The rejuvanted South Korean carmaker has already impressed with its Korando SUV. Now it’s ready to tackle the burgeoning pick-up market.
Words: Phil Weeden
Gone are the days when the Japanese had the pick-up sector all to themselves. Mitsubishi, Nissan, Isuzu and Toyota all battled it out for supremacy, but arguably the two best load luggers in the market today are Ford’s new Ranger and VW’s Amarok. Is there really room for more? Well, Ssangyong certainly hope so as it has recently announced that its Korando Sports pick-up will go on sale next month in the UK, having been announced at the Geneva Motor Show back in the Spring. We had a chance for a quick play both on- and off-road to see if it can truly offer something the others can’t.
First impressions are positive: it looks distinctive, with its sharply sculpted styling. The exterior is chunky, purposeful but also sleek, appealing to those wanting a cross between utilitarian pick-up and leisure-derived SUV. There will be two models available – SX and EX – both powered by a 155PS 2.0-litre turbo diesel with selectable four-wheel drive including high and low ranges. There’s a choice of six-speed manual and automatic transmissions.
Our test vehicle was a top-spec EX model, complete with posh leather seats, including heated front pews, electrically adjustable and folding mirrors, rear park sensors and air conditioning. The fascia is well designed, with a simple layout. It seems well screwed together but the choice of materials doesn’t hide the vehicle’s budget origins.
Heading out onto the open road, one is instantly impressed by the ride quality; Ssangyong is rightfully proud of the multi-link rear suspension and it certainly delivers a civilised on-road experience. The flipside to the cossetting ride is that the 2097kg bulk makes itself known through the corners. The power steering is also rather vague with little feel or precision. That said, the brakes work effectively and the gear change is smooth enough. Performance from the 2.0-litre diesel engine is hardly sparkling, so the over-riding message with the Korando Sports is to take it steady; relax and enjoy the ride…
To read the full report, including tech spec, see the November 2012 issue of 4×4 Magazine. Buy the issue or subscribe here