As impressive as the stylish new SsangYong Korando is from the outside, the real surprise sits unseen under the bonnet.

For the big, refined spacious sports utility vehicle combines serious towing capacity with a comfortable ride and agile handling.

And all this with a 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine that produces 136 horsepower and offers the prospect of fuel economy in the 40-50mpg range, while also meeting latest European emissions regulations.

I tried a couple of versions of the new model on roads around West Oxfordshire and Warwickshire following its UK launch this week at Blenheim Palace and the stand-out feature of both was the quiet, composed ride.

Even when pushing along on country roads, body roll is well controlled delivering a thoroughly calm and collected feel.

But while it looks good, is well made and has plenty of technology on board, the fourth-generation Korando is all about practicality and its starring role is as a towing vehicle.

With prices starting at about £20,000, its two-tonne towing capacity is bound to attract interest from caravanners and other folk towing heavy loads.

Far from the big-but-basic vehicle expected, SsangYong has clearly raised the bar with a generously equipped, well-constructed model that is covered by a comprehensive seven-year/150,000-mile warranty.

All models have an infotainment system that includes DAB radio, Bluetooth and MP3 connectivity, while Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come with the middle and top specification versions, as does a rear-view reversing camera. Everything is displayed on either a nine-inch screen with Tom Tom navigation on top models or an eight-inch screen on mid specification models.

As its name suggests, the top-of-the-range Ultimate version with four-wheel-drive comes with everything from soft leather seats, dual-zone air conditioning and a range of advanced safety equipment, to 19-inch diamond cut alloy wheels, smart keyless start, rear privacy glass, LED headlights, full digital instruments and a power-operated tailgate.

The mid-specification Pioneer, which is expected to be a favourite with the caravan and towing market, comes with automatic transmission, in both two- and four-wheel-drive. Inside, the seats – heated at the front – are trimmed in a combination of faux leather and fabric and it comes with front and rear parking sensors, a heated steering wheel, an eight-inch touchscreen and a rear-view camera.

Riding on 17-inch alloy wheels, there is even a full-size spare wheel sitting under the boot floor, something of a rarity these days.

At present the Korando is being sold with a six-speed automatic transmission with selectable drive modes. Normal mode is used for day-to-day driving and balances the need for fuel economy and power. Sport mode delivers extra power, while Winter mode starts the car in second gear to minimise tyre slippage on icy roads. Non-4x4 models come with an auto-stop system to save fuel and lower carbon dioxide emissions.

Manual versions are due to arrive in the UK early next year and later this year a 163 horsepower 1.5 GDI-turbo petrol engine will be added to the Korando range.

Nick Laird, managing director at SsangYong Motors, said: “SsangYong is Korea’s third largest SUV brand and has over 60 years’ experience of making refreshingly different cars.

“Along the way, we’ve learnt a thing or two about what customers really need. So instead of wasting money on marketing gimmicks or add-ons, we offer a full range of truly refined and high-spec SUVs that absolutely deliver on the road.”

Auto facts

Model: SsangYong Korando Ultimate 4x4 (Auto)

Price: £31,995

Insurance group: TBC. Expected 26 (1-50)

Fuel consumption (combined): 43.5mpg

Top speed: 112mph

Length: 445cm/174.7in

Width: 187cm/73.4in

Luggage capacity: 551 litres/19.4 cu ft

Fuel tank capacity: 10.3 gallons/47 litres

CO2 emissions: 170g/km

Warranty: Seven years/ 150,000 miles