If you’re looking at a Qashqai-like Crossover model or one of the more affordable compact, lifestyle SUVs, then you’re probably not thinking about a Ssangyong Korando. But perhaps you should be. Take the version we’re looking at here, the 2WD 2.0-litre diesel SE. For no more than around £15,000, it represents an awful lot of car for the money.
Crossover and compact SUV models are hugely popular at present and if you want one, then if you’re typical, then you probably want it with a diesel engine. In which case, you’d better get your chequebook out. The least expensive version of a diesel Crossover like Nissan’s Qashqai will cost you the best part of £19,000. The least expensive diesel version of a compact SUV like Volkswagen’s Tiguan will cost you the best part of £22,000. Which is why the car we’re looking at here, Ssangyong’s 2WD Korando 2.0-litre diesel SE, is so noteworthy. It’s price? Around £15,000.
You might not be familiar with SsangYong but it’s a Korean brand with a heritage that goes all the way back to 1950. Not all of its products have been ones that we’d recommend but this one, the Korando, really is quite impressive. And here, we’re going to explain why…
SsangYong has developed a diesel engine with 175PS for the Korando but this entry-level diesel variant gets the 149PS version of it. Mind you, this unit still has plenty about it, managing 360Nm of torque and a full two tonne towing capacity. In comparison, rival pricier 1.7-litre Kia and Hyundai models can manage just 1.3 tonnes. Quite a difference. There’s also an 80kg towbar limit. It is, in summary, the most powerful towing car in its class.
What you won’t get, in entry-level 2.0 diesel SE form anyway, is four wheel drive, Ssangyong’s Torque-On-Demand 4×4 system reserved for models further up the range. Many potential buyers won’t care: with a set of winter tyres fitted, this vehicle will be as capable as many of them will need it to be in the coldest winter snap.
And on normal dry tarmac? Well it won’t feel quite as sharp as one of the class-leading contenders in this segment, I have to say. The steering’s a little too vague and the ride a little too wallowy for that. You also have to get used to the diesel engine’s rather narrow power band, with all the torque arriving in something of a rush between 2,000 and 3,000rpm. Overall though, it’s a surprisingly competitive package.
Styling-wise, this Giugiaro-penned shape is actually quite a handsome thing, with a squat stance, beefy wheel arch bulges, an artfully sculpted front end and a sharply rising belt line. For those interested in the technicalities, this is SsangYong’s first vehicle built on a modern monocoque chassis instead of an old-school separate body-on-frame. This offers a number of benefits in terms of suspension refinement which in turn contributes to a more upmarket feel on the road.
The interior is cleanly styled, if a little generic. Hide the badge on the steering wheel and few would be able to identify quite what car they were sitting in: perhaps that’s a good thing in this case given that, come to think of it, few would be able to identify this car even with the help of the SsangYong badge on the wheel. Storage is reasonably ample with an amply-sized central cubby and decently shaped side door pockets.
You can’t argue with the amount of rear seat space on offer. This is the only car in this class (premium brand models included) able to comfortably transport three fully-sized adults on the back seat for any distance. Out back, boot space isn’t as generous as that provided by some class-leading but, at 486-litres, it’s a lot more than you get in a Nissan Qashqai and will be quite adequate for most. Plus of course as usual, you can push forward the 60:40 split-folding rear seat to extend it if necessary.
Like all Korando models, this one comes with a strong kit tally. Expect to find roof rails, tinted glass and rear parking sensors, while inside there are electric windows front and rear, a leather covered steering wheel and gear shift, air conditioning, cruise control and a Kenwood MP3 CD & RDS radio with iPod & Bluetooth, remote audio controls and six speakers. Not bad for around £15,000. Whichever Korando variant you choose, there are really only three main options: a tow bar, metallic paint and an upgraded Kenwood stereo system, with or without sat nav.
Expect to get 48.7mpg on the combined cycle from this car, together with 147g/km of CO2. That’s pretty good in comparison to rivals when you bear in mind the prodigious pulling power of this vehicle. Insurance is group 19 on the 1-50 groupings scale. And there’s the peace of mind of a five year unlimited mileage warranty.
In today’s recessional climate, all many buyers want is an affordable car, a competitive purchase plan and the peace of mind of a long warranty. You’d expect a budget brand maker to offer such a thing when it came to citycar or supermini motoring. But on a trendy diesel Crossover model? The kind of thing your neighbours are going to crane their heads over the fence to look at? Ssangyong doesn’t see why not – and that’s what sets this Korando 2.0 diesel SE variant apart.
Yes, it would be nice if it had 4WD as well – but then the fuel and CO2 returns wouldn’t be as good as they are. In any case, you still get prodigious pulling power from the lusty 149PS diesel under the bonnet and with a set of appropriate tyres fitted, you’d be pretty well set up for whatever the winter months might throw at you. Here’s a car that rewards those prepared to do a bit of market research. Just don’t tell admirers how much you paid.
Useful Ssangyong related links: Buying a Ssangyong via autotrader. Selling a Ssangyong to a dealer via dealerbid.co.uk