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SsangYong Korando Sports
With an increased payload is the Korando Sports now the most practical pick-up in the market?

IF you were looking for a macho 4×4 truck, our guess is that SsangYong would not be one of the first manufacturers to spring to mind.

The firm’s vehicles hail from South Korea and while they may not be the very latest in hi-tech fangle-danglery, they do offer good no-nonsense fare at amazingly low prices.

SsangYong has recently been taken over by Indian conglomerate Mahindra – and what this translates to as far as your are concerned is that all SsangYong CVs now get new engines

SsangYong has recently been taken over by Indian conglomerate Mahindra – and what this translates to as far as your are concerned is that all SsangYong CVs now get new engines. Gone are the old 2.7-litre five-cylinder units and in come a set of 2.0-litre four cylinder ones which offer smoother power and better fuel economy.

Before we get down to the nitty-gritty with the truck on test here, the Korando Sports EX, there are a couple points to bear in mind if you are thinking of leaving the safe harbours of the recognised brands and dipping your toe into the relatively uncharted waters of the lesser-known marques.

Firstly, manufacturers like SsangYong are desperate to break into the lucrative European markets, so are offering ridiculous levels of standard spec for equally ridiculously low prices. That means good deals for us all.

Secondly, that desire is matched by equal confidence in build quality, so that SsangYong is offering an unrivalled five-year unlimited mileage warranty. So if things go wrong in a big way, buyers won’t be left high and dry.

Those two points, in our book, make SsangYong a serious consideration for anyone looking for 4×4 double-cabs.

So what exactly is on offer with the Korando Sports?

The 2.0-litre powerplants offer 155bhp and a meaty 360Nm of torque, while the truck’s towing capacity is 2,700kg. Official combined fuel economy is 35.3mpg.

Standard specification on the EX, which costs £18,495, is comprehensive. It includes a six-speed auto gearbox, leather upholstery, powered heated front seats, 18-inch alloys and rear parking sensors, along with the usual array of safety features such as ABS and ESP, which are now a legal requirement for all commercial vehicles. The Korando also has active rollover protection (ARP) and hill-sold assist (HSA) for those dodgy off-road moments.

In the back, the cargo area will carry a one-tonne payload, making it eligible as a commercial vehicle for VAT recovery, and will swallow a Europallet. Meanwhile, a load liner and lashing points come as standard.

SsangYong Korando Sports
The Korando has a relaxed and comfortable car-like ride, while also carrying over a tonne weight on its load deck

What’s hot

  • Well obviously the price for starters. The lower spec SX weighs in at just £14,995 ex-VAT and even that model has a fair amount of kit as standard. It even undercuts (by £3 admittedly) the rival Great Wall Steed but having tested a Steed lately we reckon the ride and handling of the Korando is better – less jarring on bumpy roads.
  • The looks of this truck are a real American-Oriental fusion – rather like putting a hamburger and a plate of chowmein in a blender. We weren’t sure at first glance but after 10 minutes of squinting and chin rubbing we finally decided that Mr, he say Yeah!
  • Look at that spec. Blimey! We’d hate to imagine what a Volkswagen Amarok would cost loaded down with all that lot. Admittedly the Amarok has a much more upmarket quality feel to it in most departments, but if you are buying these trucks for someone else to drive and they don’t suddenly fall to bits after the warranty expires, you’ll be quids in opting for the SsangYong.
  • We were a tad concerned before our test drive about what this engine would be like. After all, our past experience of Mahindra machinery hasn’t exactly been one of smoothness and reliability. In the event we were well pleased. The powerplant fires up smoothly and quietly and underway, there was no rattling and clonking as with diesel engines of yore. The max torque figure comes in at a low 1,500rpm, which gives this truck a great turn of speed at low revs. Sadly our test drive took place in and around the Ace Cafe on London’s North Circular road – not exactly the best place to test an off-road truck – but we have no reason to believe it won’t perform as well in the dirt as on the roads.
  • You can’t knock the importer, SsangYong UK, for its stance on the warranty. An awful lot of damage can be done to a commercial vehicle in the course of five years and an unlimited mileage and we hope they haven’t bitten off more than they can chew.  The rival Great Wall Steed has a six-year warranty but it’s capped at 125,000 miles.
Not sure what a tonne would look like on the back? Luckily SsangYong clear that up with this handy illustration

What’s not

  • One of the problems with a lot of these budget vehicles is the power steering set-up and sadly the Korando fails here too. It’s ultra-light which means it’s rather vague – and there is no feel at all for what’s going on between the steering wheel and the road.
  • While we have no problems with the general fit and finish of this truck, some of the plastics felt rather tacky and “last generation”.
  • The tailgate of the Korando is good and solid, but the standard fitment load liner feels as though it might cave in if you put anything heavy on it. Would a split load liner be replaced under warranty? Maybe, maybe not.

Verdict on the SsangYong Korando Sports EX

At this price we take our (hard) hats off to SsangYong and wish ’em the best of luck with this perky contender against some strong opposition. It’s reasonably well built, it drives well and it offers a fair fuel economy figure, plenty of kit, and reassuring warranty back up. That’s not a bad start is it?


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