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This is the new Ssangyong Korando

Korean crossover looks decent, and is bound to be a bit of a bargain

SsangYong isn’t yet the new Skoda, but the Geneva show proved it’s no longer a particularly good joke. The new Korando is a perfectly respectable family crossover that’ll sell at a bargain price.

It’s an all-new car, made after a large pile of money was poured into the Korean firm’s R&D department by new owner, Indian industrial giant Mahindra.

Engines are a new self-developed 165bhp 1.5 turbo petrol and an updated 136bhp 1.6 diesel. To show the scope of SsangYong’s ambition, a fully electric version will follow in a year.

The previous-gen Korando is overwhelmingly bought by people who tow caravans, and so there will be a diesel 4x4 in the new lineup that can lug two tonnes of trailer. But most versions will be FWD with the petrol.

Korean electronics competence is evident in the cabin, with the option of two decent-resolution display screens, and competitive connectivity. Cabin finish is good enough to go against a key target - the Kia Sportage - but at a lower price.

Driver assistance is also well up to par for the class, with radar cruise control and lane keeping assist on the menu.

There’s lots of sensible stuff too: good rear-seat legroom and a socking great 550 litres of split-level boot. And a seven-year 150,000 mile warranty. That’s not a misprint.

SsangYong UK’s MD Nick Laird told TopGear.com that the electric Korando could be quite a chance for the company because having an established brand is less important to EV buyers than the rest of the market.

Even so he recognises it’s limited, as electric cars are just one in a hundred of new car sales at the moment. He also adds that EVs are sold more in the suburbs, while SsangYong’s dealers are more rural because of the brand’s tradition in 4x4s.

But SsangYong overall is doing well in the UK despite difficult times for most car companies. It moved into profit without increasing sales last year, partly by increasing the proportion of sales of its most expensive vehicle, the big Rexton 4x4, and of petrols rather than diesels in the small Tivoli.

It’s also making progress with the Musso pickup, with more to come. Later in 2019 there will be a long-wheelbase, long-bed version of the pickup, with leaf-sprung rear suspension for bigger loads.

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