SsangYong won’t be a name near the top of a list of manufacturers fleets will be approaching to supply vehicles.
Since 2010, the brand has been under the stewardship of Koelliker, a UK division of the European importer of the vehicles, and its current chief executive is a familiar face in the automotive industry.
Paul Williams has experience of getting Kia established as a serious player in the UK, as well as holding senior positions at other UK importers. He said: “This is more a passenger car with pick-up versatility. It offers refinements that few of our competitors can match.
“SsangYong has a growing reputation for building extremely competent off-road vehicles, and the Korando Sports draws on this pedigree. It’s an honest, reliable and highly-capable vehicle yet extremely well equipped, and pound for pound will outclass many more expensive rivals.”
Steve Gray, marketing and communications director, added: “To be able to launch an all-new model into the UK so soon after the Korando crossover is great news for us and our expanding dealer network, but more importantly for the growing number of motorists who increasingly appreciate the value of the SsangYong brand.
“The price of the new pick-up will be announced at its launch in October and it will be extremely competitive.”
The Korando Sports is actually different from the Korando crossover launched earlier this year, with a body-on-frame construction rather than monocoque.
However, it has double wishbone front suspension and multi-link, coil-spring rear suspension, making it feel more agile on road than typical trucks.
It will be offered with a 155bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine, and standard equipment includes air conditioning, 16-inch alloy wheels and a load liner as well as other features you’d expect to find in a car.
The electronically activated four-wheel drive system uses SsangYong’s own technology with an electro-magnetic clutch ensuring drive is sent to the rear axle when needed.
Off-road, the Korando Sports was up to the task of wading across knee-deep water, up and down steep mounds as well as maintaining traction through muddy ruts.
On road the vehicle was even more surprising, with a level of engine refinement and noise suppression absent from most trucks, as well as surprisingly responsive steering and a composed ride.
Fuel costs are still high with 31.4mpg on the combined cycle, despite the vehicle’s more modest dimensions and carrying ability, but if the price is right, it could well be a cost-effective option for businesses that don’t need a truck with a tonne payload.