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SsangYong Korando III / New Actyon. Mini-review

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Eugenio,77
mail@toyota-club.net

© Toyota-Club.Net
Apr 2013 - Oct 2015



There is a one variant at a seemingly attractive price among the light SUVs with automatic transmissions...



VEHICLE

SsangYong Korando (3rd generation), at rus-market sold as New Actyon. Presented as a concept C200 in 2009, production start since 09.2010 (diesel only), since 02.2012 gasoline with MT version is available, since 10.2012 - gasoline with AT, since 08.2013 - restyled version.

The price of the minimal acceptable grade (AT, 4WD, ESP) was about $29.000* (Elegance +).
* Hereinafter provided last pre-war prices, at now the price in rubles rose slightly, but in dollars has fallen

Few details about the grades at russia offered since MY2014:
- Welcome - starting grade for "promotional" price devoid of even ABS (unfortunately, the local law allows it). In addition, the manufacturer saved on the spare wheel, seat heaters and cruise control.
- Original - archaic basic grade without ESP, without side and curtain airbags. However, these required attributes of a modern car, along with climate control and parking assistant, are included in the optional pack. In this case, a list of the missing equipment is reduced to fog lamps, steering wheel telescopic adjusting, mirror folding and audio system.
- Elegance - the optimal grade, without heating of wheel and rear seats. It has a nice combination meter, rather advanced media system with navigation, keyless entry and start.
- Elegance+ - mentioned above heaters are added, with 17 "wheels, auto lighting control and rain sensor.
- Elegance L - seats are wrapped in imitation leather.
- Premium - added 18 "wheels, driver's seat ventilation and electric adjusting, sunroof, TPMS.

Among the cars sold an unusually large proportion of 2WD basic version. It seems - as an alternative to hatchbacks or compact van of decent brands hatch. Koranso as hatchback is queit comfortable, but much of overweight - 200-300 kg beside specific cars (though SsangYong's engineering culture in a weight was always poor). Second drawback - cutted options, not only comfort, but also security, in comparison with modern C-class cars.

After restyling minimal requirements consistent version cost was $30.500 (Elegance), with diesel - $29.700


EXTERIOR


High-quality professional work can be seen at once - of course, talking about Italdesign Giugiaro. Not all of their projects can be considered successful, but C200 is clearly a success - a calm, neutral classics in the form factor of a compact SUV. Although the "compactness" is very relative - with curb weight 1600-1700 kg Korando is heavier and larger, not only reference Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson, but even some Japanese mid-SUVs. Body contours allow for involuntary analogy with the Daewoo Matiz - it is not surprising, since both models come from the same design studio.


The extreior design did not impact functionality, despite the "hatchback-shaped" body and upturned "stern".


Restyled front side with the new optics is correlated with general corporate style, but... the original Jaguar-style face was much prettier.



INTERIOR
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Before the restyling the interior has also proven classic style, that are appreciated in contrast to contemporary shapes of first rank Asian brands. The tactile sensing of the materials is average, but SsangYong is visually pleasant, while top-end version with light beige interior was perhaps the best among Asian "classmates".


Build quality seems also average, sure it is not russian car, but not a top brand with a "monolithic" salon. Body rigidity test on uneven ground shows excessive suppleness not only of tailgate doorway but also of the side doorways.

After restyling the classics was replaced by "hyundai-style", albeit with the addition of some softer plastic elements (the upper part of the panel).



ERGONOMICS


Driver . The seat is installed not so high above the floor, but high enough above ground level, so that together with good forward visibility creates a light sense of "command position". Adjustments range is sufficient, the seat does not force to a proper "anatomical" position, the steering wheel adjusting in two directions (since mid-grade), there are not outspoken ergonomic failures, but there is a some sense of inner space. There is the leather trim at steering wheel for all grades, but the low quality caused a rapid "peeling" (covered by the warranty).

Rear passengers . Seating is not perfect, but acceptable - low cushion level above the floor, minimal head over space, front seat back are lined with hard plastic, outstanding longitudinal space, seat backs reclination adjusting, no floor tunnel.


