CaravanTimes road tests the new SsangYong Korando towcar
CaravanTimes took the new Ssangyang Korando towcar for a test drive
Wednesday, 11, Apr 2012 03:01
by Chris Jefferies
When thinking of buying a sturdy 4x4 for towing your caravan, SsangYong may not be the first name that springs to mind, but the Korean company is aiming to change that.
This year, under new Indian ownership, they are making a concerted effort to win over the British caravanning public, including an upcoming appearance at the Caravan Club's National Rally to give away one of their brand new Korando models.
Naturally, we were curious to find out how this new name will fare among hard-nosed towcar buyers, so CaravanTimes borrowed one of the new Korandos for a day to see how it handles.
Launched last October, the first thing that strikes you about the Korando is the exterior design. Styled by Giorgetto Giugiaro (the Italian behind the Fiat Panda and the Delorean DMC) it has a very sleek and keen look to it.
However, our road test got off to a faltering start as it took us a short while (and a rather sheepish phonecall) to figure out that you have to put your foot on the clutch to turn on the engine.
The thinking behind this is logical, as it will stop you from driving into your garage door or fence post if it's been left in gear.
Steady and sure-footed
On the road, the Korando certainly feels smooth, stable and unflappable, thanks in part to its monocoque chassis, which SsangYong claims is the way forward for towcars, as it gives you the strength of a double chassis, but without piling on too much weight.
In terms of towing it certainly fits the bill - you can use all 175 bhp as and when you need it and the 265 lb ft of torque is delivered across a low and broad range.
The six-speed manual gearbox on our version delivered effortless shifting and, while the noise insulation was brilliant, even at high speeds and in heavy rain.
Manoeuvring in tight spaces can often be a big drawback of these kinds of towcars, but with rear parking sensors fitted as standard, we found parallel parking surprisingly stress-free when popping into town.
SsangYong could do British drivers a small favour by repositioning the handbrake, however, as its annoying location (just to the left side of the gearstick) left me grasping at thin air on more than a few occasions - a telltale sign that this car was originally built for those who drive on the wrong side of the road.
In terms of fuel economy, this tug was particularly impressive - it racked up more than 300 miles and still got back to base camp with more than a quarter of the tank left. SsangYong claims that the Korando will do more than 43mpg solo and this is very easy to believe.
What's more, its CO2 emissions levels (169g/km) are not too bad for a car of this size, so that will help qualm any nagging sense of environmental guilt. And with prices starting from just under £17,000 for the entry-level model, you certainly get a lot for your money.
The only major drawback was the slightly dim-witted Garmin sat-nav, which was slow to respond when presented with the problem of a closed single-track road - this is one optional extra that we wouldn't recommend.
Only time will tell if this plucky Asian newcomer can win over the notoriously savvy towcar buyer, but for long motorway drives, manoeuvrability and all-round comfort, it certainly gets the CaravanTimes seal of approval.
- Price: From £16,995
- Engine: 2.0-litre diesel
- Top speed: 112mph
- Fuel economy: 43.5mpg
- Kerbweight: 1,591kg
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