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Published on Monday 24 October 2016 09:42

Ten Second Review

SsangYong is dipping its toe into the light van segment with this Korando CSX Commercial model. It may not be one of the biggest choices in the compact van sector but it is one of the few available with 4WD, potentially a boon for rural operators.


When a company as no-nonsense as SsangYong brings us a van as good looking as the Korando CSX, it's perhaps understandable that we should be a little suspicious. It's like Girls Aloud releasing a single that's lyrically profound or England producing a national team that can keep a football; pleasantly surprising but a little disconcerting. You knew where you were with old school SsangYong vehicles. They would never go wrong, were as tough as old boots but had the sort of styling that would terrify small children. Granted, styling isn't perhaps the number one buying criterion when choosing a light commercial vehicle like the Korando CSX but it's always good to be able to throw open the garage door of a Monday morning and not feel as if you've just clapped eyes on Medusa herself.
This Korando was originally styled by the Giugiaro design house, and it's a bit of a looker. Smart, adroitly detailed and, yes, not very big. Again, not what you'd apparently look for in a commercial, but this is a broad church and not everything needs to be as spacious as a squash court when you throw the rear door open. Not everything in this sector needs 4WD either, but here SsangYong provides it for slippery building sites and extra peace of mind for operators on icy mornings.

Driving Experience

In order to keep a cap on costs, this Korando CSX isn't powered by the same 173PS two-litre turbodiesel that's fitted to plusher versions of the passenger car. Instead it gets the lower power 149PS powerplant. There's not actually any difference in the amount of torque on tap, with this engine making the same 360Nm at between 2,000 and 3,000rpm as the 173PS unit. It's just as quick to 62mph, taking a brisk 9.9 seconds and will hit a top speed of 116mph.
The Korando CSX features a Torque on Demand four wheel drive system which constantly monitors the level of grip available and distributes power to the wheels that need it most. Under normal driving conditions, the engine's torque is directed to the front wheels so the car runs with the efficiency of a family hatchback. However, if the front tyres begin to lose traction, power is automatically fed to the rear wheels to ensure safe, stable and dependable progress is maintained with grip from all four wheels. An all wheel drive lock mode is also provided to ensure a 50/50 spread of torque between the front and rear wheels at speeds up to 25mph, essential for when low speed traction and control is needed such as when driving up a slippery track or off a muddy building site towing a work trailer. There's also ESP stability control and Hill Start Assist.

Design and Build

From what I've heard from those who've had the pleasure, Ken Greenley is a lovely chap but his styling work on the old SsangYong Musso, Rodius and Korando models could be described as idiosyncratic at best. This more generic-looking but undoubtedly more socially acceptable Korando is the work of Giugiaro, the design house responsible for the likes of the Alfasud, the Fiat Panda, the Lotus Esprit and the Maserati 3200GT. So it's perhaps understandable that it's a looker. Okay, so Giugiaro also turned out the Renault 21, the Saab 9000, the Daewoo Leganza and the Zastava Yugo, so even great design houses have off days but this Korando is definitely one of its better outputs.
One thing it's not is very big. The five-door shape is decently practical but the wheelbase is pretty short at just 2650mm. For those interested in the technicalities, the Korando design was SsangYong's first to be built on a modern monocoque chassis instead of an old-school separate body-on-frame. This offers a number of benefits in terms of suspension refinement which in turn contributes to a more upmarket road feel. Do you need that in an LCV though? Wouldn't you rather have something that's not quite so polished but which feels as if it could drive across anti-tank revetments? Again, there's a market for both styles.

Market and Model

The Korando CSX, as its name cunningly hints, is the commercial version of the SX model, the one that sits bang centre of the five-model passenger car trim line up. It's priced at around £16,000 on the road excluding VAT, which looks decent value for money, especially when one considers the amount of gear you get. As well as the clever on-demand all-wheel drive system, this Korando gets refinements like roof rails, tinted glass and rear parking sensors, while inside there is a leather covered steering wheel and gear shift, cruise control and a Kenwood MP3 CD & RDS radio with iPod & Bluetooth connectivity, remote audio controls and six speakers. It's a long way removed from your usual plastic dungeon commercial vehicle interior.
The Korando CSX also gets hill start assist as standard (the brakes hold the car momentarily as you move off, without the need for the handbrake), though there's no hill-descent control function. This is a little odd for a car that proclaims its off-road ability, SsangYong quoting approach, departure and break-over angles to underscore its all-terrain versatility.

Practicalities and Costs

The 2.0-litre diesel might offer a prodigious peak power output but SsangYong has made a reasonable fist at keeping CO2 and economy figures acceptable. Emissions are pegged at 157g/km which isn't at all bad for a vehicle of this size. Fuel economy is a very creditable 47mpg. There's also a five year unlimited mileage warranty to sweeten the deal.
Throw the rear doors open and you're greeted by a completely flat load area with a respectable 1,312 cubic litre load volume. There's a load deck length of 152.5 cm, and 96.5 cm between the wheel arches. The car also carries a very practical 433kg payload and can lug along a two tonne braked trailer. Okay, those looking for something capable of routinely handling bulky loads might find it wanting but it's more than enough for most duties and will be most likely chosen by those who need an all-terrain vehicle for management/supervision duties or who require a delivery vehicle that's going to be put to work in rural areas or where all-weather, all season services need to be guaranteed. It comes with a set of mud and snow tyres fitted as standard which means that whatever the weather, it'll take a good deal of stopping.


Cards on table time. I'm a SsangYong convert. I used to think their products were somewhat hilarious things that made the automotive environment a more interesting place but which you'd never consider buying. More recent models though, are cut from very different cloth. While they're maybe not quite so idiosyncratic, the flipside of this is that you could imagine one sitting on your drive without fear of becoming a social pariah.
Bottom line? This Korando CSX light commercial is a really strong product. Okay, you'll need to make sure that it's big enough for your needs before taking the plunge, but otherwise it's respectable value, decently equipped, built to last and attractively styled. Plus you've got the extra benefit of all-wheel drive go-anywhere ability that'll probably leave your business competitors' vans scrabbling by the side of the road when the snow next strikes as your deliveries sail on past.
Overall, we reckon that the conversion to light commercial actually improves this Korando. Some of the issues that hold it back as a passenger SUV - the anonymously-styled dashboard and the small boot for example - suddenly don't carry so much weight as a two-seat LCV. Not an obvious choice then, but arguably a very clever one.
Overall, we reckon that the conversion to light commercial actually improves this Korando. Some of the issues that hold it back as a passenger SUV - the anonymously-styled dashboard and the small boot for example - suddenly don't carry so much weight as a two-seat LCV. Not an obvious choice then, but arguably a very clever one.

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