Big-value SsangYong Korando Sports real pick-me-up

SsangYong Korando Sports pick-up is a vast, versatile workhorse that can ably double up as a liftsty

SsangYong Korando Sports pick-up is a vast, versatile workhorse that can ably double up as a liftstyle load-lugger. - Credit: SsangYong

Pick-ups make ideal workhorses for active families – motoring editor Andy Russell drives the new SsangYong Korando Sports.

It wasn't until I visited a beach and saw people with jet-skis, canoes and all the paraphernalia which goes with them that I fully realised why pick-ups have become a popular alternative to the family car.

These five-seat, twin-cab pick-ups are just as capable as lifestyle vehicles at weekends meeting the diverse needs of the modern, active family as they are willing business workhorses during the week.

They've been around a while now but one of the latest to move into this market is the Korando Sports from SsangYong with the Korean manufacturer enjoying a new lease of life in the UK with a new importer.

The name is a little confusing because the Korando (without the Sports) is a sport utility vehicle and a very different offering. The Korando is not small but looks so against this pick-up – the first thing that strikes you about the Korando Sports is how big and imposing it is, closely followed by the fact that it looks really quite stylish.

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Given this pick-up's size the 155PS 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine does a fine job, making good progress from little more than 1,500 revs and surprisingly quiet and refined enough to cruise comfortably on motorways with the smooth-shifting optional six-speed gearbox kicking down readily for overtaking or it can be used manually via buttons on the steering wheel and the gear lever itself. Fuel consumption ranged from 27mpg running around to 33mpg on a gentle run.

The Korando Sports can go off-road with electronically-selectable four-wheel drive with high and low-range ratios. Chances are it will spend most of its time on the Tarmac where it acquits itself pretty well with decent ride quality. Much of that is down to the Korando Sports having multi-link rear suspension with coil springs, the set-up used on most modern cars, rather than leaf springs.

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The ride can be a little jittery on rough roads without passengers or cargo in the load bay but, for a pick-up, it is generally composed which comes as something of a surprise if you are used to driving pick-ups which can be rather bouncy over the smallest bumps travelling light. It's also quiet enough to have a conversation inside with not a lot of road roar, given the chunky tyres, nor wind noise.

The soft suspension is geared more for soaking up bumps and lumps – on and off-road – but the Korando Sports drives competently considering its bulk and the amount of road it takes up. Push it hard into corners and body roll builds but it's unlikely you will want to with the vague, ponderous steering which needs a lot of input.

If you are after a lifestyle load-lugger you can see the appeal of a twin-cab pick-up. This SsangYong can carry five adults although kneeroom in the back is tight unless those up front move their seats forward but that's not a hardship.

The interior clearly shows the Korando Sport's utilitarian side with lots of hard, black plastics which are functional rather than fancy but are well screwed together and should prove durable and, more importantly, easy to wipe clean.

The dashboard looks dated but you'll appreciate the big, clear dials and straightforward controls which are intuitive to use. The driving position has a good range of adjustment but rear visibility is seriously hampered with the removable moulded rear canopy – standard on range-topping EXT – in place over the loadbay. That said, it does add to the practicality and security when carrying loads.

The Korando Sports has a huge, well-protected cargo area but the downside of that the car-like suspension is that it limits the payload to 643kg, much less than rivals. And take care the first time you open the tailgate which caught a couple of people unawares because it was heavier than they expected.

Equipment is strong with SX including air-conditioning, 16in alloy wheels, remote locking, four electric windows and heated door mirrors, front fog lights and stability control but you only get front airbags across the range. EX adds leather seats (heated in front), cruise control on the auto model, power folding mirrors, rear parking sensors and 18in alloys while EXT adds the body-colour rear canopy.

My test car was fitted with the £999 Kenwood DAB touch screen sat-nav, CD/DVD with iPod and Bluetooth which is fiddly and slow to use and a couple of times the navigation froze.

The Korando Sports is a great value pick-up, with a five-year, unlimited mileage peace-of-mind warranty, which puts the style into lifestyle transport and can double up as a workhorse for both the firm and the family.

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