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SsangYong’s sangfroid as rival dies

Maurice and Annette Hardy

Maurice and Annette Hardy

SsangYong’s sangfroid as rival dies

It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good.

So while Mitsubishi dealers may be mourning the passing of the Shogun, SsangYong showrooms should soon be a gathering place for disaffected Mitsubishi owners wanting to replace their workhorse.

The beauty of the Shogun has always been that it’s big, tough as a Land Rover Defender, and has the ability to work hard. That mantle now shifts onto SsangYong’s Rexton, which also comes with a pickup rear end as the Musso, the first name to grace a SsangYong in the UK around 25 years ago.

The marque had a bit of a mixed history to start with. It was brought in by Bob Edmiston of International Motors, who was behind Subaru, Isuzu, Daihatsu, and, for a time, Hyundai sales in the UK. But when SsangYong became Daewoo, Edmiston flogged off all his stock of Musso and Korando models at knockdown prices.

Today’s models are more sensible and therefore even more practical. The first Musso suffered from a long rear overhang, great for load space but no good off-road. In fact it could carry as much as a five seater as our classic Range Rover managed with the back seats folded. We took our son to university in a Musso and struggled to bring him back with all his gear in the Range Rover which, true to form, managed to break down as well!

Some people might regard the current SsangYong Rexton as a bit crude. It has what is now known as a body on frame set-up – a chassis underneath when most people are now going monocoque to save weight. But this makes the SsangYong so tough it gets a five year 150,000 miles warranty which beats the five year cover offered by Mitsubishi.

SsangYong is also getting into sponsorship of horsey events; Mitsubishi dropped its backing for the Badminton Horse Trials this year after almost three decades. Wealthy country people tend to judge their vehicle as much by its usefulness as its fashion statement, hence the owners of the most expensive house in our neighbouring village being happy to own a Rexton while the new money flashes about in Range Rover Sports with fancy number plates.

Our Rexton smelled overwhelmingly of rubber, thanks to its newness and that of the practical mats fitted to protect the carpets. It was a reminder of the gas masks we used to endure when having teeth extracted! But, to be fair, it’s all part of what the Rexton is about. Chuck the kids and the dogs in (seven seat versions for families with plenty of kids, five seats for those who collect dogs instead) and get going.

Despite its heavyweight construction, the Rexton maxes out at 2.2 tonnes kerb weight, much less than older Discovery and Defender models. That’s as well considering it only has a 2.2 litre turbodiesel; on the test car this drove all four wheels through a Mercedes seven speed automatic gearbox. The car has easily selectable 4x2, 4x4, or 4x4 low ratio modes via a dial, the latter will certainly help when moving a 3.5 tonne trailer on heavy going. The towing weight matches anything else in the class and exceeds some so this car is no weakling.

What was obvious on the back of every Shogun was the spare wheel; it’s a feature absent from the Rexton unless the buyer ticks the options box for a full size spare. To be regarded as a serious off-roader, a spare is an essential part of the kit, particularly where the car is used for towing. SsangYong needs to address this issue.

Another failure in our view is the use of fabric straps to release the third row seats from their locks. When folded, they lie on the floor and unless protected by an extra thick floor mat will be a natural play chew for dogs or get snagged by items in the load area.

But there’s little else to fault the car on. The ride pitches and wallows a bit and the fuel consumption could be better than the high 20s that matches what a Shogun gave us in 2012. But the kit count is generous and the price, at £34,995 for the Ice limited edition test car, way below that of the 2012 Shogun but perhaps explained in part by the plastic leather look seats which at least will be easy to clean.

Car: SsangYong Rexton ICE


Does it fit your ego...

0-62 mph: secs

Top speed: mph

Bhp: 181 @ 4,000 rpm

Torque: 420 Nm @ 1,600 rpm


...and your wallet...

Price: £34,995

Combined: 34.0 mpg

CO2 emissions: 218 g/km


Best bits: tough, hardworking 4x4

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