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Long-term tests

SsangYong Korando Ultimate: long-term test review

First report: puncture aside, the SsangYong Korando SUV has made a solid start on our fleet

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.5 out of 5

Verdict

Aside from an early puncture, our Korando has impressed in the short time we were able to spend behind the wheel before the lockdown. Hopefully we’ll be able to drive the SsangYong again soon.

This is the newest member of the Auto Express test fleet: a SsangYong Korando. We took delivery of the car just before the country went into lockdown – and my time in it has gone from what was supposed to be a couple of days into months.

With a range starting from a shade under £20,000, it initially seems to be a reasonably priced SUV that undercuts rivals like the Peugeot 3008 and Ford Kuga. However, step up through the trim levels to the flagship Ultimate model – as we have here – and the starting price of £28,345 puts the Korando much closer to its rivals – so it’ll have to beat them on their own terms.

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The car we’ve added to our test fleet is a 1.5-litre petrol model, with an automatic gearbox and front-wheel drive only.

While the exterior design of the Korando is likely to split opinion, and I’ll admit to not being entirely sold on the looks just yet, its optional ‘Dandy Blue’ metallic paint finish (£550) and the standard-fit 19-inch alloy wheels are smart enough. The angular design is something you don’t see on every family SUV, so it’s distinctive.

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The Korando Ultimate gets plenty of other standard equipment, too, including LED daytime running lights, foglamps and tail-lights. Inside, leather seats that can be heated and cooled are a welcome upgrade, along with climate control and auto wipers.

The fully digital instrument cluster is another impressive feature, with a 10.25-inch panel that joins the nine-inch touchscreen infotainment system.

My first impressions of the onboard tech are that it’s good, because the digital dials are easy to read and operate, and connecting my phone to Android Auto was a simple task – aside from having to tap the on-screen ‘consent’ button every time I start the car.

Despite the Korando Ultimate getting pretty much every conceivable item I could ever want, the quality is slightly let down in places; there are cheap, flimsy-looking plastics which stand out from the higher- quality materials in certain places in the cabin. Also, with a light colour scheme, keeping the interior clean might be a tough task in the coming months, so I will be interested to see how it holds up.

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The 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine produces 161bhp and 280Nm of torque. While those are not powerhouse numbers, on my few motorway trips before lockdown, the engine delivered relaxed progress, with the six-speed automatic gearbox being smooth enough, if a little slow to react if I want it to select a lower gear when pressing the throttle. At faster speeds and while accelerating hard, the engine is a bit coarse, so it’s best to keep things relaxed.

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This calm nature continues with the handling, which is typical of a car of this type. There’s a decent amount of grip, but lifeless steering and a small amount of body roll mean it’s not much fun to drive.

Having only spent a couple of weeks with the Korando before the UK went into lockdown, it has met every challenge I’ve asked of it so far. Being an owner of two older cars that always need replacement parts, the Korando’s sizable 551-litre boot has proven useful, with space for a full set of replacement wheels for my BMW 5 Series.

Our short time with the SsangYong hasn’t been entirely uneventful: we picked up a puncture while on a local trip.

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This raises my only gripe with the Korando:  the lack of a spare wheel, which is not an available option on this Ultimate- specification car.

This meant the split tyre led to a trip on a tow truck, thanks to SsangYong’s excellent roadside assistance package – the truck quickly swung into action to recover the car.

The Korando’s rubber was replaced straight away by my local dealership, but that was just before the UK shut down. This means the car is still in their car park and we’ve not driven it since. We can’t wait to go and pick it up once this is all over.

Model:SsangYong Korando 1.5 Petrol Auto Ultimate
On fleet since:March 2020
Price new:£28,345
Engine:1.5-litre 4cyl petrol, 161bhp
CO2/tax:162g/km/£150
Options:Metallic paint (£550)
Insurance*:Group: 24 Quote: £619
Mileage/mpg:N/A
Any problems?Split tyre

*Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points

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