The Ssangyong Korando Sports is the latest sign that the rebooted and revitalised brand is on a roll.
The Korando SUV has already been well received, so now Ssangyong is going after a combination of the working and leisure markets with this new pick-up.
What's the 2012 Ssangyong Korando Sports like to drive?
It's a bit of a mixed bag, with some good points, and some not so good ones.
The 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine is definitely a plus. It develops 153bhp and 266lb ft of pulling power, and does decent work from just 1400rpm.
It also revs smoothly when you need to work it hard, and performance is perfectly acceptable. The Korando Sports will accelerate reasonably eagerly and will cruise at the motorway limit quite happily.
Wind noise is definitely present, but it isn't too loud.
One of the cars we drove had optional wind deflectors around the door frames. Whatever you do, avoid these. They merely generate extra wind noise and make the windscreen pillars more difficult to see around.
The standard six-speed manual gearbox is light and accurate, if a touch rubbery in feel.
We also drove a Korando Sports fitted with a six-speed automatic gearbox. This changes gear smoothly, but does like a moment or two to ponder matters before deciding whether or not to actually make the shift.
The auto also makes the engine rev more than expected when you just squeeze the accelerator, as you would when encountering a slight incline. The manual is the better option.
Ssangyong is keen to point out that the Korando Sports has much more sophisticated suspension than most pick-up rivals, in a bid to make it outdrive them. Nonetheless, the ride on the vehicles we drove was decidedly shuddery on the bumpy roads around the launch venue.
Body control was far more impressive and, as with most pick-ups, the ride would doubtless improve when the load area is filled with bricks or, say, a motorcycle.
The steering provides the biggest disappointment, being both too light and giving you absolutely no clue whatsoever about whether the Korando Sports will actually turn-in to the next corner.
There are almost four turns from lock to lock, too, so three-point turns and parking manoeuvres are liable to make you feel like you're parking a small yacht.
The benefits of this low-geared steering will come when you take the Korando Sports off road, when it reduces the possibility of the steering wheel kicking back in your hands over big obstacles.
So, we put the transmission into four-wheel drive and tackled a fairly serious off-road adventure. On rutted tracks, the suspension easily dealt with everything, and refused to make the cabin's occupants bounce around (much).
Even on road-spec tyres the Korando Sports displayed that it could climb, descend and wade with the very best. Believe us, if you need any more off-roading ability than this, then your name is Ray Mears.
The Korando can also tow up to 2.3 tonnes
What's the 2012 Ssangyong Korando Sports like inside?
The Korando Sports will be offered only as a double cab, so can carry five people.
The two front occupants get a good deal of space, and there's enough for three medium-sized people behind; anyone larger may well struggle for legroom if the two front-seat occupants aren't willing to compromise slightly.
We drove pre-production vehicles, and the final UK spec is yet to be decided. However, as befits the Korando Sports' raison d'etre as a working/leisure vehicle, the plastics used on the dashboard were more robust than luxurious.
The leather on the top-spec cars we drove also felt like it would last the tests of both time and hard use.
Both models (EX and SX) will be pretty well equipped, with the SX getting 18-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, electric driver's seat adjustment, and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls as standard.
Should I buy one?
The Korando Sports presents a decent case for itself, even before pricing is announced. It'll do an average of 29.4mpg, can tow a hefty weight, and is well equipped.
However, the Korando Sports has one weak spot, which could affect its sales as a working vehicle. That sophisticated suspension system means it can't carry quite as much as rival pick-ups.
Ssangyong knows the car has to be aggressively priced, and promises that it will be. The car also comes with a five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty. If you can ignore the slight load-bearing shortcoming, the Korando Sports will be worth a look.
What Car? says...
Our reviews are based on hard data and thorough testing in the real world.
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