The South Korean brand, which has fortunately passed a big bump with the crisis, now has a more versatile range. It is one of the few manufacturers that offer all-wheel drive throughout its range. There are competitors that only offer this option to those who buy the most expensive model, or with an absurd gasoline engine. SsangYong puts within reach of your pocket a 4×4 for 20,000 euros, and they are not exactly bare of equipment.
Spain is the country with the second best share of SsangYong in the world
New diesel engines land in the range. In the Tivoli, which we have already tested with front-wheel drive, the D16T engine (115 hp diesel) can now be combined with all-wheel drive and manual or automatic transmission. The Korando, Rodius and Rexton W benefit from the new D22T (178bhp diesel), which not only pushes harder, but is also more fuel efficient and more pleasant to drive. The previous D20T gave 150 to 155 bhp. They are also strong engines, with the small one giving 300 Nm and the big one 400 Nm. SsangYong has opted for rightsizing.
The Tivoli and Korando are what today's market demands, cars for the road that can do something off-road (or not even that), and the two big ones, Rodius and Rexton W, are vestiges of the past: hard chassis and driving feel more like classic off-roaders. The truth is that this brand has improved a lot in a short time, and deserves to be taken into consideration if we are looking for a good performance of our euros, and if we accept a small sacrifice in exchange.
In addition to the improvements in engines, the automatic gearboxes are much more interesting. The big models say goodbye to the old Mercedes five-speed gearbox, and get a seven-speed T-Tronic (should be the 7G-TRONIC) from the same manufacturer, with a much more satisfactory performance. Korando and Tivoli receive a six-speed box of Aisin origin, which is also a success.
The update is completed with small aesthetic modifications. Headlights, keys type "butterfly", tires or dashboard look a little more modern, although we still find shortcomings such as lack of on-board computer in the Rexton W. They are small details that can be appreciated, without the typical complexity of a restyling to use.
Rexton W D22T 4×4 with automatic gearbox T-Tronic
First I got into the big model, which is an old-fashioned SUV. It has a heavy and sturdy stringer and crossmember chassis, which is very noticeable when driving even at low speeds. The body wiggles when accelerating hard, braking, or turning. Real off-roaders are like that, they have a very strange weight distribution. The steering is also very low geared, designed for driving on a rocky terrain, not on housing estates.
The arms will have to move quickly the steering wheel of new design if we want to be agile in traffic, and the one who does not have good technique gripping it is going to have a hard time. The priority in the design of this car is more the countryside than the road, so if you are looking for an SUV for posturing in the city I recommend you look elsewhere. In some aspects it seems to me an old-fashioned model, it reminds me of the first generation Kia Sorento I drove 10 years ago.
That contrasts with modernities like the USB sockets or the perfectionist design of the headlights, the close view of them is almost an act of pornographic contemplation, one does not expect that level of detail in a brand that some may call "cheap". The arrival of Mahindra's capital is being noticed a lot, the guys at SsangYong have been able to take more care in the small details.
With the 178 hp engine this Korean tank moves with more than enough agility, and takes you with much dignity at legal speeds and above. It's certainly a more comfortable and drivable car on the road than the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, starting with the fact that you can rest your left foot on something, and not have it dangling. Too bad the steering wheel doesn't adjust in depth, that's more than invented.
The engine is pleasant in general, and has enough balls to go from 80 to 120 km/h in less than 10 seconds, considering how much the guy weighs. How much fuel does it consume? I have no way of knowing, although it's supposed to swallow 6.8 to 7.4 l/100 km of diesel, depending on whether it's 4×2 or 4×4, manual or automatic. The tested version is 4×4 AT, if it goes below 8 l/100 km real is a very acceptable consumption for such a big and heavy car.
In the 4x4L mode we will have a reduction gear, which does not carry any SUV in the segment with monocoque chassis (as far as I know).
I was supposed to go from Madrid to Segovia through the AP-6, through the tunnels with radar, so as the goat always pulls for the mountain, I decided to climb the Puerto de los Leones, knowing that there was inclement weather. Better for me, for something I go in a fucking 4×4. I put the selector in 4x4H mode to have all-wheel drive, and went up at a normal pace, without haste or pause. Nothing to blame the gearbox for speed or smoothness. You can switch between 4x2H and 4x4H mode, but if you want a reduction gear you have to do it stopped, and in neutral.