The existence of Korando makes it possible to evaluate three different approaches to the design.
- First - unlimited resources of Toyota - their own design studios around the world, international workers, but Japanese management has fallen into the sin of pride and imagines they have the sense of taste and measure. The result - a mediocre exterior, the monstrous interior, inhuman ergonomics.
- The second - unlimited resources of Hyundai - similar world studios, but under the leadership of the European designers. The result - breakthrough exterior, interesting interior, but everywhere, where the interests of design and ergonomics conflict, the functional convenience sacrificed to exterior.
- Third - in general a poor SsangYong purchased the ready product from the old school professionals. The result - universal decent exterior, nice interior, good ergonomics, taking into account the European human constitution.



VISIBILITY


Front - a good, it has the opportunity to look over the car roofs, the pillars are thick but not critically. Rear - mediocre (wide rear pillars, a relatively small tailgate glass, turned up stern). Side mirrors are not bad, but the inside lets to view only the backseat.


TRUNK


In spite of body shape the luggage compartment is roomy enough by the standards of light-SUV. The rear seats fold separately in a floor flat area, under carpet - a full-size spare wheel.






Engine Displacement, cm3 Bore x Stroke, mm Compression ratio Power output, hp Torque, Nm Configuration Drive Trans.
D20DTF199886.2 x 85.616.5149 / 4000360 / 1500-2800 CRDI + DPF 2WD/4WD6-MT/6-AT
D20DTF199886.2 x 85.616.5175..181 / 4000360 / 2000-3000 CRDI + DPF 2WD/4WD6-MT/6-AT
D22DTF215786.2 x 92.415.5178 / 4000400 / 1400-2800 CRDI + DPF 2WD/4WD6-MT/6-AT
G20DF 199886.0 x 86.010.5149 / 6000197 / 4000 2WD/4WD6-MT/6-AT


D20DTF. The designation of the new transverse diesel differs by only one letter from Kyron / Actyon 2-liter engine with the same cylinder geometry, but difference is large - from fuel system to mechanical. By the way, both are to be considered as own SsangYong projects, without direct prototype of Mercedes.

This is a modern common-rail engine (injection pressure of 180 MPa, VGT, varying the geometry of the intake path, DPF, Euro-5) with not bad performance. Mechanical - DOHC with chain drive (and gears between the camshafts) and hydraulic lash adjusters, balancer mechanism, the oil level sensor in the absence of a pressure sensor (up to MY2014).

It has several advantages. - In the first year of production there was no alternative at all, and gasoline 4WD version was introduced after two years of waiting. - Torque almost twice as much as that of natural aspirated gasoline engine with the same displacement - subjectively car dynamics is very good. Objectively, 0-100 acceleration value is not outstanding, but the thrust reserve at any speed really pleases. - Also there is a pleasant fuel consumption rate but without unnecessary illusions (repair cost, start overpayment, etc.)

On the other hand...
- Even the automatic transmission can not completely smooth out the uneven thrust with an impressive gap (almost up to 2000 rpm) and narrow max torque zone - it is a feeling as if the engine only works in two modes - ON / OFF. How to ride with the mechanical gearbox even hard to imagine.
- In winter, the low efficiency of the heater, traditional for modern diesel engines, is compensated only by electric fan.
- Technical problems, like at any modern common-rail diesel occur, but at first not fatal - the throttle actuator, an excessive fuel in the oil, DPF related defects. Injectors life time, as usually for SsangYong - several years.
- Noise and vibrations. It is impossible to compare D20 with really modern diesels by Hyundai - the engine "tractor" sound is loud outside and even inside before warm-up, and diesel is uniquely identified by vibrations. Each acceleration is accompanied by boring rumble - when the gasoline engine in principle allows phlegmatic driving without exiting to the zone of discomfort rpm, the "on-off" SsangYong diesel does not allow this completely. Perhaps for short weekend trips it is not a problem, but on a daily route home-work-home in erratic traffic - it is a serious drawback. However, the noise at speeds above 3000 will serve as a natural speed limiter during highway ride.
- Transmission For the gearboxes that are aggregated with transverse engines, the value of the transmitted torque is critical, therefore, to expect outstanding durability would be naive. But in this case a huge amount of AT failures even with low mileage surpasses all reasonable limits.

