LET’S BE HONEST, SsangYongs are not lining up to win any beauty awards, by which I mean is that they have a reputation for being ungainly, awkward-looking things – you agree? So when we got the 2011 Korando SUV on test last year, we were pleasantly surprised to learn that the company had actually employed a designer instead of a man with a ruler and colouring pencil set it must have previously been using. And what a designer it chose, opting for Giorgetto Giugiaro of ItalDesign to carve out its new metal – with great success. It was fitted and finished on par with the other impressive Korean entrants in this segment, and it drove well too.
For this year’s update the Korando enjoys a revised grille (the only exterior aesthetic update) as well as refreshed instrument clusters and centre console. Bluetooth connectivity, rain-sensing wipers and auto-on headlamps makes for greater convenience too. The new range comprises five models – two 110kW petrols and a trio of 129kW turbodiesels, with only the range-topping deluxe diesel fitted with part-time four-wheel drive and an auto transmission. The rest have to make do with manual shifters and two-wheel drive with prices starting at R249995, which is slightly more affordable than a similar Hyundai ix35 or Kia Sportage.
I spent some time driving a petrol derivative at the Reef where it felt underpowered compared with the vehicle we tested at the coast, with a too-flat torque curve – problems that should not hamper the diesel engines. The top-of-the-range gets new 18-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors and side plus curtain airbags and can be yours for R324995. All SsangYongs come with a three-year service plan and warranty.