The road was already in a minimally dangerous plan, slippery, but driving with proper tires and all-wheel drive, I felt quite safe in general. At one point I spotted some virgin snow waiting for me to get into it, so I pulled off the road and went for an adventure ("Let's see if it goes in... and let's see if it comes out"). Do you know how much it cost me? Nothing. I only noticed that it was turning worse when turning, which is a trick of the all-wheel drive it uses. I didn't use the "Winter" mode of the gearbox.
It has 216 mm of free height, 28º attack angle, 22,5º ventral angle and 25,5º exit angle.
The trip continued with an almost permanent rain, one of those days when you want to stay at home, or go out to dirty your SUV with various splashes. In fact, I ran into a formation of clayey mud, the kind that sticks everywhere, and it also moved like Peter in his house. The mats were lost when I got back on after taking a couple of photos. I hope that the people who had to clean it up afterwards don't hold it against me.
I remember the outgoing engine, the D20T, was clumsier moving the car. The only reason I see the older engine as more desirable is because it pays less road tax, due to the displacement. Otherwise, I'll definitely take the new engine, and I don't miss the automatic gearbox at all. Now the engine is better used, and I'm sure that will have a positive effect on fuel consumption.
Korando D22T 4×4 with automatic gearbox Aisin
The Korando is one of those SUVs that I find a little less absurd than the rest. The 2.0 petrol 149bhp 2.0 was interesting at the time, and I was pleasantly impressed by its fuel consumption in efficient driving. They don't sell it anymore, not with LPG either, it's only available as a petrol, but it's a good petrol car at the end of the day. I didn't get to drive it with the D20T engine.
The six speed gearbox is on the one hand modern, you can choose from economy, "sporty" (higher RPM) or winter (starts in second gear) driving modes. On the other hand, it has a very outdated design, and a ridiculous selector at thumb height. On the steering wheel I found, by chance, buttons that act as paddles, and allow to change gears with a reasonable speed.
It has a very correct power, they are not 178 hp to run, and it works very well with the automatic gearbox, which has little to envy to a robotized double clutch.
I didn't get to drive the Korando on the road, it was mainly a muddy excursion where I was able to stay at ease. This SUV has something very interesting, and that some high-end competitors don't have: you can force a 50:50 transmission lock, both axles receive the same power, up to 40 km/h. It has a descent assistant, and from that point on, the driver doesn't have to worry about anything else, he's on his own.
Although it has a typical touring suspension, the truth is that it can handle a bit of off-road fun without constantly thinking about bumps. You just have to be a bit more careful than with the Rexton W, which swallows big potholes without complaining. At the end of the day it's an SUV, and it has limits that you shouldn't lose sight of. It's designed more for on-road use, it drives almost like a compact.
It has 180 mm of headroom, an angle of attack of 22.6º, a ventral angle of 18.5º, and a departure angle of 28.3º.
With the stability control off, and the centre differential lock on, the Korando 4×4 moves with such apparent ease in wet mud, it's a joy to drive. After all, the Kumho Solus KL21 tyres are not just for motorway driving, they have M+S (mud and snow) markings. I think an SUV should always have M+S tyres if it wants to be more mobile than any conventional all-wheel drive car if the going gets tough. They are quite versatile in my opinion.
The Korando has quality details like the steering wheel with depth adjustment, or a chassis robust enough not to cause a cricket concert when going over big bumps. I think I did a suspension stop once or twice, not much considering the racing circumstances of the moment. As a 4×4, at the very least I'd say it's interesting. It doesn't go where a Rexton W would always go, but it's there for more than just climbing school kerbs.
Tivoli D16T 4×4 with automatic gearbox Aisin
My mates Guille and Daniel have tested the Tivoli, both with the naturally aspirated petrol engine and the diesel (both front-wheel drive), and in general they think it's a neat and tidy product, although it fails in the chapter of the crap. You'll understand me better if you watch Guille's conscientious analysis, who gets more out of cars than a Hattori Hanzo's katana. By the way, the Tivoli is the best selling SsangYong in less time, a sales smash hit.
Tivoli 4×4's have multi-link rear suspension, they're better on the road, but they do lose a bit of boot space.
I'm going to be more benevolent, knowing that it's a car in the B SUV segment, it has things that I like more than its competitors. Where others put hard plastics like Chuck Norris' torso, SsangYong puts padding. The seats are very comfortable for the type of car it is, and the truth is that inside has been very very resultón. The exterior customization possibilities, what can I say, seem to me a pocholada. And it's not exactly expensive.