So, diesel is unsuitable because of two flaws, not even directly related to its own construction - insufficient comfort and the inevitable fatal problems in transmission.

Since MY2014 diesel obtained some changes - traditional oil pressure sensor instead of the level sensor, the modified mounts (designed to reduce vibration), no pre-filter at fuel tank, slightly increased output. According to subjective feelings, the noise of the engine became a little quiet (at least, changed his tone), but the next revision of the engine settings is poor - the dynamics obviously deteriorated.


D22DTF. The new engine with increased displacement, which should performs Euro 6, appeared in 2015. Note the slightly increased power output and max torque zone moved to low speed. Among the new solutions - "variable" oil pump, injection pressure increased up to 200 MPa, cumulative NO-converter (LNT) in addition to the traditional DPF.

G20DF. Unfortunately, SsangYong bought only Hyundai's normal transmission but not bought a normal engine, and made his own product, which has no direct prototypes of decent brands.

The engine is a rather strange set of classic and relatively advanced solutions, and the most unexpected element - cast iron block with open deck. The other is more traditional - timing chain drive to both shafts, oil pump chain drive, mono-VVT, DOHC with rockers and hydraulic lash adjusters, dual mass flywheel, multipoint injection, VIS in the intake.

Of course, there is just no dynamics in comparison with diesel version, but the average level of 2-liter gasoline SUV can be achieved. Consumption is not low - at least a few extra liters to our reference Forester.

Some known defects - poor idling control after cold start, annoying chain rattling at start - indecent by modern standards "feature" (because of absence of quality ratchet mechanism in the tensioner), slight fuel leakage because of improper fuel rail installation (and probably it is the main cause of rough idling at warming up). But the really serious problem - the timing chain (stretch and jumping) - is beyond good and evil..




TRANSMISSION


6-AT DSI M11 - aggregated with a diesel engine. Made by not too well-known outside SsangYong community former Australian BTRA company, now the part of Chinese Geely as DSI. It has not common analogues, but the design is close to the "Japanese AT building school"), additional controls - "winter" mode and "manual" mode (limits range of upshift, but allows auto downshift - controlled by a strange mini-joystick at selector or by the buttons on the steering wheel hub).

There was not problems during the test - it has to work actively due to narrow operating range of the engine so "ragged" drive rhythm is caused by engine specs.

But reliability is poor, most likely, for several reasons. - The Australian-Chinese company just started to learn creating multi-gear box for transverse engine - so it is far from Aisin or Jatco (not to mention the known scandals with suppliers of defective components). - Multiple software updates hinted that the AT previously had to work outside the optimum mode (here also note the fight against 1-2 harsh-shifting, which the owners even not consider as defect). - To transmit a high torque for long time without consequences - it is impossible for any modern transverse AT, although if "long" for Toyota means at least 100-120.000 km, for SsangYong it is but a multiple smaller mileage (by the way, looks like the mass driveshafts failures primarily explained by the excessive torque transmitting). - One more reason is non-system - if the russian workers set transmission without proper quantity of fluid charged, or fit the hoses to cooling circuit without removing protective caps (real practice at Vladivostok plant) - even the best unit will break. New AT price - about $10.000 - should be keep in mind by the potential owners of "post-warranty" SsangYong, moreover there are not used/rebuilt or analogues for this endemic gearbox.

6-AT HPT 6F24 - aggregated with a gasoline engine. Made by Hyundai Powertech, better known as A6MF1, installed in Sportage / Tucson 2.4 Additional controls - just "manual" mode. The reliability is much better, although not trouble-free - Hyundai AT are the subject of all modern transmission defects - see out Sportage/Tucson review.

6-AT AW TF-81SC - made by Aisin, installed in 2WD diesel version since 2014.




SUSPENSION


Front - McPherson, rear - multi-link, both mounted on the subframes.

