ALAN DOUGLAS ON MOTORS: SsangYong Musso pickup review
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I have a soft spot for pickups. I don’t just own one as my personal transport, but most of my neighbours in rural Angus have a variety of Toyotas, Isuzus, Mitsubishis, Nissans and Fords to get about the glen.
They’re very useful, not just for venturing offroad but also negotiating the single track public road which is peppered with potholes, ruts and crumbling verges.
They’re the ultimate practical vehicle offering flexibility, carrying and towing ability while still providing comfortable accommodation for all the family.
The choice has become more limited in recent times with Nissan, VW and Mitsubishi withdrawing from the UK but those that are left – primarily Isuzu, Toyota and Ford – have some cracking machines which are sophisticated and very capable.
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But there’s one other which is eating into their domination of the market to offer something which is not just able to take on all the tasks demanded of it, but great value for money, undercutting the competition.
It may be the least well-known make in this country but SsangYong is South Korea’s only SUV and 4x4 specialist manufacturer and they have great expertise built up over the past 70 years, producing trucks, buses and special purpose vehicles for the export market.
Meaning double-dragon, SsangYong is really getting its act together here with some great offerings, led by the splendid Rexton SUV which to my mind is equal to the best of the competition from Range Rover, BMW and Mercedes, but at a fraction of the price.
Now led by Scottish managing director Kevin Griffin, SsangYong UK is pushing ahead with new dealerships to bring their goodies to the buying public.
One of their latest is the revised Musso pickup and while it still represents great value it is even more refined with engine upgrades and even more standard equipment.
At the same time it is superbly capable with a towing capacity of three-and-a- half tonnes and a load weight in the cargo bed of more than a tonne, the only pickup able to do both at the same time.
The latest model is immediately recognisable by its huge, bold grille which is a statement in itself that this machine means business. There are some new graphics on the body, depending on the model, but thankfully they’re quite subtle.
The interior has been enhanced by extra features but the overall look remains pretty much the same, sharing much of the design with the Rexton, which is good because it is functional, businesslike and well screwed-together, looking as if it will withstand everything that a hard working life will throw at it. There’s stacks of room for five full-size adults in the double cab and getting in and out is easy, helped by the low flat floor.
Its 2.2-litre diesel engine is strong, if not fast, but with a machine like this you’re looking for strength rather than speed so it’ll take almost 12 seconds to reach 62 mph.
The six-speed auto gearbox in the featured Rhino test vehicle is delightfully smooth and I enjoyed it over the 500 miles I covered in my time behind the wheel, although it was a wee bit thirsty, going through a gallon of expensive diesel every thirty or so miles.
I didn’t get the chance to take it offroad but I’m told it is remarkably capable and confident with the switchable four-wheel drive system, low ratio, hill descent and hill start assist.
There are different lengths for the loadbed and the Rhino had the longest at 1.6 metres with heavier-duty springs, which can make a big difference if you’re lugging bulky or long cargo.
So, I’d say rather than looking at some overpriced luxury SUV, you’d be better off casting your eye at this offer from SsangYong and you’ll be surprised at what you find, especially if you’re a business user where the benefit-in-kind rate is very financially-attractive along with a unique seven-year, 150,000-mile warranty.
CAR: SsangYong Musso Rhino LWB Longbed 4x4 6-speed automatic
PRICE: £32,010 plus VAT (£38,343 inc VAT)
ENGINE: 2157cc 4-inline diesel
POWER: 202 PS
TORQUE: 441 Nm combined
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 113 mph
TOWING CAPACITY: 3,500 Kgs (braked)
MPG: 30 mpg combined
CO2 EMISSIONS: 245 g/km
PAYLOAD: 1140 kgs