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Driven: New Korando to lead SsangYong growth

Fresh start: The facelifted Korando features a newly styled front-end and subtle changes to the body.

Facelifted SsangYong Korando SUV kicks off aggressive sales push in Australia


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3 Jun 2014

SSANGYONG'S local distributor has kicked off a marketing push in a bid to increase awareness of the South Korean brand in Australia on the back of its facelifted Korando compact SUV.

Ateco Automotive is now full swing into a television advertising campaign for the updated Korando and says the time is right for the brand to win over Australians.

The new Korando, that officially went on sale in May, is a revised version of the second-generation model that arrived in 2011. The updates to the Korando are mainly cosmetic, with a more aggressive face showing off the company's latest design language as well as sleeker headlights and more sharply defined lower intake. Drivetrains of the outgoing model have been carried over with just two variants to choose from. The two-wheel drive Korando S base variant is powered by a 110kW/197Nm four-cylinder 2.0-litre petrol engine, while the four-wheel drive Korando SX uses a 129kW/360Nm four-cylinder 2.0-litre four cylinder turbo-diesel. Both are available with the six-speed automatic transmission as the sole transmission choice.

Pricing is still relatively competitive with the petrol starting from $27,990 driveaway and $32,990 for the diesel. This marks an increase of $2000 over the $25,990 driveaway price of the outgoing S auto, while the SX is also up by $2000 from $30,990.

The price point stacks up well against rivals in this segment such as the Hyundai ix35 which starts from $26,990 excluding on-road costs for the base Active two-wheel drive petrol, and the soon-to-be-replaced Nissan Dualis 2WD ST from $25,990 before on-roads.

The superseded model will continue to be sold in local SsangYong dealerships alongside the updated version until stock runs out.

Although the changes to the Korando are small, the car-maker has big plans for attracting the attention and money of Australian buyers with the compact SUV kicking off a new marketing campaign for the brand. The 15-second commercial on free-to-air television for the Korando has been running since May 18 and will continue through June. But this is just the start with three other ads to follow on digital media, including one for the Stavic people-mover, the Actyon utility range and a 30 second general SsangYong commercial.

The look and sound of the ads is a departure from SsangYong offerings of the past with a cool and upbeat Korean-pop style music video feel to get the message across. The agency behind the ads is BWM with executive creative director Rob Belgiovane at the helm and the tagline is “Boldly Korean”. Speaking exclusively with GoAuto, SsangYong Australia general manager Dinesh Chinnappa said the promotion signals the rebranding of SsangYong’s image, with both Ateco and SsangYong feeling that now was the right time commercially to do this.

“The rebranding of SsangYong was timed to coincide with the relaunch of a fairly substantial facelift of the new Korando – they go hand in hand,” he said.

SsangYong Australia national sales and marketing manager Brent Jewell said that the timing for the marketing push was right, for a number of reasons.

“The first is (parent company) Mahindra and Mahindra started investing in SsangYong in 2010. They invested a lot of money into the business and we’re now starting to see that come through. “Because of that investment there’s been some big improvement to the product itself, you’ve seen the styling has changed a lot there’s new technology so the product is probably now the best it’s been. We’ve invested a heap of time over the last 18 months on a dealer network we now have about 50 dealers – sales and service. Another reason why we think now is a good time is that the model range has increased,” Mr Jewell said.

The decision by the brand to embrace its Korean roots in the commercials was deliberate, with Ateco and SsangYong saying that attitudes towards products from Korea has changed and the nation was now ready.

“Over the last decade there’s a bunch of big Korean brands that have done a lot of heavy lifting for all Korean products across a range of industries,” Mr Jewell said.

“Think about brands like Samsung, LG, Hyundai and Kia. They’ve changed the way people have thought about Korean products and we think today ‘made in Korea’ is synonymous with hi-tech, funky modern design.”

Mr Chinnappa agrees that the company is ready to benefit from the popularity of Korean-made products.

“Think about it. How many Australian households would have a smart TV from Korea, how many pockets have a smart phone from Korea how many drive ways have got a Korean car in them?” “Our thinking is Australia consumers have come to regard Korea as the place to go to if you want hip, happening, quality and latest tech - that’s where you go.”“There’s a bunch of reasons why we think now is a good time” says Jewell, “but Korando was certainly the impetus for it,” Mr Chinnappa said. The first-generation Korando went on sale in 1998 and is currently SsangYong’s second biggest seller after the Stavic people mover. Sales of the Korando are down by 53 per cent for the first four months of this year, with 134 units shifted compared to the 285 cars sold in the same period last year. The resurgent Stavic which arrived mid-way through last year has sold 229 units to the end of April marking a huge improvement over the seven units sold by this time in 2013. Next month the facelifted Rexton mid sized SUV arrives and completes the refreshed SsangYong line-up of four vehicles which also includes the Actyon dual cab utility.

Keep an eye on GoAuto later this week for a road test of the new Korando.2014 SsangYong Korando pricing*
S 2WD (a)$27,990
SX AWD (a)$32,990
*pricing is driveaway

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