With the relaunch of SsangYong in the UK, we're testing all their latest products. Dealers say they sell the Rexton large SUV to buyers with an inkling for an X5, but not the cash.
It’s SsangYong’s oldest but best-looking machine, with cohesion to its lines that approaches smart class. It’s OK inside as well – influences are clearly Japanese hi-fi, with techno-look plastics and lots of digital displays, but it’s reasonably upmarket and quite well built. Even the backlit dials are copied from the Mercedes S-Class.
Is it cheap 'n' cheerful then?
There’s a vast array of standard kit and, for £500 on most models, the option of seven seats. The same common-rail Merc engine as in the Rodius offers gameful shove, but seems noisier here.
We drove an auto, which accentuated this by not quite being on the ball; the lazy rise and fall of revs became irritating. It’s faster, though, and there is also a top-spec model boosted to 186bhp and 296lb/ft of torque, which proves as fast as a base Range Rover Sport TDV6...
Click 'Next' to read CAR's verdict on the Rexton
And how is the Rexton through the twisties?
Speed isn’t top of the agenda here. The ageing feel extends to the dynamics, with the Rexton wallowing through corners, challenging toddler’s tummies over undulations and offering absolutely no idea of what’s underfoot through dramatically over-light steering. It feels like SsangYong’s oldest car, even whistling from the windows at speed, like cars used to.
Buyers, apparently, buy these, then upgrade the standard 16-inch alloys by three inches or more, darken the glass, and have ‘their’ BMW X5 for £19,995 on the road. Ssangyong does something similar with the SPR range-topper, throwing in an auto ‘box, more power and full-time, rather than ‘torque on demand’, 4WD – but charges £24,995. Still good, but not where the volume is.
This is how Korean cars used to be – not up to European standards, but priced so it doesn’t matter. Trouble is, the other SsangYongs are cleverer in their approach, and thus more worthy. How ironic, then, that the Rexton should look the best of all three models on sale today…