SsangYong is on a roll. Buoyed by a steady stream of new, modern products to replace the staid vehicles it relied on for way too long, the Korean 4×4 specialist started this year by celebrating overall success in our 4×4 of the Year awards with the new Rexton.

Based on the same platform as the Rexton, with the same engine and choice of gearboxes and very similar cabin, the new Musso is a quantum leap forward from the model currently being sold under the same name.

We’ve had an early test, on British roads, of a Korean-spec Musso. Aside from the fact that it’s left-hand drive, the only difference between this and the one coming to Britain is in the details, so this is a good indication of what’s on the way.

Starting in the cabin, the Rexton’s influence is clear. There’s even a strip of leather across the dashboard, complete with contrasting stitching.

Elsewhere, materials remain high-quality by pick-up standards, with soft-touch surfaces on much of the dash and excellent leather seats which managed to be both soft and comfy yet impressively supportive. They put you in a good driving position, too, from which your view all around is particularly fine – even over your shoulder, thanks to a C-post that’s no bigger than it needs to be.

There’s plenty of headroom, too, and enough leg room to let a six-footer drive without needing to move his seat all the way back. This is handy if there’s another six-footer sat behind, because the seat-backs have no give in them at all – but the good news is that aside from the Ford Ranger, we think the Musso probably has the most rear knee room in the double-cab market. It’s possible for two tall adults to ride in tandem without either feeling the squeeze, and there’s not a lot of trucks we can say that about. All-round, few double-cabs can match it for accommodation.

There’s a decent amount of oddment stowage, too, and overall build quality appears close to that of the Rexton. As does the equipment you get for your money – we’ll leave the specifics out, as UK models will likely differ from this one, but there’ll be a range of three trim levels and at the top, you’ll get a truly premium level of kit. As an indication, the vehicle here had stuff like air-conditioned seats and a heated steering wheel.

It also had 20” polished rims, complete with 255/50R20 tyres, which are pretty much the exact opposite of what we like to see on pick-ups. But if the Musso range is going to mirror that of the Rexton, this is what top models will come with.

One definite difference to the Rexton is that whereas that vehicle comes with independent rear suspension on AWD models, all Mussos have a live rear axle. This is coil-sprung, which remains a rarity in the pick-up market.

You also get a part-time, dual-range transfer case as standard, mated to a choice of six-speed manual or auto gearboxes. This all goes together to make what looks on paper like a well sorted vehicle for on and off-road use.

Starting with the latter, we found that the limits were definitely set by the low-profile, road-pattern tyres. No surprise there – but what was very pleasing to note was that when pushed, the rear axle displays excellent articulation, particularly on the bump stroke. A rather low rear bumper, coupled with the inevitable long overhang, means there’s an element of vulnerability back there, but based on the limited amount we were able to do on this early drive the suspension is unusually good at following the terrain.

What the coil springs can’t do is hide the fact that they’re specced to hold up a tonne. Inevitably, this means the suspension is upset by all but the smoothest roads – though while there certainly is plenty of thumping, even in sharp-edged pot-holes the impacts are never harsh. The body does get jolted around a fair bit at lower speeds on uneven urban roads, but once you get it moving things are a lot more settled. We haven’t yet had the chance to drive the Musso at cruising speeds, but at this stage’s we’d say the results are promising for a composed motorway ride.

We haven’t been able to tow with the vehicle yet, but SsangYong advises us that it will be rated to haul 3500kg (3200 with the manual box) while also carrying 1050kg of cargo. At the time of writing, the testing and approval process was still underway, but the company believes this will give it the highest gross train weight in the market.

It certainly has the brakes for the job, as we found out when a driver in the employ of a very well known courier company lost control of his 7.5-tonner while coming towards us round a corner. And while an unladen test can only tell you so much, the engine does pull strongly – 181bhp is backed up by 295lbf.ft at 1400rpm in manual form, and 310lbf.ft at 1600rpm in autos. It raises its voice when your foot goes right down, but is quiet enough not to cause a disturbance at higher speeds. Again, though, we can’t yet comment on motorway cruising.

What we can say is that from this first, brief look, the Musso does appear to do a good job of taking the good stuff from the Rexton and applying it to the pick-up market. It’s solid, spacious inside and, without rewriting the rules, represents a quantum leap forward from the truck it will replace, vaulting SsangYong from the bottom of the one-tonne pile to a position in which it can compete on a level footing with the rest of the pack.

It also comes with a five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty, and with running costs mattering so much to most people that could go a long way to convincing some buyers. So too could prices which SsangYong says will start at less than £20,000 plus VAT – these are yet to be confirmed, as has the exact spec of the three-strong UK range. But it’s clear that value for money will continue to be a key part of the proposition.

