Long-term report: A fond farewell to our SsangYong Korando
A lot can happen in seven months, as I’m sure we’re all aware.
Thinking back seven months to the middle of February, I was just picking up the keys to ‘my’ new SsangYong Korando from a new dealer for the firm in Gosport – Fine Cars – and was happy to sit next to the brilliant salesman that guided me through its interior and features, shake hands for a photo and be on our way. Imagine that now, shaking hands with someone?!
But just a month after picking up the keys to RJ69 MTE, here we all were in lockdown, meaning that for many weeks the SsangYong was quite rarely used – a very odd feeling when your job is to essentially drive and review cars.
Yet, even with quite infrequent use at times, the Korando has certainly been put through its paces. It helped in a house move as soon as lockdown restrictions were eased, has been a great biking companion with its Thule roof rack and has never ceased to amaze me with the tech you get as standard.
Admittedly, it is the top-spec ‘Ultimate’ trim, but it certainly lives up to that name – my particular equipment highlights being its ventilated front seats, superb digital cockpit, keyless entry and start and heated steering wheel. I reckon a bit more safety kit wouldn’t go amiss, though, particularly adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitoring.
It’s also had some brilliant quirks, which are missed with more mainstream rivals. The ability to change the indicator and warning sound noises, for example. Do you need to do that? Absolutely not, but it’s a fun feature that kept me occupied.
The ability to change the welcome message on the digital dials is also something that tickled me for days. I also apologise to whoever ends up with RJ69 MTE next, as I’ve just remembered I didn’t reset the, ahem, ‘interesting’ warning message that used to greet me each morning…
And while, admittedly, the car hadn’t even covered 3,000 miles when it was returned to SsangYong, it didn’t step one foot wrong in those seven months. Not one niggle, quality issue, or warning message, it was quite flawless really. You might think that should be a given from a new car, but the number of (usually premium) vehicles that are less than a few months that go wrong is quite alarming.
In fact, the only area where I can really criticise the Korando is for its poor fuel consumption. Not once in my time with RJ69 MTE, no matter how carefully I drove it, did it ever hit 40mpg. In fact, most of the time it was in the high 20s, something that’s poor for a sensible petrol crossover like the Korando. SsangYong itself only claims 35.8mpg from the automatic gearbox fitted to our car. Sure, there is the diesel, which will return a more pleasant 46.3mpg in front-wheel-drive guise, but annoyingly that’s not available with this high-spec ‘Ultimate’ grade – which is the specification I’d want if it was my money.
So if not for being remembered as the car I had during (what is hope is) the only lockdown I ever experience in my life, I’ll remember the Korando’s brilliant interior tech, its hilarious ability to change the indicator sound and also its stupendous thirst for petrol.
Would I recommend a SsangYong Korando? Yes, I really would. It looks good, has an interior that plenty of rivals could learn a lesson from, is genuinely practical and, if you intend to keep your car more than a couple of years, its seven-year, 150,000-mile warranty could be worth its weight in gold.