With a headline price from £18,295 including Vat the South Korean brand of SsangYong, now 70 per cent owned by the Indian automotive engineering conglomerate of Mahindra & Mahindra, has entered the flourishing double-cab pick-up market in the UK with their Korando Sports two version range.
The four door, five seater double-cab is available with SX and EX levels of specification, both with on demand 4x4 traction powered by a 2.0-litre, four cylinder 152bhp, 265lb ft of torque turbodiesel engine and available with six-speed manual or automatic transmissions.
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Other items of interest include the five years limitless warranty and the multi-link coil spring rear suspension which offers a more compliant and comfortable ride than the traditional cart-type leaf springs still widely used in this sector.
For Vat registered businesses they can recover the cost of the Vat depending on the circumstances of the business concerned so this could bring the headline starter price down to £15,291.
Although the vehicle has an ample 2.04 square metre load bed it is not one of the largest in the market so instead of a one-tonne payload which most double-cabs offer it can still carry 635kg and had a braked maximum towing weight of up to 2,300kg.
The new SsangYong Korando Sports will appeal to those who need a working vehicle, the practicality of four wheel drive, the towing capability to haul up to 2,300kg with a reasonable loadbed payload of 635kg combined with the interior space and equipment of a family car.
Whether towing a work trailer or horsebox, ferrying the crew to site or the children to school, or meeting the needs of sporting types who need a tow vehicle or an equipment load carrier, the vehicle will meet a range of different demands.
And the five year limitless mileage looks good value making it the only pick-up on the market to have such a long warranty with no limit to the mileage.
There are two models from launch. The SX is well appointed and comes equipped with 16-inch alloy wheels, tinted glass, air conditioning, leather covered steering wheel, remote central locking, Kenwood MP3 CD & RDS radio with a USB & auxiliary port and Bluetooth connectivity.
The EX features the luxury touch of leather upholstery with heated front seats, powered driver's seat, heated, electrically adjustable and power folding door mirrors and rear parking sensors. A six-speed automatic transmission with cruise control is also available as an option for both versions.
A smart looking optional rigid hard top is available to provide weather protection and security to the load area. This features a hinged rear window that closes behind the tailgate so that the central locking secures and protects the contents.
Design and interior
Styled and colour matched to complement the rest of the vehicle, the result is a neat design and not the 'tacked on' afterthought of many retro-fit hard tops. There is also a full range of other accessories available from launch including two further load space covers.
Constructed on a separate frame chassis - the core of a serious off-roader, the new Korando Sports offers a very rigid structure to help protect occupants in the event of a collision.
Accident avoidance and a sure footed performance off road are also enhanced by the electronic stability programme - a rare feature on many pick-ups but standard on Korando Sports, active roll-over protection and hill start assist.
The interior, in addition to the high spec even for the SX version, is well laid out and surprisingly roomy. It will appeal to financially hard pressed rural families in particular where the economic climate means that one do-it-all vehicle, for work and life duties, has become a must rather than having two vehicles.
The ride is comfortable with the coil spring rear suspension although there is some bodyroll and unloaded the rear end can skip around on wet greasy roads during cornering.
The 2.0-litre 153bhp turbodiesel engine as you expect from a budget brand is not the quietest or smoothest but it is responsive thanks to its useful 265lb ft of torque delivered from only 1,500rpm.
The six-speed manual gearbox version I tried had smooth gearchanges and was much more acceptable than the old style five speed gearboxes used in this sector. Overall the same can be said about its driveability; it is less heavyweight and less agricultural, less daunting as a family-use vehicle than other double-cabs.
The fuel economy is reasonable and my short test drive returned 30.1mpg, a shade down on the 31.4mpg official Combined Cycle figure. The CO2 emissions of 199g/km are high but as the vehicle is classed as a Commercial Vehicle (CV) so the road tax is currently £215.
Being a CV no official performance figures are given but expect a top speed of around 90mph and zero to 62mph should be around 14 seconds with the vehicle unladen.
Operated by a turn-button control the driver can select 2WD/4WD, or for heavy off roading - 4WD lock, which makes it easy to drive in all conditions. It is far less agricultural to drive than similar offerings from Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota, Isuzu and Ford and
Priced at least £3,000 less than its main double-cab rivals the Korando Sports might come up short on the maximum payload it can carry but it delivers more in terms of value for money and that long limitless warranty.
SsangYong Korando Sports EX Double Cab Pick-Up
£19,995 as tested, the SX £18,295 and both prices include Vat. Auto transmission adds £1,250.
2.0-litre, 4-cylinder, Euro 5 turbodiesel 153bhp, 265lb ft of torque from 1,500rppm, 6-speed manual with 2WD/4WD/4WD Lock control.
Homologated as a CV so no official figures are given.
31.4mpg (30.1mpg on test), CO2 199g/km, CV road tax £215.
Smart looks inside and out, long warranty, very attractive pricing, high specification, looks durable, comfortable ride thanks to coil spring suspension, 6-speed slick gearchange, almost car-like to drive.
Smaller than the industry 'norm' payload, limited number of dealers.