SsangYong's Korando spawns a commercial version in the shape of the budget CSE model. Jonathan Crouch reports on the 2.2-litre version.
Ten Second Review
The SsangYong Korando CSE is an extremely cost-effective alternative to the growing welter of city vans that are selling like hot cakes. With a raised seating position, strong equipment levels, a punchy 178PS 2.2-litre turbodiesel and 1,312-litres of fresh air behind the driver, it looks a steal for its VAT-exclusive £14,000 asking price.
The city van has a lot to answer for. No, really. Although light operators love them, they've effectively killed off a whole class of hatch-based vans. That's meant until recently that buyers of compact LCVs wanting something marginally more interesting than the likes of a Mercedes Citan or Citroen Berlingo didn't really have anywhere else to go. Thankfully SsangYong has stepped in to fill the gap in the market with its Korando CSE light commercial. You won't need the deduction skills of Sherlock H to figure out that it's based on the Korando compact SUV that's been doing respectable business for the Koreans with UK customers. That vehicle is cheap. This one is cheaper.
SsangYong can sell you a CSE 4x4 model with all-wheel drive if you want something really rugged, but for many UK customers the front-wheel drive CSE will do just fine. Both variants share the same 2.2-litre diesel engine, but the 178PS it generates won't feel weedy by any stretch of the imagination. That's due to the fact that the four-cylinder turbodiesel is good for a chunky 400Nm of torque, giving it a 2-tonne towing potential. Maximum torque is delivered from a low of 1,400rpm and maintained through a wide range up to 2,800rpm for smooth, progressive driving from the start. It's still not the most hushed powerplant in its class by a long chalk, but it's perfectly acceptable, especially at this price point. With a manual box, it'll get to 62mph in less than ten seconds.
Design and Build
The Korando already had one of the neatest profiles of all of the budget SUVs and the CSE commercial carries on that theme. Externally, the front receives a revised treatment that includes a slimmed down black mesh radiator grille, contemporary projection headlights and LED daytime running lights, while the interior has also been given a significant re-design that includes a completely updated dashboard. The Giugiaro styling is clean, with tidy detailing and a distinctive silhouette. SsangYong has clearly made an effort to lift the tone with metallic finishes and some bold lines, and the basic ergonomics are good, something that all too often gets forgotten in the chase for ever flashier control systems. There's still loads of space on board too, the completely flat load area accessed via a high lifting tailgate or two side doors, and packs a useful 1,312 cubic litre load volume. The load deck length is 152.5cm, and there's 96.5cm between the wheel arches. The car also carries a very practical 433kg payload. The rear windows are blacked out rather than metal panelled, so you might need to watch them with bigger loads.
Market and Model
It's hard to take issue with an asking price of around £14,000 plus VAT. That's less than the smallest entry-level Mercedes-Benz Citan city van and the Korando CSE is so much more discreet if you're delivering goods than a panel van. On the minus side, it's not going to be so easy to sign-write and the lack of sliding doors means that bigger items have to go in and out the back. An optional bulkhead is available if you're worried about goods moving forwards. There's hill start control as standard (the brakes hold the car momentarily as you move off, without the need for the handbrake). The centre console houses a Bluetooth-compatible six-speaker audio system with USB, iPod and AUX-in sockets. There's also electric windows and tinted glass as well as a leather covered steering wheel and gear shift, and cruise control. Another £1,300 buys you the all-wheel drive CSE variant.
Cost of Ownership
The 178PS motor returns 53.3mpg and emissions of 139g/km, which is really quite respectable. The Korando CSE benefits from a five year limitless mileage warranty. Designed to be totally transparent and give customers complete peace of mind, 'limitless' means just that: not a maximum mileage condition that some brands impose in their small print. All the major mechanical components are covered including wheel bearings, suspension joints and bushes, steering joints, shock absorbers and even the audio system. Consumables such as clutch discs and brake friction materials which could have their life reduced by poor driving are covered for one year or 12,000 miles, and the battery and paintwork for three years.
The SsangYong Korando CSE is never going to be a commercial vehicle with widespread appeal - it's just too specialised for that, but if you want something with a little bit of additional ground clearance that can carry a load and take a beating, it looks remarkably good value. Applications could include getting field engineers to remote sites or urban deliveries where a full-sized van isn't required but where discretion is guaranteed. It could even come in handy for private buyers who have gear-intensive hobbies and who can't really envisage ever using a set of back seats. Choice in the marketplace is always good and the Korando CSE is just one more option for light van operators to mull over. At around fourteen grand plus VAT, it's never going to be a costly error, that's for sure.