Forget the quirky designs of old, Ssangyong's new Korando fields a face that will fit into any New Zealand car park. It fires the first salvo in a brand relaunch and aims to slot into the competitive light SUV market, with the brand's first monocoque build, a Ssangyong-developed engine in place of the elderly Mercedes units it previously favoured, and either two or four-wheel-drive variants.
That motor is a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel with 129kW at 4000rpm and 360Nm at 2000 to 3000rpm, mated to Ssangyong-developed six-speed manual and auto transmissions.
Ssangyong says this motor complies with Euro V regulations and delivers a 6.0l/100km thirst in manual 4x2 format and 7.3l/100km for the 4X4.
There's no low-range transmission although drivers can lock the four-wheel-drive into a 50:50 mode that sends half the power to the front and half to the rear wheels.
Early reports suggest a narrower powerband than is usual from modern turbo-diesels and too large a space between second and third gears, but reasonable handling for a soft-road SUV focused on comfort.
Korando's standard specification includes six airbags, stability control, air conditioning, cruise control, reversing sensors, CD and USB plus auxiliary ports for all models, with the top-spec SPR adding electrically adjusted and heated leather-clad seats, a sunroof, factory tinted glass, a rear spoiler, 18-inch alloy wheels and electronic power steer in place of the entry-level's hydraulic set-up.
All the variants tow 2000kg and carry 486 litres of luggage with both seat rows in use.
Photos suggest the new Korando is a tad bland, perhaps a compliment given that only its mother could have loved its predecessor's peculiar looks.
New Zealanders can judge the car in the metal from February, when Korando launches at nine North Island dealers, priced from $34,990 for the entry-level two-wheel-drive manual, and from $42,990 for the four-wheel-drive autos.