First Drive: SsangYong Korando
Korando is a worthy leftfield option in the crowded Qashqai class, says Alex Grant.
SECTOR Compact SUV PRICE £19,995-£31,995 FUEL 43.5-48.7mpg CO2 From 144g/km
In a European market where one in three new cars are SUVs, SsangYong’s off-road specialism feels like a good foundation for growth, and the Korando is an important ingredient. Pitched as a high-value rival for the Qashqai or Sportage, it’s aiming for a broad customer base than its predecessor, including SME fleets.
The range launches with a 136hp 1.6-litre diesel engine, suiting the 90% of existing customers who use their car to tow, closely followed by a 163hp 1.5-litre petrol turbo and with an EV due in 2020. All include a seven-year, 150,000-mile warranty, and SsangYong has recruited dealer and head office b2b expertise while working with residual value guides to get the fleet proposition right. Its ambition is around 2,000 units per year.
Petrol versions weren’t available to test, but the diesel is willing, quiet and unobtrusive under load, and makes relaxed progress with its six-speed automatic transmission. However, there’s no manual option and 144g/km CO2 with no RDE2 certification won’t make this a particularly tax-efficient company car. Add four-wheel drive and you’ll gain diff lock and hill descent control, but lose the start-stop system.
Korando sales are typically top-weighted, and the ‘Ultimate’ trim is both generously equipped for £26,495 but also available with the widest range of engines, albeit no two-wheel drive diesel. It drives confidently, with neat handling and ride quality as firm as its closest rivals, though the 19-inch wheels make it more surface-sensitive.
Cabin aesthetics are also much improved, including digital instruments, soft plastics and an infotainment system on top-spec versions which splits the screen in two, showing navigation and audio settings side by side. A good foundation for growth, particularly once other drivetrains come on stream.