Weigh all that up against fuel consumption and emissions of 35.8mpg and 211g/km (32.8 and 226 auto), and residuals which will likely be on the weak side, and you have a number of questions to ask yourself. By no means are they clear cut, though – and for the first time in the UK pick-up market, SsangYong certainly does have an answer.

SsangYong have shown their e-SIV concept in Switzerland. The SUV is the fifth electric concept SsangYong have produced, and aims to combine efficiency, driving capability and an advanced approach to connectivity.

e-SIV stands for ‘electronic smart interface vehicle’, and the interior is aimed at ‘busy people’ and works with modern technology to become a ‘mobile communication space’. This will be achieved via a learning voice recognition system, internet connectivity and autonomous driving ability.

 

Aspects ranging from charging, infotainment and in emergency conditions even driving the vehicle could be controlled via a smartphone app.

The e-SIV would have a cruising range of up to 450km, and charging will take the battery from flat to 80% in fifty minutes.

The new SsangYong Musso pick-up has been revealed at the Geneva Motor Show.

The Korean marque’s rugged new pick-up has a body-on-frame assembly and is built on the same platform as their current Rexton – which won our 4×4 Of The Year title.

It also has SsangYong’s e-XDi220 2.2-litre diesel with 181bhp and 309lbf.ft – that has already impressed us in the Rexton and the smaller Korando. It gets the choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmissions, and part-time all-wheel drive comes as standard. So too does high and low ratio boxes, promising off-road prowess akin to that of the Rexton.

Eight-point body mounts and wheel-arch linings are in place to add sophistication to the pick-up, making the cabin quieter and more comfortable. Bluetooth and DAB radio are present across the range, whilst an 8″ infotainment screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and wi-fi mirroring are available on higher spec models.

The pick-up bed is sized to carry a Euro pallet, and houses 12V/120W power outlets, plus rotating hooks to help when strapping cargo down.

The manual can tow a braked trailer of 2,800kg, whilst the automatic can tow 200kg more, and both can haul an unbraked trailer of 750kg.

Specifications for the UK are yet to be announced, but the new Musso is expected to go on sale this summer.

 

Despite the fact the Mecca of motoring doesn’t start until next week, manufacturers have been teasing a mix of pictures, specs and new releases already. Here’s a list of what to look out for.

Honda 

Honda will reveal the European spec of the next-gen CR-V in Switzerland, with styling updates accompanying optional sixth and seventh seats and a hybrid powertrain on the new model. Oh, and four-wheel drive variants with both petrol and hybrid drivetrains.

The first deliveries are expected in autumn this year, with hybrids coming next year.

 

Jaguar

The I-Pace will get it’s full public unveiling next week in Geneva, but there will be an online reveal before then.

Tomorrow night the electric SUV will be uncovered live on the internet at 6pm. Jaguar say that the battery on the five seat SUV will charge from empty to 80% in 85 minutes, and full pricing and specifications are to be announced after the curtain drops.

 

Jeep

There will be three debutants from Jeep at this year’s show, with the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, the 2019 Cherokee and the most anticipated new model in the off-roading sphere, the fourth-gen Wrangler appearing in Europe for the first time.

Joining the new releases on their stand will be a Night Eagle special edition of the latest Compass and four Mopar kitted Jeeps, showing off the accessory brand’s latest ranges.

 

Land Rover

Land Rover have teased a limited run two-door Range Rover, harking back to the Classic. We know very little thus far, except that it’s a full-fat Range Rover minus the back doors, there will only be 999 of them and the interior looks funky.

The full reveal will be at the show on the 6th March.

 

Mitsubishi

Geneva will see two model debuts from Mitsubishi – the e-Evolution concept and the 2019 Outlander PHEV.

The all electric e-Evolution will be making its European debut at the show. The EV shows the ‘strategic directions’ of the Mitsubishi brand, combining a sharp exterior with an under-floor triple battery system. One battery drives the front axle, whilst to share responsibilities at the back, and this is paired with Mitsubishi’s all-wheel drive management setup.

A global debut awaits the 2019 Outlander PHEV at Geneva. The second-generation hybrid SUV has had its drivetrain redesigned, with the previous 2.0-litre petrol engine being upgraded to 2.4-litres. The outputs of the generator, rear motor, and the drive battery will be 10% higher than the current PHEV, whilst the drive battery’s capacity will be upped by 15%.

The Outlander’s 4WD system will also be getting more modes, including sport and snow settings.

