The Rodius is a well established winner… In ugly car awards, that is. So let’s look at the method in the madness, instead. Yes, it’s huge – stretching to over five metres in length – and that yields mammoth space for seven, in a 2-2-3 layout that encourages open-plan sensations. The middle seats swivel round for a power-crazed conference room on wheels. They ought to use it on The Apprentice, even if it’s more likely to be run by hotels and taxi firms.
That metal gazebo on the back makes no sense, until you haul open the massive tailgate. Therein lies 875 litres of space, enough for the luggage of all occupants as well. Oh, and with a 2500kg towing limit, the caravan behind will also be up to the job.
And does the Rodius go like stink?
A 2.7-litre five-pot turbodiesel from the old Merc E 270 CDI produces 165bhp to haul it along. Relatively vibe-free, if you don’t ask too much from it, speed isn’t in abundance, but 350lb ft of torque spread between 1800-3250rpm helps it never bog down. Shouldn’t challenge the rear wheels, but a 4WD version is available if you’re worried. The sloppy manual gearbox isn’t great but Mercedes licenses Ssangyong a five-speed auto.
Click ‘Next’ to find out if the Rodius’s interior has had a brush with the ugly stick
So, inside the Rodius is…
Not only is the dash dated and shiny, but it all feels scarily wide. It’s a terror that’s heightened when you look behind and refocus in alarm at the distant tailgate (helpfully obscured by three fat head restraints). This overbodied feel is great at carrying bodies and bags, but you almost feel you’re lacking an upgrade on your driving licence.
Surprisingly, the Rodius is easier to handle than you’d think. Light steering has no feel, but things are far less intimidating at speed than they are in Sainsbury’s car park. Suspension is firm in town but the considerable weight damps things fairly well at speed, meaning the ride is reasonably flowing, too. You expect a lurch-fest, but come away surprised, though ultimately it’s still more Mercedes Viano than R-Class.
Buyers won’t care. The Rodius is huge, and costs just £15k. Cheaper than all but one Vauxhall Zafira. And we find that equation oddly appealing, in a satisfying, beat-the-system, don’t give a stuff about the badge kinda way.
Click here to find out how Ssangyong is relaunching in the UK