SsangYong - just the job when Mother Nature decides to be mischievous
When the going gets tough SsangYong has just the cars you need to make it through the ice and snow. Here we have a look at the very decent prices, performance and spec.
THERE had been a huge dump of snow and as we looked out of the window in the early morning gloom, cars were taking it very slowly along the mountain roads.
And this was not just any snow. We were in the Alps and it had been coming down steadily for hours – from mid-afternoon the day before when they had closed all the ski lifts – twisting and swirling in thick wafts.
“Would we get out?” was the question as we watched the headlights across the valley pick their way carefully along the, as yet, uncleared roads. It was only 6am after all.
The answer was yes – and that was because we had a choice of vehicles, all from the SsangYong range with four-wheel drive and capability for just this kind of extremis.
We had driven them all over from the UK – the Turismo people carrier, the Rexton SUV, the Korando mid-sized SUV, the company’s best seller, the Tivoli, and my favourite and the one I drove most, the big rugged Musso pickup truck.
For two days, they had hauled us and our gear to the ski slopes in Morzine without a murmur. Spoiled in the morning, we threw our skis into the back of the Musso with its hardtop, taking it and the Korando to the slopes.
The advanced skiers opted for the Rexton and an earlier start for them and their skis. At the end of the day, we simply threw everything back in and headed home.
It was with some smugness too that we watched our cars start and move off
intrepidly, while other brands needed the ministrations of a battery starter. No names – no pack drill.
And we knew we had the right vehicle when we passed the Ski School of France and noticed they had two liveried SsangYongs sitting outside – a Korando 4x4 and a Turismo 4x4. In the evenings, we even managed to fit eight of us into the Turismo, for dinner at a little alpine bistro.
SsangYong have come a long way in the last few years and the success of the Tivoli shows that they can challenge the mainstream brands from their niche position as manufacturers of four-wheel drives.
Indeed, if the USA has Jeep and Britain the Defender, then SsangYong lays claim to being the Korean equivalent. They have been making all-wheel drive vehicles since 1954.
All our cars – except the Tiv – were fitted with the 2.2-litre diesel engine and all were automatics running on the company’s regular mud and snow tyres.
The Tiv was automatic too but with a 1.6-litre diesel engine, which did not seem to hamper its style at all. A top of the range ELX Style model it came with heated leather seats as standard, sat nav, a huge amount of safety kit and a full-sized spare tyre. The Turismo had big comfortable seats for everyone, with the option to remove the middle row, a reversing camera, a selectable low ratio 4x4, two 12V DC power outlets. Plus it looked good with its big rugged roof bars.
The Rexton ELX even had heated seats back and front, hill descent control and three 12V DCD outlets, and can tow three tons while its little brother the Korando can even tow two tonnes.
It had a full leather interior, rear parking sensors, cruise control and piles of connectivity.
And then there’s the daddy of them all, the Musso – which means Rhinoceros in Korean. This big boy has 178PS, selectable low ration 4x4, a payload of 1050kg, a towing weight of 3000kg, loads of off-road capability and enough room in the load bed to carry a Euro pallet. It was leather inside, easy to drive and had a fantastic drive height.
Sadly, we were not taking it out the day of the snow, although it was the vehicle that got us home the day before when the storm had set in.
Instead, the Rexton went first up the road leading from our chalet and along which we had watched neighbours struggle. Up and over it went onto the main road, taking it all very carefully around the hairpin bend and then we followed in the large people carrier, the Turismo.
As we drove, huge lumps of snow fell from the trees above, overpowered by the weight. We ploughed on and as day rose, we dropped down into the valley and left the snow behind.
It had been a salutory lesson of having the right car in the right place at the right time and even more interesting that all of these cars, including the Musso, the Turismo and the Rexton are less than £30,000.
The Korando comes in, in the top spec at less than £25,000, and you can get a Tiv with all the bells and whistles for just over £20,000 with a five-year warranty and unlimited mileage. Niche suddenly got very interesting.
Click here to download a brochure for one of our current models.