I'm not convinced by the hard suspension, but it has a less bourgeois feel on the road than other competitors. It doesn't make the car useless on the road, although it's true that you have to be more careful with the Korando. More than a matter of grip or traction capacity, it's that the suspension allows less madness, a matter of travel. It's not a Suzuki Jimny, nor does it pretend to be.
Although it has the worst angles of attack and ventrales of the range, curiously it is the one with the best angle of departure. It is very low to the ground for an SUV, a Dacia Sandero Stepway next to it is a rock climber. It's very much designed as a passenger car, but to its credit it has the same all-wheel drive system as the Korando.
It has 167 mm of ground clearance, a 20.5° attack angle, 17° ventral angle and 28.5° departure angle.
The Haldex multi-clutch system detects when the front axle slips and sends power to the rear wheels without driver intervention. However, it is possible to force the 50:50 locking between axles, which is decisive when driving in very slippery areas, like the muddy areas I was in. The tyres have something to do with it, they are also Kumho Solus M+S, or Nexen N Priz AH8, depending on the model.
The little guy performs very well in low grip conditions, almost as well as its big brothers. Several of its competitors don't even offer all-wheel drive versions. The truth is that in the B-segment SUV is not an option that is asked for much. Of the Tivoli we don't yet know the ratio of 4×2 to 4×4 in the market, but we do know that the Korando asks for 4×4 in one out of every four sales, and in the Rexton in almost half.
The D16T engine initially seemed more powerful than normal to me, in fact I thought it had the D22T engine as well. That's what happens when you attend a press conference thinking about the appetizer, some details are not well retained. Well, for a 1.6 of 115 hp, it's very good, it's not a rocket, but it copes very well. On the highway it has enough horsepower to comfortably go over 130 km / h, if we are patient with the recoveries.
Consumption, according to the on-board computer, is very moderate, but we'll have to check it later.
Already on tarmac, the Tivoli 4×4 has nothing special compared to the 4×2, it should hardly impact on consumption -increased weight apart- and in terms of euros are only 2,000 more to equal equipment. There are brands that nail 3,000-4,000 euros for the same, as if the driveshaft was decorated by Karl Lagerfeld. I like being able to change the hardness of the steering, there are three levels. It's not a panacea, but it's a plus.
Petrol or diesel? There's a 1,500 euro difference, but the petrol is more comfortable to drive in general, and the petrol can't be automatic. Guille wasn't convinced by the petrol, but the good thing is that it can be converted to LPG for a little more money, and it pays for itself quickly. But that's if we want a normal crossover, because the G16 is not associated with all-wheel drive, only the D16T.
I'm not an SUV lover, of course, but there's something about the Tivoli that I like. Something similar happens to me with the Toyota C-HR, they have something daring, a little different, although my opinion in that chapter is as despicable as anyone else's. I haven't driven this car much. I haven't driven this car much, but it seems to me, apart from a few things, a good product. The crap can be improved in a restyle, other things are hopeless.
The model that escaped me on the day was the Rodius D22T with the same automatic gearbox as the Rexton. If we are looking for a really big MPV, and we want to have some freedom to go off-road, I can't think of much better alternatives. Remember the moral of "Beauty and the Beast", beauty is found on the inside. Approximately one out of 10 Rodius is sold with all-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive with a reduction gearbox. Who else offers that?
I'm amazed at how easily the windscreen wipers remove the most extreme dirt from the windscreen, another great point for the Koreans.
If we compare the current range of SsangYong with what they offered five years ago, such as the Kyron, you can see that things are moving forward. We expect some surprises, for the moment in the short term comes the XLV, a sort of Tivoli widened at the back to have more capacity, 720 liters of trunk. Finally, this brand offers five years of warranty - or 100,000 km - without having to pay anything more, or finance. At least they'll be sure of what they're selling.
And how much do they cost?
- Tivoli D16T 4X4 Premium: 20,000 euros.
- Tivoli D16T 4X4 Limited Aut.: ¤24,500
- Korando D22T 4X4 Premium: 23,000 euros
- Korando D22T 4X4 Limited Aut.: ¤27,500
- Rexton W D22T 4X4 Premium: 29,400 Euros
- Rexton W D22T 4X4 Limited: 30,950 euros
- Rexton W D22T 4WD 4X4 Limited Aut.: £34,700
- Rodius D22T D22T 4×4 Limited Aut.: 38,450 euros
Note that the automatics have a considerable jump in price, as the Limited are more equipped than the Premium, and there is the issue that sometimes the automatic jumps of registration tax bracket, and the price sticks a less natural jump.
NOTE: RRP prices with promotional discount included