Click here to visit Mitsubishi’s dedicated Geneva Motor Show website.

 

Skoda

Skoda have announced that they will reveal several model updates at Geneva, including the latest L&K and their latest concept.

The Kodiaq L&K will make its debut in the metal in Switzerland, as the SUV receives the top-spec treatment. A digital instrument panel will also be added to the Kodiaq lineup.

The Vision X concept looks forward to the future of the Skoda SUV family. The hybrid, ‘emotionally rich study’ operates a large touchscreen display and champions infotainment and connectivity. The powertrain in the Vision X is a four-cylinder turbo unit that runs on compressed natural gas and is enhanced by an electric motor.

 

SsangYong

SsangYong are doing well at the moment, and fresh from winning our 4×4 Of The Year Award with the Rexton, they’ve got a couple of reveals lined up for Geneva.

A new Musso will be revealed for the first time in Europe, alongside an electric offering. The e-SIV (which stands for electronic smart interface vehicle) is a concept SUV geared towards connectivity and autonomous driving, and has a slated range of 450km and can charge up to 80% in 50 minutes.

 

With more reveals certain over the duration of the show, we’ll keep you updated with everything 4×4.

ssangyong rexton 3 copy

We were impressed beyond belief with the SsangYong Rexton this year, hence the fact that we awarded it THREE titles. The newcomer from South Korea earned the Best Value award as well as winning the Off-Roaders class – before going on to take the overall title of 4×4 Of The Year 2018.

We were hugely impressed by the Rexton’s all-round abilities. It’s a great vehicle – and its overwhelming value for money takes the verdict from great to astonishing.

The Rexton combines everything from a great interior to an impressive warranty. It’s a practical, comfortable truck that is also good to drive, at a price that knocks the wind out of its opposition. If money were no object, yes you would probably go elsewhere – but SsangYong’s new flagship gets 90% of the way to matching vehicles that cost two, even three times as much. It’s very nearly as good as some illustrious rivals, and positively better that others – and nothing gives you as much for your money. Make no mistake, the Rexton is a brilliant new option in the 4×4 market.

Read the full overview and reports from the 4×4 Of The Year Awards, in the 48-page supplement in the February 2018 issue of 4×4.

4x4 oty

In our 4×4 Of The Year Awards, we divided the array of 4x4s and SUVs available today into seven less broad classes. We’ve also named an overall winner and dished out three Special Awards.

The first of these is Best Value, which goes to the SsangYong Rexton. The truck itself is staggeringly impressive and marks a watershed in SsangYong’s transition from budget brand to part of the mainstream – but the price at which it’s performance comes is overwhelming.

The Off-Road Award (not to be confused with the class award for the Off-Roaders category) goes to the Jeep Wrangler. The JK model is in its last year, but it remains the definitive choice for off-road use.

Our final award goes to 4×4 Manufacturer of the Year. This year, Jeep has strengthened its hand with the new Renegade, and on top of that it has debuted the new Wrangler JL – which, though it’s yet to arrive in Europe, we now know will retain all the critical engineering features that made the JK such a superstar. Even among the soft-roaders in its range, the availability of Jeep’s enhanced Trailhawk models allows them to top the pile off-road. All in all, Jeep is nailing it.

List of Winners

 

Crossover Estate- Vauxhall Insignia Country TourerVauxhall Insignia CT copy

Crossover– Fiat Panda CrossFiat_Panda_Cross_077 copy

Small SUV– Jeep RenegadeJEEP RENEGADE 3 copy

Medium SUV– Skoda Kodiaqskoda Kodiaq 3 copy

Large SUV– Land Rover DiscoveryLR Disco 3 copy

Performance/Luxury SUV– Range RoverRR winner 1 copy

Off-RoaderBest Value & 4×4 Of The Year– Ssangyong Rextonssangyong rexton 3 copy

Off-Road Award– Jeep Wranglerjeep wrangler_recon_1 copy

4×4 Manufacturer Of The Year– Jeep4068-017 copy

Read the full overview and reports from the 4×4 Of The Year Awards, in the 48-page supplement in the February 2018 issue of 4×4.

 

Ssangyong Korando

Once seen as a byword for crumminess, Ssangyong is making huge leaps forward with every new model it brings out. The 2017 Korando is a final facelift for a vehicle that’s been around for half a decade – but even this might surprise you if you still assume the Korean 4×4 specialist is stuck in the last century.

As facelifts go, it’s a mild one. The front-end styling has been revised to bring it into line with more recently introduced members of the Ssangyong family, and there are new designs for the alloys and steering wheel.

