Based on the passenger Korando small off-roader, the CSX is by far the best of the three, both visually and to drive, where it impresses more that might be expected, given the budget brand reputation.
A very precise gearshift is the first sign that this is a solid vehicle, and the 149hp 2.0-litre diesel raises eyebrows for both its performance and refinement. The steering is well weighted, and the only real let-down is that body control isn’t as well managed in corners as more established rivals.
Access to the load area, which is effectively the rear seats of a passenger car removed and replaced with a carpeted solid load bed, is via the tailgate or either of the rear doors, which feature panels replacing the side glass. It’s obvious the CSX is based on a passenger car, with touches like inactive rear electric window switches giving the game away.
The interior is of pretty good quality, given the budget price tag, though our vehicle was fitted with the rather unpleasant Kenwood DAB touch-screen nav and audio system that isn’t worth the £999 price tag. It’s nice to have the features, but the system is decidedly user unfriendly, and very difficult to use on the move in particular. Disappointing aftermarket audio systems seem to be a failing of most cheaper brands, and this is no exception.
The CSX features a torque-on-demand all-wheel drive system, where it will run in front-wheel drive mode in normal conditions, but the van senses any loss of grip and allocates power to the wheels that need it most. There’s also a 4x4 lock mode for speeds under 25mph.
The Korando is £4000 cheaper than its key rival, Mitsubishi’s ASX commercial vehicle, and though it’s not quite as good an all-rounder, it certainly does more than enough given the price gap. It’s also got a slightly larger load area, though the payload is slightly lower.
Standard equipment includes air conditioning, leather steering wheel and gear lever, alloy wheels, rear parking sensors and cruise control.
All in all, the Korando is a surprise in quality and driving experience terms, and for those few buyers requiring or desiring a two-seat 4x4 van rather than a single-cab, or much more expensive crew- or double-cab pick-up, then it’s worth seeking out one of Ssangyong’s 52 UK dealers.
Impressive performer in a niche area of the market