SsangYong Korando

2.2 ELX 4x4 Auto

Ssangyong Korando ELX, front
Ssangyong Korando ELX, rear quarter
Ssangyong Korando ELX, front quarter
Ssangyong Korando ELX, controls
Ssangyong Korando ELX, interior rear

THE name can prove an ideal conversation ice-breaker.

SsangYong has to be the most unusual sounding automotive company in the business and while the Korean brand has been out there since 1954 it hasn't always specialised entirely in passenger cars.

Back in 1964 for instance, it began building Jeep-style vehicles for the US Army as well as trucks, buses and, a decade later, multi-purpose vehicles.

These days SsangYong's emphasis is principally on value for money SUVs, the most established being the mid-size Korando model.

Designed by Italian styling house Giugiaro, the Korando combines rugged looks and SUV capability with low running costs and prices from £16,295 - actually cheaper than the lead-in price of six years ago.

It also boasts a two-tonne towing capability, making it ideal for pulling trailers or caravans, and is backed by a five-year limitless mileage warranty.

The Korando's cabin is simply laid out with accessible controls and interior space is first class with plenty of head and legroom for three rear passengers, though the centre position is slightly perched.

And should you need to carry larger items, the 60/40 split rear seats fold completely flat to open up a huge load space.

Family oddment stowage is also well catered for too, courtesy of door bins with integrated cup holders in all four doors, a glovebox, pockets in each door, a deep central container, storage flaps behind the front seats, lit and lidded vanity mirrors in the sun visors and an overhead sunglasses holder.

While entry grade SE models come with a 2.0-litre petrol engine the rest of the line-up features a powerful 2.2-litre diesel developing 178bhp of wallop.

It works well too, even though there's a fair bit of diesel clatter and the six-speed automatic transmission operates adequately with smooth gearchanges.

That said, the six-speed manual costs £1,500 less and will give you an extra eight miles per gallon.

But performance is crisp, the raised driving position a boon and the likes of flooded roads and muddy fields pose no problems for variants like the tested version which has have all-wheel drive - a torque-on-demand 4x4 system that operates in two modes depending on conditions and settings.

The official fuel economy figures see this model returning an average 40.7 miles per gallon, though most drivers would do well to manage 35mpg.

FAST FACTS

SsangYong Korando 2.2 ELX 4x4 Auto

Price: £23,995

Mechanical: 178bhp, 2,157cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 6-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 115mph

0-62mph: 9.9 seconds

Combined MPG: 40.9

Insurance Group: 26

C02 emissions: 179g/km

Bik rating: 37%

Warranty: 5yrs/unlimited miles

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