We live in a world of noise, with our ears regularly filled with everything from far-off sirens to the chatter of birds. As is so often the way, humans need a little noise without being subjected to too much – sensory deprivation and prolonged exposure to white noise are both classed as torture. Of course, that makes us wonder why Little Mix’s music hasn’t been banned yet, but it also leads us to question why some car makers are completely obsessed with bongs.
The odd beep is fine. There’s nothing wrong with a subtle reminder that you’ve left the lights on, but the SsangYong Korando has taken these aural alerts to a new level. If you dare to put the key in the ignition and turn it slightly (a quaint idea, I know), the car bongs until you put your seatbelt on. Even if you haven’t actually switched the engine on. It’s annoying if all you want to do is pair a smartphone before a long drive or find out whether the cricket is on the radio.
Another irritant is the particularly loud indicator click, which sounds like a noisy goldfish opening and closing its mouth right next to your ear. It’s so loud I’m reliably informed it’s audible on hands-free phone calls, making it hard for people at the other end to understand you when you’re sitting at traffic lights. But at least it should help the absent-minded souls who leave their indicator on for miles, wondering why everyone expects them to turn right.
And electronic beeps aren’t the only odd noises the Korando emits. When it’s cold, the 1.6-litre diesel engine feels a little gruff, and the six-speed automatic gearbox makes some odd decisions, selecting too low a gear and causing engine revs to soar, which then makes the gruffness even more apparent.
But that’s the end of my moaning, because the Korando has proved itself a very useful tool for day-to-day life. Not only has it been quite comfortable and economical on long motorway journeys, but it has had to put its off-road talents to good use. With snow already having arrived in northern parts of the country and storms blowing in, I for one have been grateful to have a proper off-roader on the drive. My parents and in-laws both live in my homeland – the hilly bits of northern England – and heading home to visit has been made more difficult by the arrival of cold weather – the Korando has been ace.
We haven’t put it to use in anything too serious, but it has had to haul its way out of a few mudbaths and bump down a few farm tracks. Admittedly, it’s all stuff I’d expect any all-wheel-drive SUV to handle, but the Korando conquered it all effortlessly. The humble 4×4 is a much-maligned beast, but there will always be a space for a proper off-roader in my garage.
Yes, I know they’re less aerodynamic and I know the all-wheel-drive systems do the fuel economy no favours, and I’m painfully aware that we live in a world where Range Rovers no longer take on the Darien Gap, but instead take Darren shopping in Gap. Yet the knowledge that the car that can get me out of the in-laws’ steep and often icy road regardless of the weather is hugely comforting. Nobody can tell me a proper 4×4 with good tyres does not have its uses.