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Ssangyong’s kicking up the dust

January 2019

ROAD TEST by Nigel Burton

Ssangyong’s new Musso
Price: £23,693 as tested

SSANGYONG is certain the Musso will put the cat among the pigeons in the pick-up class by offering car-like driving manners at a bargain-basement price. Although it sticks with the Musso name the new pickup has far more in common with Ssangyong’s range-topping SUV, the Rexton. In fact it shares the same Musso body-on-frame construction, cabin and four-wheel-drive system as Ssangyong’s flagship 4x4.
Ssangyong is standing behind the Musso with a classleadingwarranty package: a full 7-year/150,000 mile warranty. That’s a very impressive guarantee for a vehicle that’s likely to be used as a workhorse and should give prospective owners bags of confidence in the Musso’s quality.

ON THE ROAD
Beneath the bonnet is SsangYong’s trusty 2.2-litre diesel, as found in the Rexton, married to a six-speed automatic gearbox. It delivers its maximum power of 181ps at 4,000 rpm and maximum torque is available from 1,600 to 2,600 rpm. The engine’s a bit clattery from cold, but quietens down nicely when it is warm and pulls like an absolute train - 400Nm of torque makes easy work of the heaviest load (up to one
tonne). Not for nothing is Ssangyong the world’s largest manufacturer of tractors. On the motorway it’s turning over at just 1,500rpm at 70mph so it’s fair quiet at speed - although some wind noise from the big mirrors and a bit of road roar from the tyres can be heard. It’s a bit bouncy on the move but, somehow, that doesn’t seem to matter so much in a pick-up than it does in the Rexton SUV and the back axle calms down if you chuck a tonne of bricks in the flat bed. In fact, the Musso has a surprising level of interior refinement as well as a great infotainment package. It’s perfectly capable of travelling long distances comfortably and you won’t feel as though you’ve been riding inside a tumble drier when you reach your destination. You can thank the polyester wheel-arch linings, better engine bay sealing to improve sound, dust and waterproofing, fourfold door sealing and new style wiper blades. The Musso features a selectable 4x4 system with power delivered permanently to the rear wheels, and front wheel drive dialed in electronically as required, with high and low ratios available as on and off-road conditions demand. The system includes hill descent control and hill start assist to provide optimum grip, traction and safety.

ON THE INSIDE
Designed to carry passengers in comfort and transport loads securely, the SUV-based Musso combines a five-seat crew-cab body style with a deep load deck that will take a full-sized Euro pallet. From the front seat the Musso is indistinguishable from the Rexton. The fascia is nicely styled and well-finished. Some of the plastics are a bit hard (particularly the door cards) but Ssangyong has tried to lift the otherwise dreary ambience with widespread use of leather and some sensible colour choices. And before you mark it down for a lack of slush-moulded plastics it’s as well to remember that the Musso is supposed to be a working vehicle. Away from the building site, the Musso can genuinely pull double-duty as a family car.  There’s plenty of room for the driver and four adult passengers in the Musso.In fact, the Ssangyong has one of the roomiest interiors in its class.

WHAT YOU GET
Nappa leather seats can be found on the top of the range model for added luxury and comfort. DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity feature across the range, while all but the entry level model feature a state-of-the-art infotainment system that includes an 8-inch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Wi-Fi mirroring, or a 9.2- inch screen system with TomTom navigation on top line models. Most models feature heated
front seats which on the top models are also ventilated and electrically operated to make long journeys more pleasant whatever the temperature, together with a leather covered and heated steering wheel. Other standard features include an adjustable tilt & telescopic steering wheel, electric windows, cruise control, central locking and air-conditioning with fine dust filters. About the only thing I missed was reversing radar, although the colour camera makes an acceptable substitute.

PRACTICALITY
The Musso has a one tonne payload and 13.5-tonne towing capacity so it’s perfect for caravanners. The load bed is equipped with a tough fitted load liner, a 12V/120W power outlet and rotating hooks to help strap-down loads such as tools and equipment.

RUNNING COSTS
Ssangyong reckons the Musso can manage 37mpg combined. The best I saw was 36.1mpg but the overall mpg figure after 900 miles of testing was 34.2mpg.

THE VERDICT
The Musso is a bargain. For less than £20,000 you get a rugged pick-up with a premium cabin and lots of standard equipment. It’s not the fastest nor the most economical vehicle in its class, but the Musso has huge potential to make a real splash. This could well be a sleeper hit.

SPEC:
Engine: 2.2-litre, four cylinder, turbo
Power: 178 bhp
Torque: 400Nm
Top speed:108 mph
0-62mph: n/a - but it’s slow
Fuel cons: 37 mpg (official)

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