Fancy a pick-up truck? You’ll probably want to buy something Japanese then, won’t you? Well, Korean firm Ssangyong have other ideas, and their revamped version of the Korando Sports could provide a low cost alternative to the traditional working pick-ups.
First Drive Impressions
First impressions of the Korando are good, its styling is distinctive yet understated. Unlike the Ford Ranger and VW Amarok, it doesn’t scream look at me, nor does it take up half of the road either. However, that size disparity does mean it is lacking in certain areas. Those vehicles are big for a reason, and the Korando Sports is much closer to passenger cars than commercial vehicles.
A side-on look at the pick-up will show that the load area is compromised by the lengthy cab. At 4990mm long, the Korando Sports isn’t much shorter than the market leaders, but the large cabin leaves just 1275mm of usable space; around 250-300mm less than the likes of the Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi L200 and Toyota Hilux.
Nevertheless, the Ssangyong has a load area of 2m2 but its load carrying capacity is a paltry 630kg, significantly less than the majority of the pick-ups in the market which generally accept over one tonne. This is largely due to the rear multilink suspension, a strange choice perhaps for a pick-up truck where leaf springs are usually used for the job.
With a rear-axle designed more for comfort than work, you would think that the Korando Sport must then be better suited to on-road driving. Well, actually no, as the steering provides little feedback, and is overly light and too unresponsive over the first five to ten degrees of lock – a feature that is a benefit off-road. It is, however, a smooth, enjoyable and comfortable ride, and the lower chassis height created by not using leaf springs means that the Korando Sports’ 750mm loading height – around 100mm less than the competition – makes loading heavy items easier.
Power comes from Ssangyong’s new in-house 2-litre e-XDi which produces 153hp and 360Nm of torque, and can be accompanied by a choice of either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. Full marks should go to Ssangyong for their engine. It’s surprisingly quiet and is adequately suited to meet the power demands of this market. The automatic transmission also provides smooth and quick gear changes, although we found it to be a little indecisive at times.
Fuel economy is a particular strength, and is one of the best in its class with a claimed combined figure of 37.7mpg on the manual or 35.5mpg on the automatic.
Like the outside, your first impression of the cab is positive. It is a spacious design, offering a commanding driving position, and comfortable seats. The comfort continues into the second row of seating, with passengers in the back benefiting from reclining seats and a generous amount of legroom. Storage is plentiful around the cab, including a large centre compartment and large pockets in the doors, while all models benefit from tinted glass, air conditioning, leather covered steering wheel, remote central locking, Kenwood MP3 CD radio with a USB & auxiliary port and Bluetooth connectivity. Higher spec SX models feature heated front seats, powered driver’s seat, electrically adjustable and power folding door mirrors and rear parking sensors – which are a definite benefit due to the poor visibility at the rear.
It’s a solid package, but the Korando Sports is really more of a lifestyle pick-up. While the payload limits its use as a workhorse, for people who want a 4x4 with a big boot to carry mountain bikes, for example, or even bails of hay for the horses, if fits the bill and does it in comfort. But if you’re looking for a pick-up to put to work its probably best to stick to the household names.