Last April, SsangYong made its official comeback in the Philippine automotive industry under an all-new distributor – SsangYong Berjaya Motor Philippines (SBMP). With their return, the Korean brand introduced 3 vehicles - the Korando, the Tivoli, and the Rodius.
Aesthetically, the 3 SsangYong vehicles can stand up on its own because it possesses a simple yet well designed exterior that could challenge other cars offered in the local market. However, having a nice exterior is not enough to overcome the competition and SsangYong knows this too well. With that, SBMP invited select members of the media to test drive its Big 3 – the Korando, the Tivoli, and the Rodius.
The drive kicked off in SsangYong’s dealership in Quezon Avenue. We hopped on board the Korando compact SUV on the way to Mount Samat in Bataan. The exterior of the Korando is fitted with blacked-out mesh grille, sweptback headlights, LED daytime running lights, and a large front bumper. The rear, on the other hand, is equipped with distinctive taillights, a wide tailgate, dual exhaust pipes, and a tailgate-mounted spoiler.
Inside, the Korando has a simple yet elegant interior. It has soft-touch materials and splashes of silver and glossy black trims. The wood veneer on the dashboard gave the vehicle’s interior a more distinct look.
In terms of performance, this Korean compact SUV surprised us with its power and torque pull. It is equipped with a 2.0L CRDi diesel engine that produces 149 hp and 360 Nm of torque. With this, the Korando delivered responsive power and shifts smoothly around the 2,000 rpm mark. Overtaking slower vehicles is also done with ease. As for the suspension, the Korando can handle the country’s dilapidated roads decently. It also has good NVH (noise, vibration, and harshness) as road noise is reduced to a minimum but, the Korando’s brakes is a bit spongy.
After driving the Korando, SsangYong handed us the keys of the Rodius MPV. At first glance, one can’t help but notice the Rodius’ large body. Same with the Korando, this MPV is designed with a simple yet bold exterior as seen on its sharp-looking headlights, wide grille, and prominent front bumper. Turning at the side, the Rodius is characterized by straight character lines as well as wide wheel arches while the wraparound taillights give the Rodius an aggressive demeanor.
But, it’s the interior that makes the Rodius stand out. The 7-seater variant of this MPV has a spacious cabin, making it an ideal family car. On the other hand, the vehicle’s instrument cluster is placed at the center of the dashboard. While there is nothing wrong about this design, we wished that SsangYong placed it in its usual position, behind the steering wheel.
Under the hood, a 155 hp 2.0L diesel engine powers the Rodius. On the road, the Rodius is agile despite its size. It also has a light steering, which came in handy when we were driving through provincial roads. The Rodius’ engine shifts smoothly with relatively minimum lag. It delivered decent power but you have to take note that we were only 3 persons inside the Rodius. It would be nice if we could test the Rodius with 7 occupants on board.
On the way back to Manila, SsangYong assigned us to drive the Tivoli. Exterior-wise, the Tivoli has a boxy body with a touch of sportiness. It has an aggressive fascia with a matte black lower cladding and muscular wheel arches. The rear comes with wraparound taillights, a roof-mounted spoiler, and a large bumper.
The interior of the Tivoli comes with a two-tone theme of red and black. It features a flat-bottomed steering wheel, a 7-inch touchscreen, and an automatic climate control. The instrument cluster has a white-on-black meter for easy readability. Overall, the Tivoli’s interior has a youthful vibe, which hints that SsangYong is pitting this crossover to attract young professionals.
The Tivoli is powered by a 1.6L gasoline engine that puts out 128 hp and 160 Nm of torque. It delivered decent power but, when you step on the gas pedal, it takes a second or two before the engine reacts. However, when it does, the Tivoli makes up for it by giving you ample power. In terms of ride comfort, SsangYong’s crossover managed to absorb uneven road surface within reason. It also has a responsive steering and good ergonomics.
SBMP managing director David Macasadia said that “SsangYong has been known for its resiliency over the years…[and] has evolved into a brand that dares to be different.” With its Big 3 (the Korando, the Rodius, and the Tivoli) SsangYong has a solid model lineup that could cement its comeback in the Philippine automotive industry.