Driving SsangYong’s first full electric Korando
Hard times for Korea’s oldest carmaker, SsangYong, struggling to survive on the edge of bankruptcy, but with new hope with Korean electric bus maker Edison Motors as a new foster parent. Electric will be the future, and the Korando is the first, but probably also the last on this platform. We drove it, and our first impression is you get reasonably bang for your buck.
With a powerful 140 kW/190 pk electric engine, the Korando e-Motion is without doubt quite more agile than its diesel or gasoline siblings. Yet, the modest 61,5 kWh battery pack avoids adding too much weight and settles with a reasonable range of 339 km (WLTP). Prices start at €38 990 in Belgium.
No dedicated EV platform yet
It’s not a new SsangYong on a dedicated EV platform yet, but rather the two-year-old Korando that got an electric make-over by Indian parent company Mahindra. It uses the Mahindra Electric Scalable Modular Architecture (MESMA), a made-in-India electric platform suitable for electrifying any existing ICE vehicle to electric.
Externally, the differences with the ICE Korandos are minimal: a closed nose as a cooling radiator is no longer needed, blue accents on the mirrors, in the headlights, and on the back, and redesigned bumpers fore and aft. That blue you’ll also find in accents on the interior, on the steering wheel buttons, and the striping on the dashboard and doors.
Quite a classic interior
The interior is classic like in the other Korandos, with a 12,3-inch full digital cluster and a smaller 8-inch navigation screen that simultaneously links to the latter for passing information to the driver. Good points for the standard Apple CarPlay and Google Auto and a better TomTom navigation system, adding a lot of modern digital comfort.
There is little that catches the eye, at first sight, to distinguish this e-Motion to be electric, except for the blue accents. The gear lever has the usual Reverse, Neutral, and Drive indications as a standard automatic. There is a Drive Mode bottom on the console to let you choose between eco-driving, comfort, and power modes.
Little regenerative braking
Buttons on the rear of the steering wheel allow you to set the amount of regenerative braking, but to be honest, the impact is relatively low to be felt when taking your foot off the accelerator. It’s not the real ‘one-pedal’ driving other EVs feature today.
Like all EVs, the Korando e-Motion can act agile and swift when you push that accelerator with maximum torque of 360 Nm available right from the start. The top speed is limited to 156 km to avoid excessive energy consumption, as the range is only 339 km in ideal conditions with the 61,5 kWh battery.
Charging at 50 kW DC
On the other hand, that medium-sized battery allows for comfortable charging at home in 11 hours on a wall box with the built-in 6,6 kW AC charger. But all versions – Bronze, Platinum, and Titanium – also have a 50 kW DC charger that allows charging from 20 up to 80% in about 54 minutes on a fast charger.
We experienced an average consumption of between 18 and 22 kWh/100 km on our short test drive along winding country roads mostly, which is quite reasonable compared to other EVs. On paper, the e-Motion consumes on average 16,8 kWh /100 km (WLTP).
Quieter than diesel car
SsangYong says its e-Motion is quieter than its diesel or gasoline siblings, which is true to a certain extend. You can hear the electric engine humming quite well if the wind and tire noise isn’t too loud. There are EVs with better sound insolation out there on the roads, and this can be a comfort factor for the EV driver too.
Speaking of comfort, there is little to complain about, as the Korando comes well equipped, even in the basic version at €38 990. Most modern advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) are standard, like adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, active lane assistance, traffic sign recognition, etc.
Heat pump standard
A distinctive plus is the heat pump that comes standard on every version, which allows you to warm up the interior without committing an assault on your battery capacity and range. In the premium version (€43 090), you can have heated and ventilated full leather seats.
Like the rest of the onboard dash systems and lights, they’re connected to the 12V-battery, so they won’t drain your driving battery either, sparing you extended range anxiety.
Sharpest Korando you can get
So, finally, what’s the verdict on SsangYong’s first EV? If you can live with the traditional shortcomings of an ICE design converted to electric, like a bumpy suspension and vague steering feeling, and the shorter range, you’ll have the sharpest and best equipped Korando you can get at a price starting where the luxury version of the diesel-powered peer ends.
Compared to other EVs in its size, like the Skoda Enyaq or VW ID.4, or a Hyundai Ioniq 5 or Kia EV6, the Korando is by far the most classic looking but offers most of the same features at a price on the slightly lower edge.
But the difference with the others, which are designed as an EV from the bottom up, is evident in missing features that EV drivers start to appreciate, like connected software apps that allow to warm up the car or manage to charge remotely, to name just a few. Another drawback is it misses the substantial back seat legroom the other EVs built on a dedicated platform generally feature.
For SsangYong, it’s now waiting to get its rescue by Edison Motors approved by the bankruptcy authorities in Korea and see what the electric bus maker can bring in for the next generation of EVs the carmaker envisions.