Bonus Gallery: The Evolution Of The Ssangyong Korando

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
bonus gallery the evolution of the ssangyong korando

Since Mahindra doesn’t seem to be giving its self-destructed US distribution channel much attention, we couldn’t help but wonder what exactly is more important to the Indian firm than a little PR the world’s second [sigh] largest car market in the world. The answer, of course, is its acquisition of Ssangyong, a South Korean automaker known only to Americans as the maker of the legendarily ugly Rodius (to be fair, regular TTAC readers may also recall Ssangyong’s bid for world’s ugliest bankruptcy declaration). But the meeting point between Ssangyong and Mahindra isn’t styling, it’s diesel and four-wheel-drive.

Despite the fact that Ssangyong is still technically in receivership, there are still 25 dealers selling its products in Australia on the strength of the motto “We Live Diesel,” while Mahindra has 40 diesel-only Australian dealers. Recently Ssangyong revived the nameplate given to its original product, Korando, for a new model that reportedly launches in Australia later this year. Looking at the evolution of the Korando, from original CJ7 clone to the forthcoming model (which reportedly boasts a 174 hp, 337 lb-ft “German-designed” diesel engine, and available FWD or AWD), one can’t help but wonder where Mahindra sees itself going.

The second generation Korando (1996) was styled by the same guy who penned the Rodius. And thus, the awkward years began.

The Korando was updated in 2001. It didn’t help much.

The Mk II Korando is still built by TagAz for the Russian market. Evolution, as you can see has slowed to a crawl.

Ssangyong broke with its Korando roots by replacing the model in 2006 with this monstrosity, known as the Actyon. The trends at Ssangyong towards car-based baby utes, horrendous styling, and ultimately, bankruptcy, were clear by now.

And for good measure, here’s its cousin, the Actyon Sports.

With the exception of the show-car grille and lights, this is said to represent the new Korando that Ssangyong hopes will save its skin. In fact, Mahindra has just announced it will build this and possibly other Ssangyong models in India. And so the evolution of the Korando, from ruggedly handsome to awkwardly geeky to utterly lost, has come full circle to blandly handsome. Or at least that’s the plan…

Ssangyong’s present is still quite uncertain, as evidenced by its malfunctioning website and still-hideous product line. The next new Korando will help break Ssangyong’s rep for eye-watering styling, but it’s not as if mature markets like Australia and the US are desperate for more varieties of generic-looking crossover. Here’s hoping Mahindra keeps to its rugged roots better than Ssangyong did,

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2 of 19 comments
  • Niky Niky on Aug 27, 2010

    No wonder the Kyron drives so nicely. Not a great steer, but it feels solid and the door slams are pretty good. Too bad the styling is just plain frumpy.

  • Geggamoya Geggamoya on Aug 28, 2010

    Russian ski-tourists used to drive Ssangyong Mussos around here.. Looked like a cheap Pajero. Now they drive Land Cruisers, Lexi and Range Rovers. I've seen a Rodius live once in Scotland, it was even more hideous than in pictures if even that's possible.

  • MaintenanceCosts Imagine that... the OEM that doesn't make absurd false claims about "Full Self-Driving" and that doesn't release beta software onto public streets gets better treatment from the regulator.
  • MaintenanceCosts Yes, yes, balance, quick turn-in, working the gears, blah, blah.I'm sorry, none of it is convincing. A 3-series needs two more cylinders than this so that it doesn't sound like a Jetta on $199/month special.
  • MaintenanceCosts Is Stellantis capable of making a product for the American market without embarrassing levels of over-the-top fake machismo?
  • Philip This raises two questions for me:[list=1][*]What happens to all of the chargepoint that we have installed at our homes? Do those all have to be replaced?[/*][*]What happens to all of the billions of dollars from the federal government being spent on non-tesla ports at wal-marts and pilot service centers? [/*][/list=1]
  • FreedMike I didn't know the 318 was made in anything but that ugly hatchback style.