The next SsangYong Rexton SUV will go on sale in 2017 with prices from around £26,000 plus a new focus on design and quality
An all-new SsangYong Rexton will debut at the 2016 Paris Motor Show before arriving at UK dealers in 2017, and Auto Express has seen it in the metal.
The big SUV will be next in a succession of new SsangYongmodels set to arrive over the coming years as the revitalised company seeks to establish itself as a force in the burgeoning global market for 4x4s and crossovers. We took a first look at the new Rexton, internally known as the Y400, at the Korean firm’s state-of-the-art research and development centre at its Pyeongtaek factory near Seoul and it's represented here by these interior and exterior sketches.
Underpinning the new car is an all-new ladder frame chassis that will also form the basis of SsangYong’s replacement for theKorando Sports pick-up truck in 2018. Currently known within the company as the Q200, the one-tonne truck shares its chassis, front-end styling and interior with the new Rexton.
SsangYong’s new focus on design
The Rexton’s imposing lines are stronger and more defined than those of the LIV-1 concept car that debuted at the 2013 Seoul Motor Show but that concept is otherwise very similar in appearance to the final production car. It’s an altogether more confident and distinctive effort than the current Rexton.
SsangYong has shown with its well-received Tivoli crossover that it can now tackle more established brands head-on with the quality of the work that emerges from its Pyeongtaek R&D building and the design team confidently explained how the new look Rexton was inspired by the polar bear and traditional “Korean aesthetics”. With further influences apparently coming from the Korean mountains, pine trees, the country’s traditional art and furniture, it sounds a bit of a mishmash but the end result is impressively cohesive, taking the Tivoli’s bold design baton and running with it.
The Rexton is a substantial vehicle with slab sides, a vertical, cliff-like nose and those chiselled lines all adding to its considerable road presence. There’a a hint of Volvo XC90 about the bluff silhouette, a comparison SsangYong probably wouldn’t mind. The roof line slopes away to the rear as on the Tivoli and that car’s trademark squared-off line above the rear wheel arch is carried over and duplicated over the front wheel.
NEW SSANGYONG REXTON ON SALE IN 2017
Friday 10th June 2016
“One of the trends today is for cars to have stronger shapes,” saidMyung-Hack Lee, head of SsangYong’s design division. “We are looking to create a very modern trendy image”. We’ll let you judge how successful SsangYong has been in that when we bring you the first official pictures of the finished Rexton in the run-up to the official reveal in Paris this September. To our eyes though, the Rexton does ’strong’ and ‘modern’ well. Though ‘trendy’ might be a stretch for any family-sized off-roader with a ladder frame chassis.
New Rexton: interior quality stands out
The Rexton cabin is, if anything, more of an eye-opener than the outside. The design is never groundbreaking and looks a little like a Mercedes-Benz effort from a generation or two ago in places but that’s no bad thing and quality levels are instantly impressive. It’s the reliance on lots of buttons in addition to the touchscreen interface, at a time when rivals are hiding their minor controls in infotainment menu systems, that dates the layout, robbing it of some clean surfaces but it feels generally modern, seems user-friendly and the design is attractive.
A choice of leather and wood-effect finishes for the dash with an abundance of chrome detailing add to the quality feel and although the plastics lower down on the centre console are of a lower grade, they are certainly nothing to get upset about. Highlights include the instrument cluster with its large colour TFT display screen between the two analog dials and the particularly large, impressive-looking central touchscreen.
In the rear of the Rexton, legroom appears decent and the 7-seat option retains a usable boot area (enough for a couple of large holdalls even when all the seats are in use. Of course, fold the two third row seats down, or choose the five-seat car and you’ll have a prodigious boot at your disposal.
Rexton engines, gearboxes and safety tech
The Rexton will get SsangYong’s new 2.0-litre GDi turbocharged petrol engine but that unit is unlikely to make it to the UK. Instead it’ll be the trusty old 178bhp 2.2-litre diesel in the current car providing the pulling power. Initially, it’ll be the same Mercedes 7-speed automatic as the current car uses too but when the 2.0-litre petrol comes on stream for some markets around 12 months after launch, so will a more modern 8-speed auto also sourced from Mercedes-Benz.
Although the engine UK buyers get will be unchanged from the current Rexton, the longer, wider chassis of the new model is also at least 50kg lighter. This and the superior aerodynamics of the new bodywork lead us to expect improved fuel economy over the current car’s 38.2mpg (40.4mpg if you choose the manual) and further efficiency gains will arrive with the 8-speed gearbox. There’ll be a selectable all-wheel-drive system while safety technology will include lane departure warning and blind sport detection as well as a full complement of airbags.
2017 Rexton prices to rise but tough 4x4 virtues are a strength
Prices will inevitably rise from the current £23,000 entry-point when the new Y400 Rexton hits the UK. SsangYong Motor UK CEO Paul Williams indicated it’s likely that a fully-loaded top spec model will come close to the £35,000 level. That would suggest a new starting point of of around £26,000 is on the cards and there’s confidence within the UK team that customers needing a big, capable SUV for towing and off-road use will find that still-tempting price point hard to resist.
“I think there’s a lot of opportunity with Y400, we will have a relatively modern vehicle in a market where others have moved out”, said Williams. And that view was echoed by SangYong’s President and CEO Johng-Sik Choi.
“Of course the Y400 is a frame type design but as of now, most SUVs are switching to a monocoque type not a frame type. But that’s our strategic model, to build and explore the market as a frame based SUV.
“It may be a traditional type of SUV but we put a lot of technology into this model and its major market will be the emerging markets, Russia, China and South America, so we believe there is still a lot of demand there. And it fits in with our model of being an SUV specialist.”
The ladder frame chassis design of the Y400 might be heavier and less composed on the road than the monocoque chassis favoured by most modern SUV makers but it should deliver in terms of durability and, importantly for SsangYong’s existing Rexton customer base formed in significant part of caravaners and those with horseboxes or boats - towing weight.
The major potential for the new Rexton may well lie in emerging markets but in the UK options are dwindling for buyers who need a tough 4x4 at a low price. SsangYong thinks the new Rexton can fill the void while also taking sales from more conventional family-sized SUVs like the Hyundai Santa Fe on a value-for-money ticket.
Meanwhile, the firm is also working on a further option to flesh out its range that will be more in tune with the way the big 4x4 market is evolving. The base for it is a second new monocoque platform in addition to that which underpins the Tivoli and the new Korando (C300) that’s due in 2019.
This front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive D-segment platform is designed to underpin larger crossovers as well as a replacement for the Truismo MPV that we could see before 2020. It’ll allow SsangYong to grow its larger SUV offering with more road-biased alternatives to the Rexton. There are interesting times ahead for the Korean brand.