I remember my first sighting of a SsangYong. Of course, I had difficulty getting my tongue around its nom de plume, the venue of the Geneva Motor Show in 1994 quite a motoring distance now in my mirrors. Like everything since, much has changed, not least now as we enter 2020, SsangYong is under new ownership, with the Mahindra company now steering its global path.
Domestically there have also been changes, with SsangYong Automotive Ireland Limited, (SAIL), now under the ownership of the Maltese company Famalco Group, with new Country Manager, John McKenna at the helm of this Korean brand with real momentum behind it.
What better way to reintroduce SsangYong to Irish and international customers than by using a name that sits proudly in the Guinness Book of Records as being the oldest model name in global motoring.
Korando – ‘Korea-can-do’ – faces into 2020 with the confidence of its years, this mid-size crossover entering one of the fiercest segments across every European market, that confidence, while necessary, requiring additional talents to survive.
Good looking, well put together, up-to-date tech, roomy, very decent road company and initially a choice of two internal combustion engines, put the new Korando right in the mix of this very competitive buying segment. Here, the Korando is not out of its depth, has no reason to feel inadequate and delivers to a high level in all the key aspects of car purchase.
Great to see SsangYong back and with this Korando as its opening statement, the future is certainly worthy of buying a ticket for. SsangYong’s new Korando is more than a statement of intent. It is here in one of the fiercest segments of the Irish motor market, it walks its own walk and is of a quality that many will give it a new home in 2020. Welcome back SsangYong, the horizon awaits.
Format: 5-door Crossover
Drive: Front-wheel drive: (Also available in 4x4)
Trim grades: ES, EL & ELX
Engine: 1.5 litre Turbo-Petrol: (Diesel: 1.6TDi)
Power: 160bhp (Diesel 134bhp)
Torque: 280Nm (Diesel 324Nm)
Transmission: 6-Speed manual (optional 6-speed Auto)
CO2: 154g/km: (Diesel 130g/km)
Tax Band: C (Diesel B1)
Annual Road Tax: €390 (Diesel €270)
Introductory Price: €24,495; Diesel €26,495
Towing capacity: 1.5 tonnes for two-wheel drive: 2 tonnes for diesel automatic
Luggage capacity: 551 litres, expanding to 1,248 litres with the rear ones folded.
Some of the Competition
Nissan Qashqai, KIA Sportage, Hyundai Tucson, Ford Kuga, Peugeot 3008, Toyota RAV4, Renault Kadjar, Skoda Karoq, Dacia Duster
No question, the new 2020 Korando looks smart, even on my first viewing in the Madrid underground carpark at its European launch. Now on Irish soil and my opinion is confirmed – the Korando is not going to hide in any social gathering.
With the vast majority of new vehicles sold in Ireland now elevated above the normal saloon/hatchback, the arrival of the Korando is going to add oil to the fire that is already ablaze.
When the goal is to provide high-rise access and internal space, the designers of all SUV/crossovers invariably deliver a squarish shape and some clever use of metal and glass to please the eye – the motoring equivalent of breaking eggs to make omelettes.
The 2020 Korando works on first sighting, the front-end treatment of headlights, grill and lower air-dam taking the eye on an easy tour. I like the bonnet crease where it journeys to underneath the mirrors, to the rear, where the quarter panel meets the roof at an angle that allows the rear windscreen to wrap itself into it.
The rear is nicely proportioned, with all looking as if serious thought was give, the stepped chrome strip adding a nice touch horizontally from below each tail light.
Get into any new vehicle and the expectations are invariably akin to walking into a tech store. Of course, we are looking for a welcoming ambience, the first point of contact being the steering wheel, thereafter the seat, the view directly ahead, a sideways glace to the centre console, the location of the gearshift, (noting the residence of reverse), the handbrake, a glance in the rear-view mirror plus those of the doors and a very quick opinion is formed – I like this place or varying degrees of non-committal.
Yep, the manufacturers must get that first introduction as a positive. SsangYong’s reintroduction of the Korando has to tick the boxes, with little room for second chance in this savage segment that has no time for sentiment.
Given that most motoring journalists here get into some two-hundred new cars per year, it takes little time to check out the ergonomics, fit and finish, material quality and internal welcome of any new incumbent.
The folk behind Korando have certainly done their homework. It is difficult to fault and offers all that the modern motorist expects of their mobile living room. The trim grade tested by me was the ELX, both it and the El coming with a centre touchscreen, the intro model doing without. All is clear n the instrumentation front, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto seamlessly accepting your mobile device. The Korando hosts a plethora of comfort, convenience and safety features, again in keeping with its intent on market penetration.
There is room for five within, myself and fellow substantial motoring colleague finding oodles of space up front in width, headroom and length of leg, all without requiring those at the rear to sit side-saddle. All in all, the SsangYong has done its due diligence and produced a crossover that many would delight in having in their driveway.
Korando Safety features:
· Five Star NCAP Rating
· Seven airbags including driver’s knee airbag
· Advanced Driver Assistance & Safety System (ADAS)
· Advanced Emergency Braking System (AEBS) with camera and radar
· Lane Keep Assist
· Front Vehicle Start Alert
· High Beam Assist
· Safety Distance Alert
· Driver Attention Alert
· Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control
· Blind Spot Detection, Lane Keep Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert with automatic brake activation
On the road
Given our aforementioned love of high-rise motoring, the price paid is invariably apparent in the on-road dynamics. It is nigh on impossible to get a crossover/SUV to deliver the seat-of-the-pants drive experience of a well-sorted saloon/hatchback. This is not to criticise, merely to point out that we should not ask for steak in a Chinese restaurant.
My point is that we should drive our crossovers as their size and shape dictate, the result is better for everyone, especially your passengers. The Korando is thankfully not too softly suspended and only if asked to rapidly change direction will it pitch and object.
For the most part, in everyday commuting through the urban twist and turn, the Korando is well capable, steering and brakes offering all that’s required for a secure drive.
Out of the urban crawl and the 1.5 litre turbo-petrol is enthusiastic, without being manic, the manual gear change is precise, the ratios worked well to my demand and over all I can see where more buyers will opt for this above the 1.6 litre diesel.
My short run in the diesel proved it to be very capable, its additional torque allowing for less gear changes, albeit, should you need reminding, that diesels work better when they are worked, asked to put up in excess of thirty-thousand kilometres per year and not short hops to the local garden centre.
Those with the need for extra pull can opt for the diesel automatic 4x4, with a towing capacity of two tonnes.
This new Korando deserves a place on your drive test list, said list has potential to include many members of this feisty segment. Entering from quite a distance back, the Korando has a legitimate claim for that vacant spot in your driveway, which is impressive in itself. Test drive the car and be impressed some more.