Sure Korando is far from the softness, but it is more comfortable than some popular models (Tucson, RAV4). Minor irregularities are felt, but large are damping enough.

So, the main questions are - not tighten mounting nuts of the front shock absorbers, periodic loosened absorber rod nuts, mounting bearings, stabilizer brackets strength. Few replacements of the sub-frames should be attributed to overly "active" driving.




BRAKES


At first, SsangYong deserves a reprimand for eliminating of essential security options at low grades. From the mid-grade and higher there is a full modern set installed, encrypted as CBS + ABS + EBD + ESP + ABD + ASR + AYC + HBA + ARP + HSA - that is, brakes, anti-lock system, electronic brakeforce distribution, stability system, diflock emulation, traction control, oversteer control, emergency braking, roll-over prevention, uphill start assist. Parking brake - manual, mechanical.

There was not claims to effectiveness during the test. As for reliability - there are not so much the actual defects but causeless trouble codes appear (with fail-safe mode activation). And, like the rest of systems, ESP was also subjected to reprogramming repeatedly.


STEERING


Type of steering depending on the grade: low to mid - hydraulic, mid to top - electric (although at other brands usually electric installed in the cheaper versions). Electric motor located at the top of the steering column (similar Toyota) - so that the good durability of the mechanism is not expected. And it is strongly recommended to check the tightness of tie-rod ends before operation start (as experience shows).

Control - easy and predictable, but the electric power reveal itself by "ignoble" feelings on the steering wheel. Manoeuvrability and turn radius are rather good despite long wheelbase. The front driveshafts are of equal length, so there is not torque-steering.


OFF-ROAD


All-wheel drive - the classic torque-on-demand (similar Toyota ATC): permanent front drive, automatic connection of the rear wheels by multi-plate electromechanical coupling mounted on the rear differential carrier (since 2010 - GKN, since 2014 - BorgWarner).

Additional control - maximum clutch lock mode, ESP OFF mode. Differential locks are emulated by using the brake system. There are some oddities of car electronics although the "LOCK" button by definition is intended to forced coupling engage, under certain conditions it actually turns off the rear-wheel drive, so advanced owners warn - do not try to switch "Lock" mode when you already slipping in place in automatic mode.

By off-road possibilities components:
- The ground clearance. At minimum requirements of the class - 180 mm.
- Geometry. The front overhang is sloped, the rear is short. Exhaust pipes, propeller shaft and not too well-positioned fuel tank is quite vulnerable, but there are not hanging parts underneath (as for RAV4 40, Juke etc.)
- Articulation. Below average - this is Korean "tradition".
- 4WD type. The most common type of the torque-in-demand, efficiency and endurance - similar to analogues. Forced 4WD mode is available, although sometimes works strange.
- Diflock emulation. Effectiveness - not bad, similar to analogues.
- Thrust-weight ratio. Gasoline version - the minimum acceptable, diesel version - not optimum because of "violent" engine character.
- Transmission strength. Normal hydromechanical automatic transmissions, especially with gasoline engine.
Total: definitely better than RAV4, definitely worse than Forester, similar to Sportage / Tuscon.


CLIMATE
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Before restyling low to mid grades was equipped with manual air conditioner, higher grades - with one-zone climate control. The central air vents - fully closable. The control principle is the right - separate automatic for blower speed and airflow direction, but not enough informative - there is no display, round knobs position is not quickly recognized.


After restyling new button controls are less comfortable, and the climate control obtained with the display lost an independent blower auto-mode.



SRS


Modern standard set - two front and two side airbags, two curtains (except low grades with two airbags only - a dubious saving). EuroNCAP crash-test was not performed.



METERS


Low grades combination is simple, but worthy - may be except orange color display wtih temperature and fuel level graphics.


Higher grades have "optitron" meter with a simple trip-computer - rather "beauty".

Sometimes even embarrassing, why Toyota equipped new RAV4 4th generation with such squalor meters, considerably inferior to even a low-end SsangYong.



MEDIA
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Before restyling, since mid grades 2DIN CD/MP3 player was installed (support BT, USB, AUX), at lower grades - without head unit, but that is no reason for grief, but a positive incentive - standard retro-unit also asks for a replacement.


