The rebirth of Korean manufacturer SsangYong has come to Ireland and with new models coming thick and fast they are certainly demanding attention. For many the SsangYong was a troubled manufacturer, which had history with dated Mercedes Benz parts and even a complete rebranding at one point to Daewoo. The manufacturer has worked with many automotive makers of which some partnerships worked and others didn’t. The Mahindra & Mahindra Limited group who are a major Indian multinational automobile company bought SsangYong in 2010. It is now we are seeing their investment and a new line of vehicles, which are streaming into Ireland.
Today I have the keys of the new Korrando which is a mini SUV that starts off at €25,995. This immediately puts it into the clutches of possible Kia Sportage and Hyundai ix35 buyers and in the Luxury trim I am testing priced at €29,750 it’s even more expensive than some of its Japanese rivals like the Mitsubishi ASX. So what do you get for your hard earned cash? Well in standard trim the spec is decent, featuring cruise control, heated mirrors, heated front seats, front fogs, air conditioning and a 6 speaker audio system to name but a few. On the safety front it has ESP with ABS, ASR and ARP, which will give piece of mind with the winter months ahead. All models have six airbags and Isofix for child seat fitment inside.
The engine is a 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel unit that produces 147hp, it’s mated to a six speed manual transmission. All Korando’s are 2-wheel drive but 4-wheel drive is available on request. My Luxury model features 17-inch alloys, rear parking sensors, leather seats, roof rails, a rear spoiler and an ECM auto dip rear mirror. It is a decent cabin made more spacious by the light grey leather. Over the week I was testing the Korando I took time out to attend the National Ploughing Championship’s. On the way to Stradbally in County Laois I found the Korando rewarding to drive on the motorway. The gear ratios are well spaced and the diesel lump is not too noisy at motorway speeds. Through the back roads on the way to the venue it was a slightly different story. Spirited driving through B roads produces hints of body roll and slightly vague steering with sharp inputs. Indeed, off-road crossing a field to park up I noticed it’s a little softly sprung for a mini SUV. Of course you don’t want a hard setup but when it’s too soft you get that slight lack of confidence on back roads. After living with the Korando for week I did enjoy my time in the SsangYong. It’s light years ahead of what SsangYong once were and thanks to that Giugiaro designed shell it looks the part in todays battle of mini SUV’s.
Personally I think purchasers will be happy with what you get for your money but dare I say if it had of been priced a little shy of its main rivals it would be leaving showrooms even faster. With emissions of 147g/km you will pay €390 for annual road tax and expect up to 49mpg from the frugal diesel, which is pretty impressive. It’s well worth a test drive but be sure to try the Bluetooth pairing and USB ports for connectivity because sadly neither worked in the model I tested.[table “145” not found /]