Korean carmaker SsangYong has this week revealed its 2011 Korando compact SUV this week in the UK. An Australian launch is slated for January.
Riding high after its purchase by India's Mahindra & Mahindra, an energised SsangYong is eager to get its new compact SUV to market.
Its styling, penned by the renowned Italdesign Giugiaro studio - famous for its work with Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and Bugatti - will undoubtedly give it a headstart among the more style-minded buyers on a budget.
SsangYong is making plenty of noise about the Korando's main powerplant too: a German-designed 2.0 litre diesel engine that uses a two-stage turbocharger and an advanced high-efficiency exhaust gas recycling intercooler to develop a respectable 129kW and 360Nm of torque.
Compare that to the brand's current European-sourced 2.0 litre diesel, producing 104kW and a significantly lower 310Nm of torque, and it's clear the new engine is a step forward by any measure.
Fuel consumption is listed at a low 6.0 l/100km (6.4 for 4WD variant), and it's clean too, with CO2 emissions listed at just 157g/km. The 0-100km/h sprint is covered in 10 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 185km/h.
Available in both 2WD and 4WD variants, the Korando will be offered with a choice of either a manual or automatic transmission, both of the six-speed variety.
The brand's most advanced model yet (and its least awkwardly-styled model to date), the Korando is also SsangYong's first model to be built with a monocoque body - a technology largely commonplace in today's automotive industry.
Suspension is managed by McPherson type struts up front, and a multi-link arrangement at the rear.
Safety features include ESP with Hydraulic Brake Assist, Hill Start Assist, Active Roll-over Protection and Emergency Stop Signal. There's also curtain airbags for front and rear passengers, along with side airbags and dual front airbags for front passengers.
Those up front also benefit from seatbelt load limiters, active head restraints and pretensioners.
Inside, the Korando features a six-way power driver's seat, along with 60:40 split folding rear seats and a folding centre armrest. Both a leather and cloth trim will be available, depending on specifications and trim grade.
Storage will prove to be one of the Korando's stronger suits, its 486 litres of rear space (back seats up) stacking up nicely against the likes of the Mazda CX-7, which offers just 400 litres.
According to Ssangyong Australia General Manager, Jeff Barber, the Korando is a strategically important model not only from a styling and quality perspective, but also because of its role in the company's new direction as an environmentally-aware specialist SUV manufacturer.
"Korando will prove to be the turning point for SsangYong and will deliver mass appeal to the marque with a package that is competitive in the rapidly expanding compact SUV market," Mr Barber said.
Australian pricing and specifications have yet to be revealed, but more details are likely to be issued as the Korando's January launch draws near.