March 25, 2019

Can-do Korando

To be perfectly honest, we didn’t approach the launch of the SsangYong Korando Sports pick-up last year with that much enthusiasm. Recent exposure to a certain low-cost Chinese pick-up had dimmed the desire for Far Eastern newcomers.

However we came away from that first drive considerably more upbeat. The Korando wasn’t just okay, it was really pretty good, both off-road and on the short road route that we were able to complete.

We were therefore keen to put some real miles under the wheels in everyday use, and managed to complete more than 800 miles in our week with the SsangYong, including a round trip from Suffolk to County Durham that included everything from frozen roads to rapidly settling snow.

For those who may have missed the Korando Sports introduction last year, this is a double-cab only pick-up that puts ride and driver comfort ahead of ultimate carrying capability. Rather than using the leaf springs of most pick-ups at the rear, the Korando comes with a multi-link rear suspension set-up with coil springs, much like a car.

This results in an impressively smooth ride and relatively secure handling on the road, without sacrificing too much axle articulation on the rough. The downside however is the truck’s payload, which is just 643kg in a manual or 630kg in our EX auto model.

While we suspect that few double-cab customers will be that bothered about the lack of ultimate carrying capacity, being able to haul less than a tonne does mean that the taxman will view the Korando as a car, so there will be no reclaiming of commercial vehicle VAT for the SsangYong.

However, SsangYong is hoping that with prices ranging from £18,295-22,745 including VAT, customers will see past the tax issue. Certainly at £21,245 our EX auto boasts a comprehensive specification, with standard heated leather seats, 18” alloys, air-conditioning, electric driver’s seat, rear parking sensors, cruise control and a leather-clad steering wheel and gearlever.

You also get multiple airbags, ESP, Hill Start Assist, door courtesy lamps and steering wheel mounted audio controls as part of the standard kit. On top of that SsangYong had equipped our test vehicle with a moulded rear canopy (£1,750) that locks within the tailgate for full security, a Kenwood touch-screen sat-nav (£999) with Bluetooth and iPod connectivity, a fixed towbar with seven-pin electrics (£460) and metallic paint (£500).

The Korando has a 2.0 litre diesel engine delivering 155hp and 360Nm of torque. This drives through a very smooth six-speed automatic transmission to the rear wheels in normal use. A small rotary dial on the centre console engages four wheel drive and low ratio if required.

The auto box has a manual function, with up and down thumb switches on the steering wheel allowing the driver to get involved. As is so often the case though, unless specifying a particular gear for off-road use, it’s better to leave the transmission to its own devices.

As mentioned we ended up having to drive through some serious snow in the North East. The transmission has a winter setting that sees the truck pull away in second and change up earlier to prevent excessive wheelspin. The big SsangYong felt very secure on the A1M as other struggled for purchase in treacherous conditions.

With a clearer road and warmer temperatures, the SsangYong continued to impress, providing that promised smooth ride without much of the bounciness associated with a double-cab pick-up. The Korando isn’t the most powerful truck on the road, but it will easily keep pace with traffic and as mentioned that super smooth transmission makes it a very relaxing vehicle to drive.

The upside of that compact 2.0 litre engine is claimed fuel consumption of up to 35.3mpg, and CO2 emissions of just 212g/km. During our time with the truck we struggled to get close to that, but were certainly into the 30s, both running about locally and on longer runs.

Despite the low payload, the Korando has a reasonable size pick-up bed, with over 2m2 of load space. That’s not at the expense of rear leg room either, as the Korando provides comfortable accommodation for rear seat passengers too. The truck will also pull a 2.3 tonne trailer, which will probably be enough for many customers.

You will have to call into the dealer at least once a year, or at 10,000 mile intervals for a service. But SsangYong counters that by offering a five year, limitless mileage warranty, which promises extended peace of mind no matter how far you travel.

The SsangYong Korando Sports won’t suit all pick-up buyers, there is no utility specification for one thing. The limited payload and VAT issue will also put off some. However if you are looking for a truck with reasonable carrying and towing abilities, and you value a comfortable ride while on the road, the Korando Sports is well worth a try.

SSANGYONG KORANDO SPORTS EX AUTO
Basic price: £21,245
Engine: 4-cyl/1,998cc
Power: 155PS@4,000rpm
Torque: 360Nm@1,500-2,800rpm
GVW: 2,740kg
Kerb weight: 2,110kg
Payload: 630kg
Max trailer weight: 2,300kg
Combined fuel consumption: 35.3mpg
Carbon dioxide emissions: 212g/km
Oil change: 10,000 miles/1 yr
Warranty: 5 yr/limitless miles