SsangYong Rexton's winning way to gain 'street cred'
SsangYong's biggest challenge is not its vehicles but getting its name know - the all-new Rexton SUV winning 4x4 of the year is a huge boost, says motoring editor Andy Russell.
If you’ve got it, flaunt it… SsangYong is with its all-new Rexton flagship SUV, the latest model that confirms the Korean 4x4 and SUV specialist is going places – on and off-road.
The Rexton is a good-looking, well-built big SUV with lots of kit and, from £27,500 on the road with a five-year unlimited mileage warranty, impressive value.
But you can’t buy ‘street cred’ and that’s what SsangYong is flaunting, proudly declaring the Rexton is 4x4 of the year with leading specialist publication 4x4 Magazine also giving it best off-roader and value awards.
Looks and image
The Rexton is a big beast but not ungainly with elegant styling that makes it look more modern than SsangYongs of old and, despite its price, it doesn’t look like a cheaper option in the serious 4x4 market.
SsangYong sees itself as ‘Korea’s Land Rover’ – it hasn’t reached those dizzy heights in the UK but the Rexton is a big step in the right direction.
Under the bonnet
One engine – a potent 181PS, 2.2-litre turbo diesel – with six-speed manual or seven-speed Mercedes-Benz automatic gearboxes.
It’s surprisingly refined, cruising quietly at motorway speeds and never gruff even when worked hard. It has plenty of urgency once rolling, brisker than the figures suggest, with the smooth-shifting auto transmission kicking down without hesitation for swift overtaking – not bad given a kerb weight around 2.2 tonnes.
The downside was 30mpg overall but you don’t buy an off-roader with economy in mind!
How it drives
The ride is generally good and acceptably supple but in urban driving that heavy-duty hardware suspension and chassis can jar over potholes and bumps and lumps.
For a big, tall SUV it corners competently, if you don’t push it too hard, but you’re aware of a lot of weight changing direction through corners with some body roll.
If you plan to venture off road, as well as road-biased two-wheel drive, there’s high and low-ratio four-wheel drive and a towing capability of up to 3.5 tonnes so it’s a willing workhorse.
Space and comfort
Big on the outside means big on the inside but I find strange that entry EX has seven seats as standard, they’re optional on ELX but range-topping Ultimate is five seats only.
Middle row passengers have bags of legroom but the seats don’t slide. The two rearmost seats, which fold out of the boot floor, are big enough to accommodate adults but legroom is tight so best for children while small side window makes you feel hemmed in and access is tricky.
With all seats in use, load space is minimal but, drop the 50/50 third row of seats, and you’ve got a whopping 820 litres to window level and 1,977 litres with the middle 60/40 split seats laid flat too. But the boot floor is rather high with a removable raised panel to create a flush load deck with the seats down.
At the wheel
The interior quality really impresses – materials look and feel good at contact points and the fit and finish stands the test against more expensive models.
The driving position is sound, with good seat and steering adjustment, and the fascia is more functional than fancy but that pays dividends when it comes to clarity and ease of use.
Mid-range ELX gets sat-nav and a large, 9.2in screen which looks good but takes some mastering but heating and ventilation controls are simple and idiot-proof.
What got on my chimes were the irritating warning noises and five different indicator noises, including chirruping crickets, lane departure warning and parking assist sounds was beyond me.
Having won 4x4 of the Year, the Rexton deserves to win the attention of would-be buyers looking for serious 4x4 hardware and good-value pricing. Take it for a test drive and the Rexton will show why.
SPEC AND TECH
Price: SsangYong Rexton ELX auto seven-seat £34,000 (range £27,500 to £37,500)
Engine: 2,157cc, 181PS, four-cylinder turbo diesel with seven-speed automatic gearbox
Performance: 0-60mph 11.9 seconds; top speed 115mph
MPG: Urban 27.1; extra urban 40.3; combined 34
CO2 emissions: 218g/km
Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 37pc
Insurance group: 29 (out of 50)
Warranty: Five years, unlimited mileage
Will it fit in the garage? L 4,850mm; W (including door mirrors) 1,960mm; H 1,825mm