KGM Torres EV first drive: we give you the Torres, straight

Dean Evans
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Torres comes in turbo-petrol and full electric.

SsangYong is now KGM. That's the key message with the launch of the new models from the Korean car-maker, the Torres and Torres EVX, a two-model brand launch that joins the existing SsangYong models as they phase out over the coming months, and highlights a range of new models coming from the new brand, including an EV ute and an SUV coupe.

KGM Torres
The brand formerly known as SsangYong is now KGM. Cue lights.

Unveiled in Auckland CBD this week by a team including new Inchcape GM Kym Mellow and KGM A-Pac MD, Mr Byung-Hun Woo, the medium sized Torres SUV comes in two models, and three variants. It starts with the $49,990 front-wheel drive petrol 1.5 turbo four; a $5k premium buys the Torres AWD (arriving in May), and other extras such as leather, while a full EV model, the EVX (for EV Xperience), is front-drive and lands with an introductory price of $66,990 for the first 40 units, then bumps up another $1k. There is a five-year/150,000km warranty.

KGM has also partnered with NZ's EVnex to offer a home charger under $3k, plus fitting, as the EVX lacks a portable three-pin charger. KGM does, however, include a V2L adaptor, which converts the EVX's charging plus into a three-pin power socket - resulting in a way to draw power out via a three-pin, but not a way to put it back in.

With KGM handled by Inchcape, it was careful to differentiate KGM from its other brands, Subaru and LDV, and the whole K-culture influence helps establish its own identity, using K-auto, K-pop and a love for K-everything, along the likes of Samsung, LG and "two other" Korean auto brands. The idea is called Hallyu (Hal-u): culture first, economics second, capitalising on the likes of music, drama, film, food and beauty. Think Squid Game in a car... at least the reach and popularity aspect (definitely not the killing part). To quote KGM: "to bring the vibe of K-culture to NZ streets".

KGM Torres.
Plenty of influence from other makers in Torres design, but it looks good.

With 70 years of history since 1954, on sale in 126 countries and 55,000 vehicles sold in overseas markets, the switch from SsangYong to KGM, acquired by the KG Group in 2022 as a 61 per cent shareholder, the renamed KG Motoring restarts and rebuilds with an all-new brand, while retaining the SsangYong badge, using purple as the accent colour, with 12 (of the 19 SsangYong) dealerships switching over to the new signage.

KGM Torres

The 2WD petrol Torres arrives in May with a 1.5 petrol four-cylinder producing 120kW. The 4WD version engages the rear wheels when it senses front-wheel slip.

KG Torres.
Front-drive petrol Torres is still two months away.

The sales split is expected to be around 60:40 FWD/AWD. There weren't any petrol models for us to experience and drive, so we'll cover those off in detail when they arrive over the next few months.

KGM Torres EV

For launch, the Torres EVX got the full focus of our attention, with a mix of styling, quite overtly offered by KGM, including the Jeep front, hints of Hyundai, Ford Explorer and Land Rover Defender at the rear. Even the rear hatch handle is robust and Land Cruiser-like, with a touch pad behind it that lifts the tailgate up, rather than swinging sideways, as the handle design suggests.

KGM Torres.
A rugged look, but plenty of new tech in Torres.

It's a good looking car, rugged and brutish with bulges and muscles in the right areas with futuristic lights and striking, strong body lines. It does grab attention, and uses four key attributes of tech, space, design and quality.

The whole K-culture influence helps KGM establish its own identity, using K-auto, K-pop and a love for K-everything.

All the usual expected mods-cons are there: CarPlay, radar cruise control, climate control, lane-change assist (that has its overly aggressive moments), rear collision and cross-traffic assist, touchscreen, though there are some features that could be a bit more readily accessed, such as the drive modes between Eco and Sport, that needs to be accessed via swiping the touchscreen, when convention is a simple button - it's not without its clunks. There are paddles for adjusting battery regen, which is great, and acts like a proxy one-pedal mode.

KGM Torres.
State of the art interior, although that steering wheel badge looks familiar.

There's even a mode where the AC can remain on, when the car's parked, to keep pets cool.

Zero to 100km/h happens in 8.1 seconds, which feels fast enough without being annoying, similar to the likes of a VW ID.4. The battery is a 74.3kWh BYD Blade, that offers 462km and a 10 year/million km warranty.

While the petrol Torres sits on 18in wheels, the EVX gets big 20in alloys which look great, but can often hurt ride quality: KGM has managed this potential issue with suspension on the softer side, which is complaint around typical NZ roads, and while there is some body roll at speed, it's all rather occupant-friendly, serving up a comfy, cushy ride for normal use.

KGM Torres.
Rear-seat space is generous, with USB-C ports provided.

No complaints about space or seating in front or rear, with front heated and cooled seats in EVX, and the rear heated seats also offering a pair of USB-C ports and some small storage shelves. There are also curious coathooks on the rear of the front seat headrests, that could also act as a phone/tablet holder.

At 4700mm it's around 100mm longer than a RAV4, 15mm longer than even a Hyundai Santa Fe, while targeted at the likes of Honda CR-V, Kia Sportage, Tucson, and even Polestar and Tesla Model Y. And at 1720mm, the Torres is also taller than most of them.

KGM Torres.
Boot is massive, with recessed pockets and underfloor storage.

In the boot, there's a massive 800+ litres of space with the seats raised, double that with the seats stowed, and recessed pockets either side and under the false floor for things that like to roll around.

With just a 50km introductory drive, initial drive impressions of the EVX are positive, with a solid drive package, though a glaring irritation was the coffee break reminder beeping relentlessly and unable to easily find a way to mute it.


KGM Torres.
Twin screens dominate the dashboard.

The lane-change assist can be overly eager at times, but we were on country roads, rather than the motorways this tech is best for, so we'll forgive that, along with its relative ease of deactivating via the touchscreen... the screen has its good and average points, such as its swipe-down for settings, swipe left for AC controls, but using CarPlay, for example disable some functions without winding back through the menu. There could be a few more tactile buttons for often-used functions to help keep the focus on driving, such as climate temperature.

We'll reserve full judgement for when we get some more miles done, but for now, KGM Torres EVX is impressive and a promising way to launch the new brand.

KGM Torres.
We haven't driven the petrol yet, but the pure-electric EVX is an impressive introduction.

Just don't crash one yet: not for the safety, but the perception, as while Mr Woo stated the car has been fitted with all the features to meet a five-star rating, higher in fact than Korean cars, who seem to value crash safety less, the Torres has not undergone any independent crash testing at this stage, and will unlikley even be considered for ANCAP crash testing until its Australian launch in June. Then a decision will be made if it will be tested, given it's not mandatory.

The future for KGM

With a Torres pick-up and a Torres coupe out within the coming year, and a hybrid in the works, the brand change for its other models such as Rhino/Musso, Rexton, and the change from SPR to Sachi for its premium models, there are high aspirations from the typically bullish Koreans: SsangYong sold 517 cars in 2023, and Mr Woo stated that he'd like to see 2000 annual NZ sales, which did raise a few nervous laughs among both staff and guests.

Welcome to New Zealand, KGM and Torres. The Torres EVX provides the foundation for a good start.


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