The best thing about the Ssangyong Korando CSE (the ‘C’ designates commercial) is that it is car-like, which stands to reason because it is a car-derived van. This means it’s an easy-to-drive vehicle that behaves in a civilised manner on the road.
The Korando is available as the 2WD CSE and the 4WD CSE 4x4 driven here, with prices starting from £13,995 and rising to £15,295, excluding VAT.
It has a responsive and reasonably quiet engine in the shape of a new Euro6 2.2-litre E-XDi220 turbo-diesel offering a power output of 178hp coupled with torque of 400Nm – up 19.4% and 11%, respectively, compared with the outgoing 2.0-litre Euro5 unit.
This engine is well matched to a slick six-speed manual gearbox and performance is pleasantly smooth and stress-free, whether winding in and out of urban traffic or racking up miles on the motorway, where progress is made more relaxing by engaging cruise control, albeit via the somewhat awkwardly positioned stalk on the right side of the steering column.
Ssangyong claims CO2 emissions on the CSE range have been reduced to 139g/km from 147g/km compared with the old engine, with fuel consumption up to 53.3mpg from 47.1mpg. But these figures only apply to the 2WD version. In 4WD the figures are less impressive – 48.7mpg and 152g/km CO2, respectively.
Dacia’s car-derived Duster Commercial 4x4 claims far better economical and environmentally friendly figures of 54.3mpg and 137g/km. The Korando CSE’s passenger car roots, however, are also its Achilles heel: it is compromised as a practical working vehicle with a modest 433kg payload and a load volume of just 1.3m3.
The Dacia Commercial can lug a weight of 550kg and has a load space of 1.6m3 to put it in. The Ssangyong wins out, however, when it comes to towing muscle, being able to haul 2.0t compared with the Dacia’s 1.5t limit.
The load bay is not the most accessible, being reached by the rear tailgate and passenger-car side doors that were designed to access the rear row of seats, which the manufacturer has replaced with a flat load floor. There is a fair amount of wasted space underneath this load floor but, on the plus side, it could be used for discreetly storing small, valuable items such as laptops, briefcases or toolbags.
The glass in the rear door windows has been blacked-out, but this impairs the driver’s vision because the wing mirrors do not provide a comprehensive enough view to overcome the blindspots behind the vehicle to the left and right, which can prove hazardous when pulling out from slip roads into fast-moving traffic, for example.
The cabin is soberly furnished in dark shades and the dashboard plastic is of a decent, soft quality, although there is a fair amount of rather unpleasant fake-wood finishing in the interior too. It is a surprise to find there is no DAB radio, but you do get iPod and Bluetooth connectivity.
Our test van came with extras including metallic paint (£400), a towbar (£546) and a full-size spare wheel (£344), but there were no parking sensors. The Korando CSE 4x4 features a torque-on-demand four-wheel drive system that monitors the level of grip available and distributes power to the wheels that need it most.
Under normal driving conditions the engine’s torque is directed to the front wheels. However, if the front tyres begin to lose traction, power is automatically fed to the rear wheels to give grip to all four wheels.
An all-wheel drive lock mode is provided to ensure a 50/50 spread of torque between the front and rear wheels at speeds up to 25mph, which should ensure safe progress over more tricky conditions or when towing a trailer.
All Ssangyong LCVs come with a generous five-year, limitless-mileage warranty. The Dacia Duster, in contrast, gets three-year/60,000-mile cover.
|Price (ex VAT) £15,295|
|Price range (ex VAT) £13,995-£15,295|
|Warranty 5yrs/unltd miles|
|Service intervals 12,500mls|
|Load length 1,052mm|
|Load width (min/max) 907/1,350mm|
|Load volume 1.3m3|
|Gross payload 433kg|
|Engine size/power 2,157cc/178hp|
|Combined fuel economy 48.7mpg|
The Korando CSE 4x4 drives well and could be a useful option for those who need off-road ability and decent towing capacity rather than an out-and-out purpose-built load-lugger.