Yet the difference between this vehicle and the last Korando we drove (way back in 2011 when it had just arrived in the UK) suggests not a mild tickle-up but a quantum leap forward. There’s been some evolutionary change during that time, not to mention the arrival of a far superior diesel engine, but the improvement is still startling.

In the cabin, the dash plastics have just enough texture to feel pleasing and it doesn’t creak, groan or squirm when you lean on it. The new steering wheel feels good in your hands, and the controls it carries are clear and unfussy.

That goes for the whole of the cabin. Finding the button you want is always easy, as is operating the infotainment system – and so too is getting a comfortable driving position, thanks to a seat with a huge range of adjustment. If you’re used to sliding it as far back as possible in whatever car you drive, first time you get in one of these you might find yourself sitting too far from the wheel.

Stowage is generous, too, with a big glovebox and cubby as well as two useful bins in the centre stack and floor console. It all adds to the feeling of this being a vehicle you can use without having to fuss about anything being awkward.

In the back, you’d have to be sitting behind someone pretty immense not to have enough knee room. Again, it’s easy to get comfortable – and if you’re carrying cargo rather than people, the 60:40 rear seats fold flat with a light and easy one-shot action to create a floor that’s as long as possible and as good as completely flat. There are more recent arrivals on the SUV scene that don’t come close to being as good – especially as the lip at the back is nice and low.

The Korando we tested was the range-topping ELX model, whose already high standard kit list is augmented by leather and heated front and rear seats. For those in the back to get that luxury remains unusual even on a premium vehicle, so it’s an impressive touch – as is the fact that the leather itself feels like leather, not plastic.

Other kit on this model includes a heated steering wheel, front and rear parking sensors with a rearview camera, sat-nav, Bluetooth, a 7” touch screen and 225/55R18 tyres on diamond-cut alloys. Plenty of good stuff for your money, then.

Those big rims do bode ill for ride quality, however. And when you pilot the Korando across the sort of broken surfaces we have to endure all too often in the UK, things do at times verge on the crashy. There’s a certain amount of vibration through the drivetrain, too, so refinement is hardly its strongest point.

Overall, however, for what is ultimately a budget vehicle the Korando drives very acceptably. More than that, in fact, it can be quite enjoyable to hustle through corners – and the 2.2-litre engine has no shortage at all of shove.

Mated to the optional automatic gearbox, a six-speed Aisin unit adding £1125 to the price of the car, the engine is quite vocal but, more than that, very willing to get you moving. It doesn’t take off like a scalded cat when you floor it from the lights, but it builds speed steadily – and we found that for overtaking moves in the 30-45mph band, it’s very effective indeed. Waiting patiently for the national speed limit sign to arrive as we exited a village on the test route, we banged in the throttle and, for a moment, had to check to see that we hadn’t accidentally driven off in someone’s V8 instead.

Not all versions of the Korando have four-wheel drive, but all the versions we’re interested in do. To this end, you can add £1500 to any ‘prices from’ stuff you see about it, though the ELX model tested here comes as standard in 4×4 form.

This helps add peace of mind to a 2000kg towing limit, and while it’s no Rexton off-road the Korando does have a good degree of capability. Obviously, ground clearance will be a limiting factor, and you wouldn’t choose such low-profi le tyres for this kind of work either, but the engine’s torque supply is admirably suited to hauling it up steep hills from tickover, even without the benefit of low box.

Something else it doesn’t have is hill descent control, and even with fi rst gear selected manually on the auto box it was necessary to use cadence braking to avoid a runaway ride. For this reason, we’d say the Korando could be a viable choice if you need something to use regularly on sandy or gravelly terrain, but mud, ruts and slippery hills are less likely to suit it.

Overall, this is a very credible SUV. Without laying it on thick, it ticks almost every basic box, and while it does feel a little last-generation in places it’s certainly not last-century – and for Ssangyong, that really does represent a step forward on the path it’s taking from joke brand through also-run and left-field choice to part of the mainstream. It’s well on the way. Certainly, it’s still a left-field choice, with low prices – and a five-year, unlimited mileage warranty, don’t let’s forget – key to what it offers.

Ssangyong dealers don’t offer the sort of discounts some of its rivals’ do, however. That helps bring some excellent cars closer to the £23,500 on this car’s screen – and when you factor in the likely effect of depreciation, and of the relatively high emissions the 2.2-litre engine produces, it’s less cut and dried.

But as it was with Hyundai and Kia, Ssanygong is moving from a price-based offering to one that leads with its products.The Korando has made up ground during its time – and though this fi nal facelift is a mild one, it helps suggest that when the next model comes along, it will represent another quantum leap forward. For now, it’s a better bet than ever.