Joel Helmes reviews the Ssangyong Korando.
Most people with about $33,000 to spend on a small SUV head along to their local Holden dealership and buy a Captiva.
But there is an alternative.
First of all a reminder that the Captiva is not a “pure breed” Holden.
It was engineered in partnership with the defunct Daewoo brand, and every Captiva on Australian roads has been manufactured in South Korea.
Now being a product of South Korea is not a bad thing but compared to some of the other models coming out of the nation via Hyundai and Kia we have always felt it’s a vehicle that leaves a fair bit to be desired.
Enter the Ssangyong Korando.
Ssangyong is a South Korean manufacturer that hasn’t really grabbed the attention of Australian car buyers the way Kia and Hyundai have, particularly in recent years.
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t check out what they have on offer in 2012.
I had the keys to the SX spec Korando which sits one notch below the flagship SPR.
For under $33,000 you get a two litre turbo diesel engine, six speed auto transmission, and plenty of handy features such as BlueTooth connectivity, USB and Aux audio inputs, and Cruise Control.
On the road the Ssangyong Korando is a reasonable drive, the engine provides a fairly sluggish feel down low but once the revs are up there’s plenty of acceleration.
The official figures show the Korando boasts 129kW and 360Nm.
On the downside the turbo diesel is a fair bit thirstier than the very impressive turbo four in the Actyon.
The Actyon, which I recently reviewed (you can read here), is a much bigger vehicle and around town I managed an easy 8 litres per 100 in it.
In the Korando I used somewhere around 10.5 litres per 100 in the city, more than the stated urban consumption of 9.6.
It’s also a much noisier engine than that used in the Actyon with diesel chatter quite noticeable at idle.
I also noted that the transmission, which is otherwise ok, had a nasty habit of providing a harsh jolt when at low speeds, I have read some other reviews of the Korando and it’s an observation just about everyone has made.
The steering was also a fair bit heavier than what was observed on the Actyon.
Inside the Ssangyong Korando cabin you can really see that the designers have done their best to come up with not only a very attractive, but very usable layout.
The dashboard in particular is very functional.
The seats are a touch on the firm side and I felt the seat base, especially for taller people may be a little too short.
Speaking of firm, just like in the Captiva, I thought the driver-car connection points were simply too hard, that means hard steering wheel and hard arm-rests.
The Korando also showed a trait I found in a recent Barina review – a wobbly brake pedal.
Some of the positives inside the cabin include very good storage spots, reasonable leg and head room, great boot space, and quite a good stereo system.
But the real positives for the Korando come when you step outside of the vehicle – the Ssangyong designers have really come up with an attractive package here.
The grille, which has shades of something you would find on an Aston-Martin, completes the package.
Summing it up the Ssangyong Korando offers quite good value for money and for that reason alone I would recommend you check it out.
But is it better than the Captiva?
Yes it is.
NUTS & BOLTS
Engine: 2.0 Litre turbo-diesel four cylinder.
Transmission: 6 Speed Auto.
Fuel Consumption: Urban 9.6, Extra Urban 6.3, Combined 7.5
Safety: ABS, Front, side and head airbags, stability control, rollover stability control, traction control, EBD.
Green Rating: 3 and a half stars.