SsangYong Korando 1.5 GDI-T 2020 Road Test

The SsangYong Korando is a budget crossover alternative to the Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage and Skoda Karoq. While it's not as polished to drive as SUV rivals, it represents good value for money - and the brand's reputation for reliability (along with a generous seven-year warranty) makes it a very sensible purchase.

Traditionally a favourite with caravanners, the Korando was originally launched in 2019 solely with a 1.6-litre diesel engine. But times are changing, and SsangYong now estimates that three quarters of Korando buyers will want a petrol engine.

That's why a four-cylinder turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol has now been added to the line-up. It's quite noisy compared to the refined engines used in rivals, but there's plenty of power. It's not exactly nippy, but it'll happily haul the SUV up to motorway speeds quickly enough.

Our test car was fitted with the six-speed torque-converter automatic gearbox. This can be quite frustrating, especially around town, where it'll hesitate before kicking down and surging you forward. It makes it quite difficult to drive smoothly, but it's fine once rolling. An even bigger issue with the automatic is the price - it's only available with top-spec Ultimate trim, costing a hefty £27,995.

Ssang Yong Korando (7)

No matter which gearbox you opt for, the Korando isn't a fun car to drive, but the two-wheel-drive petrol does feel more agile than the four-wheel-drive diesel we've also driven. Visibility's very good, making it an easy car to thread through a car park, and reversing won't pose a problem for most drivers - especially as all but the cheapest models come with reversing sensors.

The 19-inch alloy wheels of our top-spec Ultimate test car won't help, but the Korando's suspension struggles to flow over bumpy roads. We suspect it'd make more sense in a more affordable trim level with smaller wheels.

Things start to look better when you consider how much physical car you get for your money. There's a 551-litre boot - that’s bigger than most mainstream rivals - and plenty of space for adults in the back. Indeed, head and legroom is particularly generous compared to rivals - we doubt a pair of adults sat in the rear would have many complaints after a long journey.

Unlike some rivals, there isn't a noticeable transmission tunnel running through the car, impeding foot space in the rear. And if you don't need to carry rear passengers, dropping the rear seats is simple enough and provides a van-rivalling 1248-litre large load area for lugging bulky items.

Ssang Yong Korando (5)

Up front, you'll find some hard-touch plastics to giveaway its budget price tag, but there's a fairly generous amount of equipment included as standard. Keyless entry, mood lighting integrated into the dash and an electric tailgate all feature on the Ultimate model - not features traditional SsangYong buyers would expect.

Our test car was also fitted with a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster as well as a nine-inch central infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This system is a little slow to respond at times and its graphics aren't the slickest, but it's no worse than those found in rivals. It's certainly better than the navigation system offered in the Qashqai, for example.

In terms of running costs, the petrol Korando performs reasonably well. Officially, it'll return 35.8mpg with the automatic gearbox (37.2mpg from the manual), which isn't that impressive compared to rivals but at least SsangYong tends to perform well in the real world. The CO2 emissions are also quite high, which means it loses its competitiveness for company car drivers.

The addition of a petrol engine makes the Korando more attractive to a wider audience, but it’s still not going to appeal to upmarket SUV and crossover buyers. It’s clearly been developed on a budget, but it also has plenty going for it - including a practical cabin, loads of standard equipment and a long warranty. If you can live with its flaws, we’d highly recommend the new Korando.

The SsangYong Korando is on sale now with prices starting from £19,995.

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