► Strong diesel engine and towing ability
► Much cheaper than similar size rivals…
► …but they’re much more appealing
Like all high-profile divorces, Brexit could be costly. But fear not budget 4x4 fans; your next car needn’t be. Step up the SsangYong Korando.
Just 17,000 of your devalued British pounds could get you the keys to a brand new 2017 Model Year Korando, which – SsangYong is keen to stress – boasts 295lb ft of torque; enough to lug 2000kg of Elddis Buccaneer Cruiser, Knaus StarClass 480 or Adria Altea 362LH Forth.
You see, no self-respecting SsangYong driver would be without one important extra; a caravan. You will have to bump up the budget to £18,500 to get four-wheel drive for maximum caravan club kudos, but that’s still much less than any similar size off-roader. And no the Dacia Duster doesn’t count, as it’s smaller and much less powerful with its 109bhp and 192lb ft proving barely enough to drag along 1500kg of chemical toilet, formica and glass-reinforced plastic.
Choose a SsangYong Korando, save £££
Showing just how underendowed the Korando is in the price department, the cheapest all-wheel-drive diesel Kia Sportage would set you back £24,995. A similarly powerful Land Rover Discovery Sport, meanwhile, would cost you £32,865 – leaving Korando buyers enough change to buy a brand new six-berth caravan.
Splash out on the top-spec 2.2d ELX 4x4 automatic we’ve driven, however, and you’ll need to set aside £23,500. Worth it? Well, you definitely get plenty of kit, with equipment thrown in that Dacia drivers can only dream about. All fitted as standard are:
- Automatic lights and wipers
- Heated windscreen
- Heated leather seats front and rear
- Heated steering wheel
- Power folding wing mirrors
- Front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera
- Touchscreen sat-nav
Strong diesel engine, sketchy handling
If the old Land Rover Freelander has become the Discovery Sport, this car is much more ‘Discovery Rutted Track’; the Korando has on-road manners that are shamed even by the Vauxhall Mokka X.
While you’d expect the Korando to be able to annihilate rough terrain off-road, scarred tarmac and bumps in the road do unsettle the Korando. One patch on our route caused the stability control warning to flicker like a strobe light for a full five seconds or so; all at perfectly legal speeds.
Though gruff, the diesel motor is muscly, with plenty of torque to punt it along briskly from low engine speeds. It’s fast enough to highlight the Korando’s shortcomings in grip and body control, with certain series of bumps leaving the suspension baffled. Compounding its on-road awkwardness is an oddly shaped wheel – narrow-rimmed at the top but with a flattened, fat profile at the bottom, making shuffling it unnecessarily clumsy.
As you’d expect of a car in this price band, it’s not the most refined, with plenty of under-bonnet clatter at higher revs. A surprise high point is the smooth automatic transmission, although it does feel lethargic in the way it slurs gears together. It adds £1500 to the bill.
Predictably low-rent interior
The Korando is a large car for the money, so it would be unreasonable to expect too much in the way of quality. There’s a noticeable drop in materials and design from something like the Kia Sportage, which has a starting price just £1795 more than the entry-level Korando.
The dashboard is fussy in design and manages to feel cheap and nasty while lacking the Land Rover Defender’s hose-down, back-to-basics feel. The Korando does have lots of kit, but feels like it’s very much built to a price; onscreen images when reversing make it look like SsangYong has strapped a pinhole camera to the tailgate, while the leather seats don’t have anything in common with any cows we’ve seen.
Flat boot floor, but outsized by rivals
Boot space for the Korando measures a usefully large 486 litres with the seats in place, rising to a mediocre 1312 litres with the rear seats dropped. That makes it a big-booted five-seater or a small-booted two-seater. Even the 10cm-shorter Duster can fit in 20% more luggage with the rear seats down.
Unusually for a 4x4 the Korando has a flat floor for rear passengers, making it a usable five seater. However, this seems to have been achieved by raising the floor as a whole, making those in the rear feel like they have their knees around their ears; adults won’t want to sit in the back for long. The rear seats can be reclined however, which helps.
The SsangYong Korando comes with a punchy diesel engine, four-wheel drive, plenty of space and costs less than many middle-of-the-road caravans. But while its price may be temptingly low, the Korando is a form of automotive masochism that forces you to settle for less than you could have had if you’d shopped elsewhere and spent a little more.
For drivers who spend a lot of time off road there’s more to like, but in typical driving scenarios the Kia Sportage is twice the car for 35% more cash.
More Ssangyong reviews by CAR magazine