After restyling was installed integrated multimedia system with a large touch-screen, navigation and other modern features.



ELECTRICAL


Mid-grade can be considered as optimal. Among the other, it includes heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, optitron meter, rear parktronic, folding mirrors. After restyling keyless entry and start system was added.

Electrical system is rather complicated - there are too many modern electronics, connected with CAN and BCM (not to mention all the main control unit communication via CAN bus). But usual problems are more down to earth - head light efficiency (up to MY2014), wiper control (intermittent mode), the unreliability of power windows mechanics.


BRAND


SsangYong - is the most modest Korean automaker with a long history and doubtful karma. Since early 1960's to early 1990's SY produced Korean "jeeps" and special vehicles. The partnership with Mercedes-Benz (1991-1997) was crucial for the development of the company. In 1997-2000 SY was a part of Daewoo, but due to the devastation of the group the alliance broken. In 2004-2009 SY was controlled by Chinese SAIC, but the relationship ends in divorce scandal. Since 2010 SY is controlled by the Indians (Mahindra).

The production volume (about 120.000 in 2012, 140.000 in 2014) - the negligible against the background of the total output of passenger cars in Korea (~4.500.000). Over one third of production sold in Korea, about quarter - was exported to main SY overseas market - russian.

Historically, the most valuable vehicle of SY was Istana, became in due time main commercial van in the wild-east part of Russia. Musso and Korando II was also made with the help of Mercedes, but was not so popular or respected. Later models was already the results of the own engineering (Rexton had some rudiments of Mercedes, but Kyron/Actyon were pure amateur). It was not success - as a rule, the owners of such terrible problematic SUVs bought SY once in a life.

The company never had light-cars (FF without frame) production experience, so Korando III became literally the first experience.


QUALITY


Obviously, the "quality" is not taken out of nowhere, but is gradually built up of many individual bricks. As noted above, one of them - the previous positive experience - not exist.

Some questions to technologists appear - fray through hoses, protruding bolts, friction between lights optic and body panels - are indicators of the quality level.

The next - parts. Decent automakers use products of affiliated companies or first rank oem-suppliers, but SsangYong forced to use cheap stuff of second-rate firms - this can be seen by study of the origin of small components.

Normally we try not to hang the label "bad rus-assembly," the more that problems arise with entire Korean units too. But Vladivostok plant deserves the share of blame - phrase "in the factory forgot" became the norm when dealing with the local officials - today is not so much the models need to be "after-sales" service - chassis bolts tightening, all clamps tightening, conditioner refill, transmission refill, and the story of the oil cooler plugs will be remembered for a long time.

At the SsangYong team the best players are traders - at least they realize that unpopular car brand in the stagnant market needs to be foist active and creative.

The insurance cost is even higher than many decent analogues - about $2000 in mid-level company (before war).

Of course, the modesty of SsangYong create difficulties with the service network. Total "loss of connection between generations" occurred - because SY change sequentially already four or five main official distributors, so there is not any advanced professionals in essence. So, at best, have to expect the nook in one of multi-brand workshops and newbie staff.

Next scourge for Korando - "raw" software for all control units - so that firmware updates and codings come out so regularly as some browsers updates. The owners have preferred to think, that a number of software updates points to the "modernity" and the high technical complexity of the model. However, note the technical level of Korando corresponds early 2000s in truth, when the vast majority of cars (Toyota for example) had neither the possibility nor the need for reprogramming. And most of its modern Asian "classmates" require much less "brains" fixes.

Spare parts supply - perhaps the most sad chapter of Korando story. Once again, note: the most important foreign market for SsangYong was russian, the rest export did not show huge growth, and smeared a thin layer all over the world - creating the illusion of SsangYong worldwide presence. Therefore understand the low interest in the model from oem-manufacturers. The question of consumables is gradually solved, but the waiting for supply of even small parts for warranty replacements can be stretched to impossible 2-3 months. Do not forget about the lack of "prototypes", structurally close analogues from other brands and, of course, "second hand" units. Only a small outlet - some details, like the lash adjusters or injectors, borrowed from previous models or gleaned empirically from Hyundai models. For this reason, it is strongly advised to pay attention to the limited warranty terms in the manual. For decent brands the problem in principle can be resolved within a reasonable time by additional cost, but in the case of Korando many components are not not available physically - only for order via officials.

