Apparently, the most common first questions asked of SsangYong staff at any show or stand are “what’s with the name?” and “is it Chinese?”
The answer to the first is that it means two dragons in Korean, and the answer to the second is, well, no, it’s South Korean.
In fact, despite been less well known than Kia and Hyundai, SsangYong is Korea’s oldest car maker. The company came about at the end of the Korean War, the result of a merger between two firms who built US Jeeps from kits.
Since 1954 it’s been through several name changes, entered various partnerships and been bought and sold more than once but throughout the years of building trucks, buses and special purpose vehicles its 4×4 heritage has remained central to SsangYong.
The name first appeared on these shores in the early 1990s attached to the Musso, a large SUV which under its utilitarian skin used oily bits from Mercedes. After a brief period where its models were badged as Daewoos, the SsangYong brand reappeared in 2001 with the first Rexton. Like the Musso it succeeded it used Mercedes mechanicals and was “challenging” to look at.