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by Tim Beissmann

SsangYong Australia is hopeful of launching a petrol-powered version of its Korando small SUV before the end of 2012.

The SsangYong Korando petrol is currently on display at the Geneva motor show. SsangYong is yet to reveal the 2.0-litre naturally aspirated unit’s power and torque figures, but has confirmed the front-wheel-drive six-speed manual model will produce 175g/km CO2 and the all-wheel-drive 192g/km.

That translates to approximate fuel consumption of 7.4 litres per 100km and 8.1L/100km respectively, which promises to put the Korando petrol among the leaders in the small SUV class.

SsangYong Australia managing director Jeff Barber told CarAdvice the Korando petrol could hit local showrooms in the final quarter of this year, but admitted its 2012 arrival was still not yet 100 per cent locked down.

When it arrives, the Korando petrol will be SsangYong Australia’s first petrol model in years. The brand adopted an audacious diesel-only strategy in 2008, but signalled its intentions to move away from the hard-line stance late last year when it changed its slogan from ‘We live diesel’ to ‘A lot of car, a little price’.

The Korando petrol was unveiled alongside a more efficient Korando diesel model. The 110kW 2.0-litre engine emits as little as 147g/km CO2, approximately translating to average fuel consumption of 5.5L/100km.

The cleaner diesel engine will be available in other markets from midyear, but Barber said it was not under consideration for our market, as it has been developed primarily to meet Europe’s stricter emissions standards. He confirmed Australia’s Korando diesel would continue with its more powerful 129kW 2.0-litre unit, which uses marginally more fuel (6.1L/100km in 2WD manual form).

The cars at Geneva feature very subtle changes to the grille and windscreen wipers, while inside there are new panels with a carbon-look finish, high-gloss switchgear and LED instrument cluster illumination. SsangYong’s engineers have also revised the gearing and added new engine casing to reduce diesel engine noise and improve overall NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) levels.

Barber said SsangYong Australia was currently assessing the updates for our market, but could not give firm timing on when they would arrive.

Ssangyong sold 623 Korandos in Australia in 2011 following its launch in February. It was by far the brand’s most popular model, accounting for 39 per cent of total sales, and has increased that share to 46 per cent so far in 2012.

The SsangYong Korando was joined at the Geneva motor show by the all-new SsangYong Actyon Sports ute, which launches in Australia on March 21. The efficient diesel-powered ute is expected to use as little as 7.4L/100km on the combined cycle.