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SsangYong Rexton SUV Driving & Performance

SsangYong Rexton SUV Driving & Performance

Performance
3.5 out of 5

  • Diesel-only line-up
  • Choice of manual and auto gearboxes
  • Particularly good at towing

There’s just one engine on offer here – a SsangYong-built 2.2-litre turbodiesel that comes with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard or an optional (but standard on top Ultimate trim) Mercedes-Benz-sourced seven-speed automatic.

The motor generates the same output in both cases – 181hp and 420Nm between 1,600-2,600rpm –its top speed of 115mph and 0-62mph taking 11 seconds.

So far we’ve had the chance to test the automatic version only, and found that for normal driving it’s very good. The engine picks up well and revs freely for a diesel, but if you ask too much of it then it becomes noisy and the gearbox struggles to change gears quickly enough. It’s an old design of ‘box compared to many rivals’ now.

Perhaps more pertinently, the braked towing capacity of the Rexton is an unusually high 3,500kg, or 3.5 tonnes, which puts on it par – if not ahead – of all rivals. Car firms aren’t allowed to go higher for private vehicles.

 

 

Handling

3 out of 5
  • Lots of body roll
  • Heavy, slow steering
  • Impressive off-road

The Rexton is a large SUV, and handles exactly as you’d expect one to, albeit perhaps a little more agriculturally than we’d prefer.

Its steering is slow and heavy, which can make manoeuvring a chore, and the body rolls overly when faced with a tight bend at more than slow speeds. This is a heavy car that rewards considered driving inputs.

However, we were extremely impressed with how it dealt with off-road situations. Its low overhangs at both ends coupled with all-wheel drive capability (activated via a rotary switch behind the gear lever) mean it feels as though it’ll tackle all but the toughest terrains. We’ve tried it on a relatively mild course and it didn’t miss a beat.

Behind the wheel

4 out of 5

  • Vastly improved design
  • Much better materials
  • Easy to find good driving position

Compared to the previous Rexton there has been a dramatic improvement in the cabin – almost to the point that you wonder whether it was designed by a different company. SsangYong really has moved the game on in this respect.

It’s not perfect, with some poorer-quality plastics used for some switchgear, but the layout is simple – albeit with too many buttons for our liking.

We found the 9.2-inch multimedia screen, which is standard on mid-spec ELX models and above, very responsive to touch inputs. We’ve yet to give it a proper test in the UK, however – our test car was fitted with Korean-spec software. Expect TomTom mapping over here.

 

 

 

 


The driving position is very high, which will appeal to many SUV buyers, and the steering wheel adjusts for reach and rake so it’s easy to find a good driving position. During our first test the top-spec seats were highly adjustable too. 

We weren’t as keen on the manual gear selection, though – it’s via a thumb switch on the lever rather than paddles and as such it’s a cumbersome solution.

A smart new 7.0-inch TFT-LCD display (also on ELX and above) sits behind the steering wheel to display digital speedometer and rev counters along with trip computer, driver assistance and navigation instructions where required.

Comfort

3.5 out of 5
  • Excellent seats
  • Well-insulated cabin
  • Ride can be bumpy

We found the SsangYong Rexton to be a comfortable car in most situations. The front seats are worthy of special mention – they have lots of adjustment and support you well without pinching. The bolstering is soft and they absorb some imperfections in the road that would otherwise jar.

Cabin insulation is good too, with minimal road or wind noise intruding during our initial assessment in Korea. The diesel engine can become a little noisy if you work it too hard, though.

Our only big issue here has to do with the design of the Rexton. Its older-style body-on-frame arrangement, where the chassis of the car is separate from the shell and connected by eight rubber mounts, means the ride can be choppy in some situations because any jolts cause the two parts to move independently. This means the car doesn’t ride as smoothly as more modern designs.

There’s no adaptive suspension on offer either, so there’s less flexibility as in some rival cars, and we’ve yet to try a car with the manual gearbox – that has a slightly less sophisticated rear suspension arrangement so potentially could be bumpier still.

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