Road Test With the Wrekin News motoring editor Syd Taylor
SsangYong Musso Sracen Auto
f it’s a feast of motoring bargains you want and you relish individualism, then the advice on the street is to ‘go east young man’ (or woman) where the sun is rising on real bargains. The highly competitive LCV market has, indeed, been rocked to its foundations by the new SsangYong Musso - a cracker of a pick up that does all you would wish and more to an astonishing degree, given the remarkably attractive price of only £26,245 (excl. VAT) for the highly specified Saracen variant tested. Not yet a mainstream marque in this country, SsangYong is - for the moment - a bit of a secret, but it’s rocketing ahead.
Hard choices face todays hardworking families - especially when the chief bread-winner is self employed. it’s sometimes just not possible to keep a family saloon running at the same time as a utilitarian work mobile, so it’s heartening to find a new manufacturer with a growing reputation stepping in to fill the gap. ‘But a workhorse’ I hear you say ‘Is not made for jolly boulevard cruising on sunny afternoons in Bournemouth. Utility has to trump sybaritic serenity’. That’s not the case with the new Musso. You get your cake and you can eat it as it manages to be everything to all people.
As a workhorse it’s as durable as saddle leather. But more: it has the versatility to double-up if need be, as a lively, family friendly - dare I say it - almost a fun car. Years ago pickup drivers - who were usually unshaven and displayed a gluteal cleavage - were incarcerated in a spartan cell on wheels, but now comfort and style for them and their rear seat passengers ride high. On the outside there might be that glamorous Schwarzenegger sheen of a Mister Universe contender but the interior is another matter. Nothing effete you understand but everything is effortlessly smart and comfortable. The Saracen specification is loaded with top electronics, climate control, reversing camera and power this’n that plus it has leather seats (Heated at the front).
You could go to The Palace in a Saracen - not only to point the crumbling brickwork but to collect your MBE with the wife alongside and the kids in the back. keeping with the manufacturers aim to please customers with sometimes almost contrary notions of their requirements, it is designed in such a way as to embody sleekness with robust beefiness beneath the skin. For instance, its ladder chassis is massively strong and made from top grade ultra strength steel so there will be no collapsing rotten chassis rails with one of these. The strength, of course, equals top rigidity and little flexing. SangYong confidence is reflected in the seven year warranty. Whichever way you make your appraisal it’s sure to please the commercial customer, the County Set AND the private buyer. With brawny beauty the high and mighty up-rearing of metallic majesty gleams with uncompromising purpose and with all terrain tyres on 20” bright alloys, tubular side steps, a front metal skid plate and Saracen graphics, you’re very much aware of admiring glances.
To a vicars wife it might want for gentility but for a beefy builder like my pal Walter Wilson, the new Musso Saracen is built to impress, with an image that will brook no nonsense. And no nonsense is what this double cab is about, with a payload of 1085 kgs and a braked trailer load of 3,500 kg. By the golden gloves of Hercules this is one pick-up that’s hard to resist! It has a delightful 181PS SsangYong manufactured 2.2 litre Euro 6 diesel engine that’s barely above ticker (no wonder the combined mpg figure can be near 36) at motorway speeds as it rides beautifully on suspension that smooths away carriageway carbuncles. If you really want to hurry you can reach about 115 mph and enjoy swapping the ratios manually in the six speed auto box - but it’s best left in auto to do the job for you - changes are so smooth.
And importantly, a lot of off-road capability comes at the twist of a dial into 4wd high or 4wd low. Put your Stetson on and it sure rides the rugged trail ike a ramrod drover. “My word” exclaimed Walter “Not a single one of my fillings has been dislodged.” I smiled and put on an album of his favourite band, Shock of Ages and selected the track ‘Lodestar’. A load of heavy metal? As nothing to the new Musso Saracen.
It’s a treat to drive. For a Korean manufacturer to know just what’s needed north of La Manche is remarkable. I can well believe that it will put rivals in a spin, counting stars as they pirouette on the receiving end of SsangYong’s knockout punch in managing to combine car-like characteristics with pickup capability.
Thanks again to that rear suspension with coil springs and double wishbone independent suspension at the front, handling is excellent for a pickup. Call me biased if you will but the Musso has bowled me over. My friend Wilson (with one ‘l’ that is) shook his head and lamented that if only they had those in his day the pound in his pocket would be spent on this rocket. I’ve often said that a tough workhorse is preferable to a flightsome filly - and my experience with the Musso amply endorses the view. Here is a vehicle worth the most energetic applause - and one that’s surely destined to put rivals in the shade.