An Indian-owned carmaker has a new model for Australia, writes Neil Dowling
DISSOLVED marriages and affairs that end in tears aren’t Mills & Boon text but the emotional roller-coaster of Ssangyong. But now, with a new owner and the expectation of a fresh Korando SUV priced from under $27,000 for Australia in January, things could at last be looking up.
The Korando, launched this month in Britain, is a new start for Ssangyong. It is the first time it has made a monocoque vehicle— all predecessors were built on a ladder chassis — and is the pointer to new SUVs and even passenger cars.
The five-seater wagon will also come as an optional price-cutting 2WD that could start at about $28,000.
Ssangyong Australia spokesman Paul Hare is predicting a strong future for the brand after it was bought this month by Indian conglomerate Mahindra. ‘‘There are replacements for some SUVs and we’re talking about passenger cars as well,’’ he says.
Ssangyong terms its new Korando — which was previously known inhouse as the C200 — a crossover vehicle, marking a departure from its rugged 4WD products of the past.
It is styled by Giorgetto Giugiaro and even the 2-litre turbo-diesel engine, with an electronically variable-geometry turbocharger, was designed in Europe.
The engine is rated at 129kW at 4000rpm and 360Nm of torque at 2000rpm, averages 6 litres/100km and 157 grams per kilometre CO2 to meet Euro-5 emission standards. In Australia the Korando will get the choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive and six-speed manual or automatic transmissions.
Hare says the Korando will come with a full suite of the latest safety equipment including ESC that integrates active rollover protection. It also gets four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, electronic brake force distribution, brake assist system, traction control and hill-start assist. Standard gear will be six airbags, electronic active head restraint for the front seats and multi-load path body construction to distribute collision energy.
Final specifications for Australia are expected to be top-shelf. They will include a choice of leather or cloth trim, premium audio and convenience features, electric adjustment for the driver’s seat and a 60:40 split fold rear seat with a folding centre armrest.
Ssangyong says the boot space is bigger than most of its compact SUV rivals.
The company is expected to follow the Korando during 2011 with a bigger SUV to compete with the Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento.
This wagon, which replaces the Rexton and may resurrect the Musso name, is expected to use a ladder-frame construction and is likely to become available as a 2WD or 4WD. It is believed to use a bigger 2.2-litre version of the Korando’s turbo-diesel engine. A petrol engine may also be offered.
On track: the Korando SUV spearheads a reborn Ssangyong’s new push.