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Revived Musso 'rhino' leads new charge for SsangYong

PUBLISHED: 08:39 07 April 2017 | UPDATED: 11:30 07 April 2017

SsangYong Musso pick-up can now tow 3.5 tonnes. Picture: SsangYong

SsangYong Musso pick-up can now tow 3.5 tonnes. Picture: SsangYong

SsangYong

SsangYong has revived its Musso - Korean for rhino - and created a new identity for its big-value, highly-capable pick-up, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

SsangYong Musso name is back in the UK but it�s now a practical, big-value pick-up rather than a sport utility vehicle. Pictures: SsangYongSsangYong Musso name is back in the UK but it�s now a practical, big-value pick-up rather than a sport utility vehicle. Pictures: SsangYong

I first drove a SsangYong Musso in 1994 when it was a sport utility vehicle and the then local dealer wanted to introduce me to this new brand in the UK.

It was SsangYong’s first, short-lived UK foray and the entertainment budget was also low cost with a cheese sarnie and a cuppa in the showroom, not wining and dining – a real bread-and-butter brand.

SsangYong is now well and truly firing on all cylinders in the UK with its budget crossovers, SUVs and 4x4s. And it’s just brought the Musso – Korean for rhino – back from extinction.

Load deck can take a Euro pallet and a one-tonne payload. Picture: SsangYongLoad deck can take a Euro pallet and a one-tonne payload. Picture: SsangYong

What’s the new Musso?

Now a pick-up, its replaces the Korando Sports, not to be confused with the Korando compact SUV.

This facelifted double-cab, five-seater pick-up is big, bold and rather attractive in a rugged way. Add a new 2.2-litre turbo diesel engine, selectable four-wheel drive, a car-like drive, very affordable pricing and a five-year, unlimited mileage warranty and the Musso has loads going for it.

Hard-top over the load deck improves SsangYong Musso's protection and makes it more lifestyle load carrier. Picture: SsangYongHard-top over the load deck improves SsangYong Musso's protection and makes it more lifestyle load carrier. Picture: SsangYong

Under the bonnet

The smooth, refined 178PS diesel, with six-speed manual or automatic gearboxes, is a huge improvement on the old 2.0-litre. It has more horsepower than more expensive rivals and 400 Newton metres of torque from 1,400rpm for strong low-down grunt, enough to spin the rear wheels momentarily pulling away with a heavy foot and without a load on board.

The automatic versions returned 30mpg overall, with 37mpg on a run.

SsangYong Musso fascia looks good but not the most user-friendly. Picture: SsangYongSsangYong Musso fascia looks good but not the most user-friendly. Picture: SsangYong

How it drives

Many pick-ups have rudimentary leaf-sprung rear suspension, the Musso has multi-link rear suspension with coil springs so the ride is more car-like, generally smooth and refined, but there’s some low-speed judder and shudder.

For a large pick-up, it corners competently – there’s some roll initially which soon settles – but the steering is ponderous.

It’s also capable in the rough stuff, switching electronically from two to four-wheel drive high ratio gearing on the move with low four-wheel drive ratios when the going gets really tough.

In the cabin

The double cab is roomy enough for five, although three large adults across the rear bench might be a bit of a squeeze and legroom a mite tight in the back with six-footers front and rear.

With the vertical, pick-up screen directly behind the rear seats, the backs are upright, so no slouching, but it makes the cabin light and airy.

Loads going for it

The 2.04 sq m load deck, with protective lining, will take a Euro pallet and a one-tonne payload, with anchor points to secure loads.

The large tailgate drops to create a low platform for sliding bulky loads in and out and the Musso can now tow 3.5 tonnes.

A moulded, body-colour rear canopy creates estate car-like versatility with heated rear window, sliding front glass and opening side windows, interior light, central locking and roof bars. There’s also a hinged chequerplate cover, which sits flush on the load deck sides.

At the wheel

Big dials, clear gauges and buttons you can operate wearing gloves fit in with the Musso being a commercial vehicle but soft-touch plastics and brightwork trim add to the car-like pretensions. Some switches’ positioning seems a little haphazard at first and I never did work out which button worked which heated front seats – being a man I don’t do handbooks!

Equipment

Good standard equipment, value pricing, attractive finance deals and that peace-of-mind warranty add to the Musso’s appeal.

SE gets silver 18in alloy wheels, ‘leather-look’ seats, cruise control, electric windows and heated mirrors.

EX is the lifestyle choice with black alloys, roof rails, LED daytime running lights, leather upholstery, heated front seats, electric driver’s seat, automatic air conditioning, automatic headlights and wipers, seven-inch touchscreen RDS radio with iPod and Bluetooth connection and optional automatic transmission.

Final say

The Musso is a lot of pick-up for the money and stylish enough to appeal to families with active lifestyles, especially if you can claim back the VAT.

Finished in bright red with those black alloys it drew plenty of comments. You’ve heard of BLT, we dubbed it BRT – big red truck.

Price (excluding VAT): SsangYong Musso EX auto £18,995 (range from £15,995)

Engine: 2,157cc, 178PS, four-cylinder turbo diesel producing 400Nm of torque

Performance: Top speed 108mph

MPG: Urban 29; extra urban 43; combined 37

CO2 emissions: 202g/km

Warranty: Five years, unlimited mileage

Will it fit in the garage? L 4,990mm; W (including door mirrors) 1,940mm; H 1,790mm

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