[tl:gallery size=460×365]

[tl:gallery size=460×337]

New look, better finish

Facelifts can be rather half-hearted, with the odd styling

tweak to liven up an ageing design. Not with the Korando. A good looking car

(don’t forget, it was styled by the famous Italian design house, Giugiaro) has

been modernised with a more slender, black mesh grille and a more intricate

headlight design. Squint a bit and the new front end looks a bit like a beefed

up Renault Captur crossover, which is no bad thing in our book.

Inside, the old does-what-it-says-on-the-tin dashboard has

been replaced with a new, more appealing fascia. The standard of finish has improved,

with soft-touch plastics on top of the dashboard. It’s a shame they’re not on

the upper half of the doors, too, but perhaps that’s unreasonable to ask of

what is still a budget car. What’s more important is that ease of use hasn’t

been sacrificed for style, with large rotary dials, clearly labelled buttons

and a sensible layout.

[tl:gallery size=460×322]

Other changes are aimed at improving what the car

industry calls NVH (noise, vibration and harshness). With po-faced precision,

Ssangyong’s engineers claim a 9.3% improvement over the old car.

Human senses struggle to be so exact, but suffice to say the

revised car is definitely quieter at speed. That’s certainly the

case when driving cars with the lower powered version of the e-XDi200 diesel

engine. New engine mountings and reinforced sub-frames mean less noise and

vibration are felt inside the cabin. Even when accelerating hard the engine

sounds more distant than before.


[tl:gallery size=460×307]

Less is more

There’s a surprisingly big difference between the 147bhp and

the 173bhp versions. Despite being essentially the same engine in different

states of tune, the high-powered diesel is obviously noisier from the moment

you twist the key. There’s more diesel clatter, and a grumpy mumbling that

never disappears even when cruising on the motorway.

In contrast, the less powerful engine keeps itself to itself

once up to cruising speeds. It’s still a little gruff when your press hard on

the accelerator but it sounds far more distant than the 173bhp version.

You might think that the less powerful engine would compromise performance, but in fact both post identical 0-62mph times of 9.9 seconds.

In part that’s because the 147bhp version is only available with a six-speed manual

gearbox, whereas in the UK the 173bhp cars will all be six-speed autos.

The manual feels a bit clunky, but unless you really must

have an automatic we prefer it. The auto takes an age to change gears if you

use the manual override, and it can hunt up and down between ratios.

For towing duties, there’s no compromise in choosing the

less powerful car, which will be sold in two- and four-wheel-drive versions. Ssangyong

quotes identical kerbweights for both (1591kg to 1645kg for the 2WD and 1672kg to 1727kg for the 4WD,

depending on the level of equipment). The 2000kg towing limit is also

the same.

Peak torque (the mid-range muscle which really counts when

towing) is 266lb ft for both engines, and it arrives at lower revs in the lower

powered model, which is also more economical (48.7mpg on the combined cycle

for the two-wheel drive).

[tl:gallery size=460×230]

Lots of car for the money

While some of the old Korando’s weaknesses have been addressed, its

strengths have been preserved. As before, there’s more legroom in the back than

you’ll find in a Hyundai ix35 or Kia Sportage, and the boot is a healthy 486

litres with the seats upright. Folding the seats down provides a near-flat load

floor and up to 1312 litres of space.

Pricing continues to be keen. The range starts from £14,995

for the 2.0 SE. The cheapest four-wheel-drive is the 2.0 SE4 at £16,495, while

the higher-spec 2.0 ELX4 will cost £19,995. The ELX4 auto with the

higher-powered engine costs £21,495.

The Korando still leans heavily if you corner hard, and the

self-centring on the steering remains too strong. But those criticisms won’t

worry caravanners looking for a robust, powerful and keenly priced tow car.

That wider recognition may finally be on the way.

[tl:gallery size=460×327]