannot give you a star rating for this car.

SsangYong offers the Korando S with a five-year/100,000km warranty. Servicing is required at 15,000/12month intervals.

Verdict

The Korando S is a practical, attractive compact SUV with impressive ride quality at an excellent price that represents great value for money. The facelifted version is a marked improvement over the outgoing model, with more standard features and refinement across the board – from the exterior styling and cabin quality and feel, to the engine and chassis.

There are further improvements to be made though. SsangYong needs to bring that rear view camera option to Australia soon. Satellite navigation is far less urgent, but it’s become more the norm and consumers are demanding it on even budget models.

The addition of the camera will also bring a larger display, ensuring the Korando stays up-to-date in the infotainment wars.

The keen price point and great value for money will definitely be a major factor for people weighing up the Korando S against the competitors and this could lead to a better foothold in the Australian market.

Rivals

Hyundai ix35 Series II Active 2WD automatic (from $29,190 plus on-roads)The ix35 from the big Korean will be hard to beat for the Korando S. The ix35 wins in the power stakes with a 122kW/205Nm direct injection petrol engine, but it is thirstier. The level of refinement overall is a step up from the SsangYong, but you’ll pay more for it.

Kia Sportage Si 2WD automatic (from $28,190 plus on-roads)Hyundai’s sibling Kia has the Sportage, which has great exterior styling and arguably better dynamics than the ix35. The Sportage also gets the 122kW/205Nm direct injection four-cylinder petrol. The cabin has a high level of refinement, but not quite up to the Hyundai’s level.

Mazda CX-5 Maxx 2WD automatic ($29,880 plus on-roads)This is what compact SUVs need to aspire to be. The CX-5 has outstanding ride and handling for a car of this type, the 114kW/200Nm 2.0-litre inline four is a great thing and with terrific fuel economy of 6.4L/100km. With on-road costs you’ll be paying north of $30K, which can be a deal breaker, but the value for money is also excellent.

Specs

Make and model: SsangYong Korando 2WD petrol S
Engine type: 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol
Layout: FWD
Power:110kW @ 6000rpm
Torque: 197Nm @ 4000rpm
Transmission: 6-speed auto
0-100km: N/A
Fuel consumption: 7.9L/100km
CO2 rating: 185g/km
Dimensions: L/W/H/WB 4410/1830/1675/2650mm
Weight: 1599kg
Suspension: MacPherson struts/multi-link rear
Steering: Hydraulic rack-and-pinion
Price: From $27,990

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