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SsangYong Korando 2011 review

The wheels nearly fell off the Ssangyong a couple of years ago after its Chinese owner (SAIC) basically walked away.

Lucky for Ssangyong, a saviour in the form of cashed-up Indian automaker Mahindra came to the rescue agreeing to take a controlling interest in the besieged Korean manufacturer.

Lady luck has smiled twice on Ssangyong in a short time because the company was able to keep its new compact SUV program running despite the desperate times. 

Korando arrives this week priced to command attention and with styling by Giugiaro of the renowned ItalDesign studio. It makes a bold statement, unexpected from an outfit credited with having more than its fair share of stylistically challenged (ugly) motor vehicles.

To its credit, Ssangyong took the criticism on board and has introduced a new design language that should put it on a road to potentially follow the other highly successful Korean manufacturers. Ssangyong is confident Korando will change the way people will view the brand.

In diesel only at this stage, it comes to dealers in three grades; S, SX and SPR with the front wheel drive manual S kicking off at a sharp $26,300 plus on roads. Prices range up to $36,800 for the auto-only, all wheel drive SPR.

Far from being a boned-out price leader, the front wheel drive only Korando S comes with plenty of standard features including air conditioning, cruise control, six air bags, stability control, Bluetooth with audio streaming, auto dip rear view mirror, wheel controls, power windows and exterior mirrors and even reclining 60:40 folding rear seats.

Opt for adaptive all wheel drive and it means the SX model for a few grand more. All Korando models have the same powertrain with six-speed manual or six-speed (Australian made) automatic a $2500 option on the S and SX.

Power comes from a European-designed 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo diesel with a variable geometry turbocharger. The VGT is electronically activated and designed to minimise hesitation off idle called turbo lag. The engine is good for a handy 129kW/360Nm and delivers a claimed 6.1-litres/100km in the most economical Korando variant, the manual S.

Others aren't far behind. It is currently the only diesel in a compact SUV that passes the forthcoming, stringent Euro 5 emissions regulations thanks in part to a clever one piece catalytic converter and particle filter attached near the engine.

The two six-speed transmission options put Korando at the head of the segment in this critical area as six gears maximises fuel economy and performance while reducing emissions.

The all wheel drive models have a braked towing capacity of 2000kg and also feature lockable all wheel drive for speeds up to 35km/h whereupon the transmission goes into on-demand mode. Normal drive is to the front wheels.

It's built on a monocoque (pressed metal) chassis that Ssangyong expects will help Korando achieve a five star crash rating. That will be assessed in the near future. It's a five seater with a good size boot and a full size spare under the floor.

The interior has a generic look to it that is easy on the eye and simple to use. The wheel is adjustable for rake only and there's no left footrest on the manual model. But Korando offers plenty of goodies to make its occupants comfy not the least being good noise and vibration suppression, hill start assist and a comfortable, well controlled ride.

The outside looks a bit like the rear of a Holden Captiva blended with the front of a current model Barina (not Spark). It's a cute looking vehicle easily the equal of any competitor in this class and is as practical as it is easy on the eye. We got to drive the S and SX manuals and liked both. Naturally the SX has a broader application as it can capably go a fair way off road without cause for concern. But the S is pretty good on dirt roads too.

We liked the ride compromise and the roomy interior as well as the strong pulling power from the 2.0-litre engine. It really gets up and goes at highway speeds and from a bit above idle speeds, gets out of the blocks quicker than expected. An `Eco" mode can be selected to `coach' drivers to use less fuel.

Ssangyong offers the new Korando with a five year/100,000km warranty and service intervals are 15,000 apart to reduce ownership costs. We were surprised by this newcomer from Korea although its forebears and stablemates all go  pretty well thanks in part to Ssangyong's earlier links to Mercedes-Benz.

Now, there's a Ssangyong that puts it all together looks, performance, economy, price. Worth a look.

Pricing guides

$9,990
Based on 10 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$7,990
Highest Price
$14,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
S 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $6,000 – 9,240 2011 Ssangyong Korando 2011 S Pricing and Specs
SPR 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $6,900 – 10,670 2011 Ssangyong Korando 2011 SPR Pricing and Specs
SX 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $6,100 – 9,460 2011 Ssangyong Korando 2011 SX Pricing and Specs
Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.