SsangYong is a Korean carmaker that is back on sale in Ireland after a few years in the wilderness. New importer SsangYong Ireland has set out its stall with very competitive pricing and some new models like the Korando (€25,995) and Korando Sport pick up (€30,993).

Recently the Seoul based firm was financially ‘on its knees’ until it was brought back to life by Indian giant Mahindra and Mahindra Limited. Old SsangYong models you may recall include the Mercedes based Musso SUV (replaced by the Kyron), 7-seat Rexton SUV, Actyon crossover (that replaced the last Korando) and the ‘ugly as sin’ Rodius full size MPV!

New Korando shows how far SsangYong has moved on in terms of styling and design. Its exterior styling is impressive. At recent international car shows SsangYong has showcased some interesting designs. The handsome Korando can be confidently parked next to rivals like the Nissan Qashqai, KIA Sportage and Opel Mokka. Previous SsangYongs were at best… challenging to the eye but not so the latest Korando compact SUV crossover.

Inside the front-wheel drive Korando there is seating for five. An impressive level of standard specification is present also, to tempt new customers. There are three trim levels (S, E & L). The top spec ‘L’ version features full leather seating, reversing camera and classy looking side sills (that I found in fact hampered access). The boot size is average but there is a spare wheel as standard. A four-wheel drive version is available but unlikely to sell in Ireland. Korando and Korando Sport should not be confused as Sport is double-cab pick up with a number of rear deck options for those with an active lifestyle.

SsangYong used to rely on older Mercedes engines but now has its own four-cylinder diesel that pushes out 149hp and 360nm of torque. A five-year unlimited mileage warranty and breakdown cover is standard too and this is definitely a big vote of confidence from the Irish importer. Sadly in bigger, heavier models like the Rodius CO2 goes through the roof and pushes the people carrier into the €1,200 a year road tax bracket - so expect to see it only bought by Taxi drivers.

On the road Korando is set up for a soft ride. When cornering there is quite a bit of body-roll but nothing alarming. Under brisk acceleration it was easy to break traction especially on wet surfaces - particularly when exiting corners. On the open road the engine pulls strongly and the ride is refined. My test car’s six-speed manual gearbox gave cause for concern. On the day I got into it I had already driven three manual cars; a Mondeo, Note and Carens with no fuss, but more than once in the Korando was reluctant to allow me engage second gear. The gear lever can easily be pushed too far left (when shifting to second) - where there is no gear to select, plus fourth gear is positioned very close to second! After a couple of days driving I managed to adapt my gear shifting to negate the problem.

SsangYong Korando looks good, is packed full of kit and priced to attract attention.

Michael Sheridan