Ssangyong Korando long-term test review: report 1

The new Ssangyong Korando is aiming to offer unbeatable value while still excelling at the family SUV brief – we've got four months to see if it's got the ingredients to succeed...

Ssangyong Korando front

The car Ssangyong Korando 1.6D Ultimate Run by Max Edleston, junior photographer

Why it’s here The new Korando aims to take on the family SUV class leaders with improvements to its engines, suspension and interior quality. Over the next four months, we'll find out if it can do just that

Needs to be Spacious enough to carry all of my photography gear, plus any passengers, comfortable enough to travel all over the country in and connected enough to function as a mobile office

Mileage 1769 List price £31,995 Target Price £31,536 Price as tested £31,995 Options fitted None Test economy 38.2mpg Official economy 43.5mpg

25 November 2019 – Turning over a new leaf

When I tell people that my new car is a Ssangyong Korando, I usually get one of three responses. An inquisitive raise of an eyebrow from those in the know, a “what’s that?” for those who are unfamiliar with the Korean brand or, if you're my grandma, “is that a type of Range Rover?”. 

It’s fair to say that Ssangyong doesn’t have much of a reputation in Britain, but with prices that significantly undercut the competition, I wanted to see if I could save a pretty penny and still end up with a versatile and practical car that suits the lifestyle of a busy photographer.

The Korando is a family SUV designed to rival the Kia Sportage and big-selling Nissan Qashqai, and boy is it loaded in Ultimate trim. The kit list includes heated and cooled seats, keyless entry, a powered tailgate and what Ssangyong calls the 'Blaze Cockpit' digital instrument display and infotainment touchscreen. While I’m still getting to know this system, I’m finding the different menus and ways of viewing your speed, fuel and revs to be interesting, while the central display is a good size but has some menus that are proving difficult to navigate.

I’ve stuck with a diesel engine for this car, which makes sense given the number of miles I cover. I’ve also gone with an automatic gearbox, which should make any stop-start traffic easier to deal with – particularly on my frequent jaunts around the M25 and M6 motorways. One thing I’ve already noticed is that the gearbox has both Normal and Sport modes, with the latter letting the car hold onto each gear for longer before changing up. It certainly makes a change to how the Korando feels to drive and is especially useful if you need to make a quick overtake on the motorway. 

The Korando also features a Winter driving mode, which starts the car off in second gear in a bid to reduce wheelspin and to help it keep control on slippery surfaces. As what’s predicted by some red-top newspapers to be the harshest winter for 30 years sets in, I’m looking forward to putting that to the test.

Ssangyong Korando side

The oncoming winter also prompted me to opt for four-wheel drive. In order to get the scenic shots you see on this website and in What Car? magazine, we sometimes need to venture far from the beaten track, and nobody wants to be waiting for a photographer who can’t get to the shoot because he’s stuck in a field.

Initial impressions of the Korando are good. There's plenty of width and depth in the boot for all my camera equipment and the interior is a very pleasant environment to be in for long periods of time. I've found the gearbox to be good, but it occasionally makes some odd choices, running in a higher gear at high revs and making a lot of noise in the process instead of just changing up. Plus, the ride is comfortable, although I admit that I’m yet to test it on any seriously rough terrain.

The only issue I have come across is road noise. My previous SUV, a Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, was surprisingly quiet on the road, and sadly the Korando doesn’t have the same level of refinement. It’s not deafening, but I certainly have to keep the radio volume higher than before to drown out the noise.

With this latest Korando, Ssangyong has an opportunity to prove that it can stand among the best family SUVs, especially when it comes to offering value for money. As we all know, however, there's a difference between offering value and simply being a cheap imitation of the class best. Over the next four months and no doubt several thousand miles, I’ll be deciding to which camp this car belongs.

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