By Bill McCarthy
SsangYong is not a name that readily trips off the lips. “I thought they made TVs”, said one wag. But their models, a bit like those other Koreans Hyundai and Kia of a few years ago, are beginning to make people sit up and take notice.
That’s not strictly true, people did sit up and take notice a few years ago when some of their early, weirdly designed models were spotted on the roads, but now they stand comparison, in design terms, with anything of their type on the road.
They also have ultra-competitive price tags and a market-leading seven-year, 150,000-mile warranty.
The latest Korando is a C-segment SUV and is a big car that has been around since 1983 and is now in its fourth generation.
The latest incarnation has come on leaps and bounds, with eye-catching design, a powerful, robust profile and an upmarket feel to the interior, more akin to executive models.
It also features classy, soft-touch finish and a raft of technological aids including a comprehensive list of safety equipment. Add to this huge practicality and the option of four-wheel drive and a towing capacity of two tonnes and it’s quite a package for the money.
The design features what the firm described as a birds wing grille, striking diamond cut alloys, integral roof bars, a colour-keyed bumper and rear spoiler, while rear skid plate lends the compact SUV an air of understated sportiness.
The inside of this range topper has a high-end feel with soft-touch finish to trim, leather effect heated, powered and ventilated front seats. It also features what the firm describes as a fully digital ‘BlazeCockpit’ interface and driver assistance technologies, which includes a wrap-around dashboard with a 10.25-inch full digital cluster and nine-inch AVN unit with a colour choice of 34 mood lighting options.
The car seats five comfortably, with plenty of legroom and the versatility that you would expect from a modern SUV, with a load space of up to 1248 litres space via the 60/40 split rear seats and various other stowage areas.
Standard kit includes a climate control system, heated steering wheel with tilt, rake and reach a host of electronic aids.
Engine choices will not keep you awake at night with a 1.5-litre petrol and 1.6-litre diesel available, but there are four trim levels to choose from, ELX, Ventura and Pioneer as well as the Ultimate driven here.
This model features the 1.5 GDI-turbo petrol engine which develops 163PS. That propels the car to 60 seconds in a decent 12 seconds, but economy is not that great and I struggled to get near the official 35.8mpg figure. Emissions are high as well.
While all-wheel drive is aailable, this front-wheel drive automatic version offers selectable drive modes. Normal mode is for day to day driving, sport mode delivers a more engaging drive, where the gear selector paddles can be used, and for inclement conditions, winter mode starts the car in second gear to prevent tyre slippage on icy roads.
All models feature an advanced infotainment system that includes DAB radio, Bluetooth and MP3 connectivity, while Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come with the middle and top specification models, as does a rearview reversing camera. Other features include remote power tailgate on top models and electronic parking brake on automatic variants.
The Korando is big on safety with six airbags on all models and various traction, stability and driver alert systems.
SsangYong Korando 1.5 Ultimate Auto
Mechanical: 163ps, 1,497cc, four cylinder petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed automatic gearbox
Max speed: 117mph
0-60mph: 12.0 seconds
Combined mpg: 35.8
Insurance group: 24
CO2 emissions: 180g/km
Warranty: 7yrs/150,000 miles