Out of its depth
SsangYong’s SUV lacks the polish of its rivals, writes Paul Pottinger TheKorando will be hard-pressed tomakea splash
WHEN we asked colleagues what was made by the SsangYong company, their responses varied from TVs and stereos to fridges and sewing machines. SsangYong’s compact SUV, the Korando, has been re-animated after two years in a GFCinduced coma, but it has the formidable task of tackling a savagely competitive segment as it tries to build its brand name.
Though still managed by South Koreans, SsangYong is owned by India’s Mahindra.
The Korando is designed by Italian legend Giorgetto Giugiaro and uses a German-sourced diesel that will eventually run through an Australian six-speed automatic.
Korando may be a contraction of ‘‘Korea can do’’, but it’s as though the UN has come to its aid. In this segment, against established rivals, especially those from its own country, it will need all the help it can get.
TRY $26,311 for the entry-level S manual with front-wheel drive and an introductory driveaway price of $27,990. It’s a startling price point for a diesel SUV.
The auto model, apparently trundling down the assembly line as you read this, is $28,811.
All-wheel drive comes with the SX at $30,311, with $2500 extra for the untried auto.
At $36,811, the leather-lined topline SPR is auto and AWD only. Equipment at all levels look good, though satellite navigation and a reversing camera are not to be had at any money. The warranty is a South Korean and Mitsubishi-equalling five years but, bizarrely, SsangYong is unable to say what kilometres apply. That’s being worked out. The five-year thing, they say, was an apparently spontaneous offer of goodwill from head office.
NOTHING startling, though the ability to stream your iPod through Bluetooth is cute.
SsangYong ‘‘lives diesel’’, at least until a petrol variant comes online next year. Until then, the Korando’s sole powertrain is a Euro 5-compliant, common rail variable geometry turbo unit that it brings to the game far more cheaply than Hyundai or Kia, which run weedy petrol fours at this price point.
But with at least 80 per cent of potential buyers opposed to changing gears for themselves, it needs that auto rather desperately, which makes the decision not to wait two months and launch with one puzzling.
All-wheel drives have a torque sensor that shovels 50 per cent of the grunt to the rear axle
Over a combination of freeway, B-roads and dirt, the Korando SX is competent by the standards of the compact SUV pack
when it feels the need. There’s a diff lock for constant all paw under 40km/h.
NOT an Alfa Romeo, though designed by the maestro responsible for some of the best of them, the Korando is at least a massive visual departure from the rest of the brand’s anonymous and even unsightly models.
Up front there’s the inevitable low-placed mesh grille and whopping wraparound lights, and a general stance that is going to be described as ‘‘sporty’’.
Nice wheels, too, with alloys throughout the range. Sixteens for the S, 17s on the SX and 18s on the SPR.
Inside, the cabin feels less than the sum of its parts. Yes, all the bits and bobs are there, there’s a stack of useable but discreet storage spaces