SSANGYONG KORANDO REVIEW
Vehicle style: Compact SUV
Price: $30,311 (plus on-road costs)
Engine: 2.0 litre turbocharged diesel DOHC inline four
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Official fuel efficiency: 6.4 l/100km
On test fuel efficiency: Not recorded
CO2 emissions: 169g/km
With segment-leading interior space and a high level of standard equipment, the all-new 2011 Korando is a game-changer for Ssangyong.
As a brand that has long suffered due to polarising styling and a lack of public awareness, our first experience of the Korando shows that Ssangyong has finally brought the right product to market.
- Quality: Although the dashboard is dominated by hard, dark plastics, the surfaces that you actually touch – the steering wheel, gear-shifter and armrests – are trimmed in either leather or soft vinyl.
We had no fitment issues with our tester, and no trim rattles either.
- Comfort: The cushions are a little firm, but there's ample head, leg and shoulder room.
Legroom is abundant in the second row, and the rear backrest also adjusts for tilt. Unfortunately there's no steering reach adjustment, only tilt.
- Equipment: The mid-spec Korando SX gets front and rear foglamps, 17-inch alloys, heated wing mirrors, roof rails, climate control, a trip computer, auto-dimming rear view mirror, Bluetooth connectivity and a six-speaker audio system with USB/aux inputs and iPod compatibility.
- Storage: The flat-floored boot is generously sized, and incorporates underfloor storage bins. All doors have integral storage bins and bottle holders, while shopping bag hooks are fitted to each front seat backrest.
ON THE ROAD
- Driveability: As long as the engine is kept above 2000rpm, there's good strong torque from the 2.0 turbo-diesel.
It revs cleanly up to the 4200rpm redline, which you'll find quickly thanks to the short first gear. Keep it in a higher gear, and the swell of torque pulls the 1727kg Korando along without raising a sweat.
- Refinement: The gearshift on our factory-fresh tester was a little notchy, but that may disappear once more kilometres are put on the odometer. That aside, the only other refinement issue was the substantial diesel clatter that comes through the firewall.
- Suspension: The suspension is surprisingly good, save for some harshness over corrugations and hard-edged bumps.
Damper settings occupy that sweet spot between firm and soft, and there's good resistance to body roll. Off road, there's lots of wheel travel to soak up bumps, and traction on gravel is impressive.
- Braking: Braking force is strong and progressive. The stability control program cuts in early and does a good job of anticipating and avoiding skidding.
- ANCAP rating: Not tested
- Safety features: Six airbags (front, front side and full-length curtain), three-point seatbelts on all seats, anti-whiplash front headrests, ABS, EBD, stability control and traction control are standard.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
- Warranty: 5 year/100,000 kilometre warranty.
- Service costs: Service intervals are set for every 15,000km/12 months, with the cost of an average basic service coming in between $150 - $160.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
- Mitsubishi ASX 1.8 diesel AWD ($31,990 plus on-roads) - The cheapest of the Korando's direct competitors, the manual-only ASX diesel comes close to matching the Ssangyong's spec list, but falls short on power, torque and interior space. (see ASX reviews)
- Kia Sportage SLi diesel AWD ($34,990 plus on-roads) - Easily the best-looking in its segment, the Sportage diesel also gets a six-speed automatic as standard and has more power and torque than the Korando. (see Sportage reviews)
- Hyundai ix35 Elite diesel AWD ($35,490 plus on-roads) - Like the Sportage (with which is shares an engine), the ix35 diesel is only available as an automatic. 2011 models get upgraded suspension hardware, but the ride is still on the firm side and interior quality is only on-par with the Ssangyong. (see ix35 reviews)
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
In terms of its suitability for a growing family, the Korando shows promise. There's lots of space for passengers and cargo, and its on-road manners are considerably more refined than any of Ssangyong's previous, quite agricultural, offerings.
Value-wise, it holds at least a 10 percent price advantage over its most logical competitors (although resale values need to be considered). If you're in the market for a compact SUV and haven't yet considered a Ssangyong, this one, the Korando, may change your mind.