In the current economic situation can be asked global question - "What is SsangYong future? If not tomorrow, then in five years? When his rus-partner once again "optimize" production program?" In any case, the buyer of rare goods must be aware of the risk to left alone with 1.5 tons of "disposable" iron.

Note, SsangYong is good for techno freaks - who like to improve, modify, cut off, paint over, to pick up analogue etc... Its owner with time forced to become one of the most technically advanced owners of new vehicles. Well, is it possible to imagine a completely "herbivore" owner of a new Japanese car, who bends the fuel rail with crow to improve the idling operation? (it is normal for Korando)

Generally, after the observation of the Korando owners, it seems that most of the dissatisfied - are people of a new formation, the former owners of decent cars, decided to "change the quality of life" with new SUV. But the assumption that if the two major Korean brands now are at the quality level of classical Japanese, then the rest will present no surprises - it was wrong. So the rawness of new car, the number of small and big defects, the situation with the maintenance, can be shocking for modern man, who has the right to believe that "warranty" - is not only the elimination of major troubles by the manufacturer, but firstly the period for which initially quality car will not have serious problems at all.

Typical satisfied Korando owners can be divided into two groups. The first - the former owners of lo-end vehicles, for which positive feelings of the radically new level compensate the rest. The second group - aged "rednecks", far from the nuances of the modern automotive industry. It seems for us strange not to distinguish the quality level of Hyundai-Kia / GM-Korea / Samsung / Ssangyong - but for them there are just abstract "Koreans." They live in their own way, without knowing the difference of reliability Renault and Peugeot, Opel and Honda. And they can choose a car by "organoleptic" - and here Korando bribes, because at first met and test drive looks rather attractive for lower cost. "Features" of model and brand they see with amazing humility - "Well, the new model", "well, Koreans had not the experience"... such loyalty sometimes seems like they not bought the cars but received as the gift from SsangYong.


COMPETITION


But Korando is not a gift - the charm of "small tractor" (or its gasoline brother) completely fading away by price list.

Yes, in russia for $30.000+ was sold a lot of trash. But if some brands at least have decent reputation, so what is doing here... Mahindra?! And why even Sportage/Tucson (overvalued, non-ideal, but deservedly popular) at similar grade have the price just few percent higher that SsangYong's... "unfinished job"?


SUMMARY


Korando - is a strange synthesis of good form and mediocre content. As a pure abstraction, it is not bad: - As the corporate or rental car it could be preferred over the many of light-SUVs..

But not as personal transport - when taking into account the ownership cost, maintenance, reliability - everything falls into place. Experience shown that Korando has no one trouble-free modification that could be exploit for a long time without painful costs.

Not bad, if SsangYong some day will improve his debut in light-SUV class. But it is better this training will be pay by someone else.

Buying Korando (by analogy with any Chinese brand car) makes sense when the future is guaranteed, long time ownership is not planned, and $30-35.000 can be write off at any time painlessly. If any of these items are not met, then the car must be not only better initially, but also have the clear prospects of ownership. "We are not rich enough to buy cheap things" ("Buy cheap, buy twice") - exactly about SsangYong.

P.S. (Fall 2015) It seems that the answer to the question above "What is SY future?" will appear soon. Sales in russia have collapsed, the local assembly plant is stopped, the so-called "dealer network" is falling apart, the new cars are component donors for warranty repairs, the prices of spare parts look horrible in the absence of oem-duplicate... In general, we can only congratulate those who overcame the doubts and did NOT become the owner of SsangYong Korando.



Toyota-Club reviews:
Subaru Forester '2009 · Toyota RAV4 '2013 · SsangYong Korando/Actyon · Kia Sportage / Hyundai ix35
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