I first drove the SsangYong Korando back in 2013 when the Korean brand had just relaunched in Ireland with a new line-up of models. Now I’m testing the Korando SUV again, but since we last met, the Korando has undergone a few changes.
On the outside there have been some styling updates (principally a new nose) and the Korando does look the part of the SUV – big, chunky and imposing.
Yet this is actually quite a compact SUV so parking and manoeuvring is surprisingly easy. Inside it’s a spacious five seater and legroom is very good in the back with even the middle passenger getting a generous flat space to put their feet. The boot is large at 468 litres with a flat sill and wide opening for ease of use.
The interior is looking more modern than what I remember but it’s a mixed bag in terms of quality. Effort has definitely been made to make it more stylish (circular strip of chrome around the speakers, gloss black on the door grabs, new centre console design), but there are still a lot of hard plastics around that cheapens it a bit. The touchscreen is a welcome addition but is not standard on the base ES model.
Aesthetics aside, the relaunch of this Korando is about more power and efficiency. The old 2.0-litre diesel is replaced by a new Euro 6 compliant 2.2-litre unit. On start-up, the diesel makes itself known in the cabin and it’s a constant presence as the car is idling, stopping and starting around town or under hard acceleration. However, once at cruising speeds it fades into the background and this car’s noise suppression at speed is very impressive with very little road and wind noise coming into the cabin.
It’s a shame about the engine noise because the Korando is actually one of the nicer SUVs to drive around town. The steering is light and the Korando feels compact and agile around city streets and car parks. The driving position is properly elevated too so there is an authentic SUV feeling to it. The Korando does feel a bit slack in corners but the steering gives you enough resistance at speed to place it well on the road. It’s a largely comfortable cruiser, but jostles over rough and uneven surfaces.
The Korando goes against the grain because it favours a big 2.2-litre diesel where most front wheel drive SUV rivals have smaller diesels. The 2.2-litre diesel produces a healthy 175bhp and 400Nm of torque and there’s loads of oomph when you need it quickly.
So if you need that sort of power for towing for example (the Korando has a towing ability of up to 2 tonnes), the Korando is an affordable choice with the passenger range starting at €25,995 for a well-specced ES model that includes alloys, cruise control, front fog lights, electric windows and mirrors, air con, Bluetooth and heated front seats. EL models start at €29,995 and add even more equipment. The Korando is available as front wheel drive or four wheel drive.
However, while emissions have been improved, the running costs for the Korando are going to be a bit higher compared to less powerful rivals. CO2 emissions are reduced to 139g/km on the front wheel drive model with a manual transmission so this car falls into tax band B with annual motor tax of €280. Fuel economy has also been improved and the Korando will return up to 53mpg.
SsangYong Ireland are aiming their Korando at existing SUV buyers – people who are already sold on the idea of chunky styling and an elevated driving position but are looking for something that’s affordable but with lots of power and towing ability. The Korando is still a little rough around the edges in terms of cabin and ride quality, and the scope of the engine may be beyond the needs of most compact SUV buyers (within the range, the SsangYong Tivoli crossover might be more suitable). Korando’s pricing is reasonable considering what’s on offer but it probably makes most sense in base trim, where the list price of just under €26,000 is appealing for anyone who just needs more power in their SUV for their money.
Model Tested: SsangYong Korando EL 2.2-litre 175bhp 2WD
Price: €29,495 (Passenger range starts at €25,995)
Engine: 2.2-litre turbo diesel
0-100km/h: 9.9 seconds
CO2 Emissions: 139g/km
Motor Tax: €280 per year