A REAL MUSSO CAR In a market with big players, the SsangYong Musso will pickup a lot of admirers
The Korean brand is heading in the right direction — it used to be so-so but cheap, it's still cheap but it will definitely make you cheerful
A FEW years ago I was visiting the town where I grew up, when I bumped into a girl I went to school with.
She looked amazing.
Korean brand SsangYong is heading in the right direction with this stylish pickup
Nothing unusual about that. But what took me aback was how much she had changed.
Last time I’d seen her, her head was crowned by a frenzy of pink hair.
Her face was streaked in black make-up, and she had the uninviting edge of someone who had not been hugged by her folks.
But there she was, looking like she’d come straight from a Victoria’s Secret audition.
Ssanyong Musso has class-leading space in the back of the five-seat cab, and is the only pickup offering a heated steering wheel
Ssanyong Musso can tow 3.5tonnes
There is no doubting the quality build of the Musso, which includes Hill Descent Control, low and high gearing locks, and selectable AWD
The ugly duckling phenomenon even extends to cars. Remember when Kia and Hyundai were a joke?
Now they are headed by Peter Schreyer, the designer of the Audi TT, and Albert Biermann, arguably the world’s best performance engineer.
I’m putting a marker down here — in ten years’ time SsangYong will be considered a good car brand.
And after attending the launch of its new pickup — the Musso — it’s clear the Korean brand is heading in the right direction.
The pickup's rear springs can get chattery over bumpy ground but SsangYong says they will probably be softened over time
Traditionally, a SsangYong review would have some strands of faint praise, a few lines about how build quality isn’t up to scratch, and a lukewarm conclusion along the lines of “at least it’s cheap”.
But in a market where most of the big players offer a pickup, the Musso more than holds its head up.
It has class-leading space in the back of the five-seat cab, and is the only pickup offering a heated steering wheel.
It boasts the deepest load bed in the class, which can swallow just over a tonne, and it can tow 3.5 tonnes.
The Musso boasts a 179bhp 2.2 litre diesel engine which is pleasingly torquey
And apart from the Nissan Navara, the Musso is the only pickup to have coiled springs on the rear.
The 179bhp 2.2 litre diesel engine — the only one on offer — is no-nonsense and pleasingly torquey. Granted, it’s not got the wallop of the VW Amarok’s V6, but that sucker starts at £30K.
Over rough ground it’s as handy as a mountain goat, with Hill Descent Control, low and high gearing locks, and selectable AWD. But do pay the extra £1,500 for the auto ’box — you’ll thank me for it.
Engine: 2.2litre diesel
0-62mph: 11 secs
Top speed: 155mph
Length: 5 metres
The interior is streets ahead of the last model, with a 9.2 inch colour screen, DAB radio, Apple CarPlay and oodles of safety tech.
The Musso isn’t perfect. Compared to things like the Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux, steering feels flabby.
And the rear springs I mentioned can get chattery over bumpy ground — although SsangYong says they will probably be softened in the fullness of time.
But — and this has to be the biggest sell of all — not only does is start at a knock down price of £19,995, but SsangYong is giving the Musso a seven-year warranty.
SsangYong has plenty of new product coming through in the next few years, and if it’s all as good as the Musso, this time in ten years the ugly duckling will be a swan.