2022 SsangYong Korando e-Motion review

Now under stable Korean ownership, SsangYong is set to release new electric models, kicking off with Korando e-Motion.

Peter Louisson
Peter Louisson
Senior Editor NZ Autocar magazine

Now under stable Korean ownership, SsangYong is set to release new electric models, kicking off with Korando e-Motion.

Another month, another new EV, in this instance SsangYong’s first zero-emissions offering known as Korando e-Motion. Does it get the senses tingling or is it just tyred and emotional?

First, a bit about the company itself, which has just exited receivership, having been bought by KG Group, a Korean concern. Rumour has it that the company will drop the SsangYong tag and is set to be renamed anew. Radical stuff. Previously, it had been under the wing of Mahindra and Mahindra since 2010 but its products didn’t sell well in India so it was cast adrift in 2021. A recent attempt by Korean EV start-up, Edison Motors, failed in the second quarter of 2022 and KG Group stepped in directly to give SsangYong stability while in the midst of an electric transformation.

The Korando (short for Korean Can Do) e-Motion is the first product from the company in renewal. It’s not quite the cheapest EV available here, and nor has it the biggest battery or the longest range in the small-medium SUV sector. Its closest competition comes in the form of the Atto 3 Extended model, which is now $59,990, up $2k since its launch just a few months ago. Coincidentally or otherwise, the Korando e-Motion costs the same amount, and also qualifies for the same $8625 government rebate.

A comparison of the pair is interesting, at least at the brass tacks level. Each has a single motor driving the front wheels, the BYD’s a 150kW/310Nm example while the e-Motion’s makes slightly less power at 140kW but offers 50Nm more torque at 360Nm. Their battery sizes are virtually line-ball as well, the BYD example being 60kWh, while that of the SsangYong is 61.5kWh, sourced from LG Chem. The latter use lithium-ion chemistry, while the former is a lithium-iron-phosphate design. The BYD has a WLTP rated 420km per charge versus 339km for the SsangYong. The former is built on a dedicated EV platform, whereas the SsangYong uses the same underpinnings as its combustion engine relatives. Styling of the e-Motion is more or less the Korando same too, the EV distinguished by its blue highlights (mirror caps, rear diffuser, dashboard upper) and a closed off aero-friendly grille. The 17-inch alloys are also restyled for less wind interaction. A pity they look meh. Lights either end are also different from those of the ICE-power Korandos but only the foglights are LEDs.
Where the BYD looks somewhat futuristic, especially the interior with plastic dash folds that supposedly resemble muscle sinew, and it has a diminutive motorcycle-like instrument for primary driver info, the Korando EV is much more straightforward. Presumably they weren’t able to raid the R&D coffers quite like BYD could. And in some ways that’s a good thing. Acclimation in the Atto 3 can take quite some time – try working out how to retrip the odo within a minute or two, for instance – whereas finding your way around the e-Motion is rather more straightforward; ease of operation is more intuitive, less distracting. We quite like the blue interior highlights too, like in the seat stitching and across aspects of the dash. There’s no artificial leather trim here, just textile coverings for the manually adjusted seats, although you do get a couple of seat heaters. Schlep into the rear pews and these are surprisingly generous, with two different seat back angles, and loads of leg- and headroom. Boot space is a pleasing 551L (Atto 440L), only there’s no powered boot lid like on the BYD and the floor looks insubstantial. Split folding is a two-tier affair. The sizeable nature of the e-Motion is in part a reflection of the fact it’s over 4.5m in length.

Can it compete with the likes of the BYD on the critical areas then? It’s closer than you might think. Despite similar sized battery packs, the e-Motion doesn’t have quite the range of the Atto 3, though for townies that’s not such an issue. A recharge from 20-80 per cent will take just under an hour on a 50kW fast charger, by the by, about what you’d expect. In terms of energy use, they’re on a par as both weigh about the same, 1750kg odd. We found averages of 15-20kWh much of the time, depending on speed, but up into the 30s when letting rip.

The e-Motion isn’t quite as quick as the Atto 3, both performance parameters half a second adrift of the BYD. In its default Comfort mode it isn’t quite as peppy either, though will spin up the fronts if pushed. It is really rather spicy in Sport mode but the Eco setting you’d only use in town. Most will leave it in Comfort we’d imagine.
We reckon it bests the Atto 3 in a few key areas. The low speed synthetic whine (aka the pedestrian warning sound) isn’t as marked, the brakes have a bit more bite at the pedal, and we like that it has three levels of brake regeneration, all of which work really well via the wheel-mounted paddles. Atto 3 has only high and low settings, the high not quite strong enough. By contrast, the e-Motion on its top setting really slows the vehicle quite well, easily allowing single-pedal driving for the majority of the time, requiring brakes only for a full stop at traffic lights.
There’s one other area it scores well in too and that’s ride quality, in part at the expense of on-the-limit handling. Round town it is more absorbent over choppy surfaces. Atto 3

is a bit more controlling on country roads, not that there’s much in it.

On the safety front, the SsangYong has a five-star EuroNCAP crash rating and the petrol variants received a similar assessment in 2019 from ANCAP. Atto 3 has just been crash tested in Australia and passed five-star muster.

We like that it’s simple to nix the lane keeping in the e-Motion, not such an easy task in Atto 3. The Korando has a few different screen presentations you can scroll through. We flipped between two because one has traffic sign recognition, another instantaneous energy use. We used mainly the former.

Standard fit are Qi charger, steering wheel heater, adaptive cruise, privacy glass, hill descent, auto hold, keyless entry and push button stop/start by your left knee. There’s no nav but Apple CarPlay is present along with dual zone air and parking sensors each end.

Given the trials and tribulations that SsangYong has been through in the past decade, it’s almost a surprise to see its first EV get to production. And that it fares quite well, the generous room a bonus for many.
Now that it is under the umbrella of a major Korean industrial conglomerate, known for turning around companies in difficulty, SsangYong can look forward to getting on with its transformation to a brand delivering cost-effective zero emissions vehicles. Consider the Korando e-Motion a taste of what’s to come.

ModelSsangYong Korando

Clean Car DiscountRebate – $8625
Motorsingle, 140kW/360Nm
Battery61.5kWh net
Range339km (WLTP)
Drivetrainsingle-speed auto, FWD
Energy Use16.8kWh/100km
C02 Output0g/km
80-120km/h5.50sec (158m)
Stability systemsABS, ESP

Luggage capacity551-1248L
Tow rating500kg (1500kg braked)
Service intervals12 months, 15,000km
Scheduled servicing$120
Warranty5yrs, 100,000km
ANCAP ratingnot yet rated
Weight1756kg (claimed)
This article was originally published on autocar.co.nz
Peter Louisson
Peter Louisson
Senior Editor NZ Autocar magazine - autocar.co.nz

Peter has been a motoring writer for more than three decades. The first car launch he attended was in 1988, and he’s literally lost count of the number of vehicles he has tested in that time, but it registers in the thousands. And then there is his love of two wheels as the resident motorcycle road tester for the magazine.