SsangYong Korando is what ‘Korea can do’. Can it do better in Indian car market than in New Zealand?

While Chinese giant SAIC owned SsangYong from 2004-09, it is now the big bet that Mahindra (M&M) has placed. Having taken over the company only recently, it is left to be seen if SsangYong Motors can emulate what JLR did for Tata Motors. Having been present in New Zealand since 1994, it is the crossover Korando that’s shifting focus back on the carmaker.

SsangYong hasn’t scored high on the styling front but does pack in quite a punch with their tough off road vehicles. The company has also opted to use licensed Mercedes-Benz powertrains in their vehicles.

The new SsangYong Korando goes from separate chassis to first monocoque chassis that’s safe and effective. It’s best described as a compact-crossover suited to be a light off-roader with improved styling cues. The 2.0-liter diesel engine isn’t from Mercedes Benz. In fact, it’s attuned to current gen engine tech specs with an electronically controlled variable geometry turbo. It records max power at 129kW and max torque of 360Nm. Mahindra has now introduced their first monocoque vehicle, the XUV500 SUV in India.

Barring the entry level vehicle, the six speed transmission is standard on all Korando variants. The compact crossover isn’t one for smooth driving under load. Here’s an automatic that knows its job when you’re simply driving by but when the pressure mounts, it’s not all full throttle. While driving pleasure may not be its USP, it comes with brilliant interior and exterior design for its price point.

The 2.0-liter diesel engine powers all variants, whether two- or four-wheel drive. The Korando Sports two-wheel drive entry model six speed manual comes for a retail price of $34,990. The modest crossover has a flat floor for rear-seat passengers, one-touch folding seats, and is adorned with welcome lights under the side mirrors. As the trims begin to get expensive, the compact crossover begins to make less sense and loses its dynamic edge.