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SsangYong Korando Sports DMZ pick-up review

Is the military-inspired SsangYong Korando Sports DMZ more than just a paintjob?

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

For those in need of a cheap workhorse, the Korando Sports DMZ is certainly a contender. The ride is comfortable, it’s easy to manoeuvre and comes with an excellent warranty. However, the engine feels underpowered and the dated interior can’t compete with more established rivals. We’ll leave you to decide whether the paintwork is inspired or something to avoid...

Choosing the right pick-up for is only getting harder as 2016 progresses. In the past six months, we’ve driven the all-new Ford Ranger and Nissan NP300 Navara, while the new Toyota Hilux and Volkswagen Amarok are just around the corner. But what if you want something stealthier?

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Enter the SsangYong Korando Sports DMZ. This limited edition double-cab pick-up comes with a rather brave camouflage paintjob, which – in all honesty – looks like it’s been done by a five-year-old with an Action Man in one hand and a spray can in the other. The name is equally brave, as ‘DMZ’ is a jab at the de-militarised border zone between North and South Korea.

Here in the UK, however, the DMZ is simply “a bit of fun”, according to SsangYong bosses. There’s no armour plating down the side and no machine gun mounted on the back, but you can’t argue that the unique paintjob will prove quite the talking point among friends and family down the pub on a Friday night.

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Cheap gags about losing it in the supermarket car park aside, the Korando Sports DMZ certainly isn’t without merit. Priced from £19,195 (ex. VAT), it’s markedly cheaper than pretty much all of its pick-up rivals. In fact, the DMZ is almost £2,000 cheaper than the Isuzu D-MAX Blade and more than £6,000 less than a similarly-specced Volkswagen Amarok Highline.

That price is amplified when you look at the amount of kit you get as standard. The DMZ is based on the top-spec EX auto model, so along with the not so covert paintwork, you get heated leather seats, air conditioning, cruise control, 18-inch alloys and rear parking sensors. There’s also a very competitive five-year, unlimited mileage warranty to seal the deal.

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Running costs aren't quite up to par with a lot of its main rivals. Going on claimed figures of 35.3mpg, the DMZ almost on par the equivalent double-cab Ranger with the auto 'box, but can't quite match the Nissan Navara's claimed 40.1mpg. Plus, with emissions standing at 212g/km and an engine that is only Euro5 approved, you'll be paying £295 a year in road tax - £65 more than the Navara.

However, on the road, the DMZ is like any other Korando Sports. The 153bhp, 2.0-litre e-XDi diesel is the only engine offered and isn’t exactly a powerhouse in the pick-up class. Engine noise isn’t as intrusive as some rivals, though, and the five-speed automatic gearbox is a smooth shifter, too. There’s also selectable four-wheel drive with a low-range option for tackling the rough stuff. 

However, the engine and drivetrain are let down by how the DMZ drives. The steering is too light and almost completely devoid of feel. That might be a good thing for parallel parking, but you find yourself second-guessing your steering inputs when negotiating tighter bends on country roads. Our unladen DMZ test car managed to be just as susceptible to body roll than any other pick-up on the market, but the ride was arguably better damped and less wobbly on uneven surfaces than the new Ford Ranger, for example.

The DMZ’s interior is functional, but little more than that. Everything is where you need it to be but the design feels very dated. The new Nissan Navara uses materials lifted from its Qashqai crossover, making the Korando Sports' drab grey plastic dashboard and orange dot-matrix clock feel like a car from 15 years ago. Other niggles include a lack of large storage areas and almost no seat support.

The double-cab layout means access to the rear is easy and there’s room for three six-footers in the rear seat bench. The load bed is shaped to carry a Euro pallet without fuss, and the total payload is rated at 1,075kg.

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