2019 Ssangyong Korando 1.5 GDI-Turbo review: price, specs and release date

Does a cheaper, petrol-powered version make the new Ssangyong Korando a more tempting buy?...

2020 Ssangyong Korando petrol driving

Priced from £19,995 | On sale Now

When you think of world-dominating car makers, you probably think of the German, Japanese or maybe even American brands. But although Korean manufacturers might not immediately spring to mind, they've been making waves in the British market for decades now.

Hoping to generate an additional splash is the new Ssangyong Korando, now available with a 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine to sit alongside the 1.6-litre diesel.

Now, while the diesel may suit those who do huge mileages or enjoy towing their holiday accommodation behind their car, we suspect the petrol will suit more people. That's because it's cheaper to buy and, with 161bhp, certainly not malnourished.

Ssangyong Korando front

2019 Ssangyong Korando on the road

The petrol engine is more than capable of shifting around what is a fairly hefty hunk of metal, although you'd never call it fast. Indeed, despite being more powerful on paper, the Korando never feels as strong as 1.5-litre turbo petrol versions of the Skoda Karoq and Seat Ateca. It'll get up to motorway speeds easily enough, but it takes a little longer to get there. If you want brisker performance, you'll need to work the engine jolly hard, revving it past 4000rpm.

That’s not helped by an automatic gearbox that's particularly slow to respond to your requests; put your foot down to gain speed and you’re left waiting for it to kick into a lower gear.

When it does so, it lurches forward with a jolt; this is more annoying at slower speeds or when driving around town, and the car often jerks when making low-speed manoeuvres. Sure, the Ateca and Karoq also suffer from the odd bit of auto 'box delay, but they're a lot smoother in their operation.

2019 ssangyong korando red side profile driving

Body lean is also noticeable in the Korando; it doesn't corner as enthusiastically as the Karoq, let alone the sharp-handling Ateca. At least grip levels are decent enough once you've got past a bit of wallow and the steering is accurate.

The Korando feels unsettled over patchy surfaces, transferring more to your posterior than the Karoq. We should point out that Ultimate trim's large 19in wheels won't do comfort any favours. That said, it does calm down at a motorway cruise and is nothing you’d find constantly irritating.

The Korando is good at dulling out wind and road noise, even at motorway speeds. Its petrol engine is quiet and easily fades into the background, save for when the gearbox finally kicks into life, sending revs soaring and revealing a strained and wheezy noise.

2019 ssangyong korando interior

2019 Ssangyong Korando interior

We still haven’t been able to sample any of the cheaper trims (ELX, Ventura and Pioneer), just top-of-the-range Ultimate. This features heated leather seats, adjustable lumbar support for the driver and dual-zone climate control, plus a few more luxuries.

There are still some harder plastics to be found, but a lot of soft-touch surfaces feature, with most of the dashboard being taken up by a gloss black plastic panel and chrome-coloured accents. It certainly feels more upmarket than the Ateca or Nissan Qashqai, although it can't trouble the similarly priced Volvo XC40.

Ssangyong Korando boot

A 9.0in touchscreen infotainment system is also standard on this trim, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring included, plus a 10.3in digital instrument display behind the steering wheel. The touchscreen has crisp graphics and some helpful shortcut icons surrounding it, but it's a bit laggy and doesn’t feature any physical buttons, which makes it harder to use while you're driving. 

Every Korando gets all-important automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and traffic sign recognition as part of its large suite of safety equipment. 

As for passenger space, the Korando scores well, with enough space for even taller adults to sit behind the driver, while a wide middle seat in the back makes fitting three across the bench a surprisingly comfortable experience. Boot space is equally as impressive, and there's a height-adjustable floor that can either eliminate the loading lip or act as a divider to stop your shopping from sliding around.

For more information about the space and interior of the new Korando, read our full review here >