By Patrick James on 2018-02-10 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
SsangYong Musso EX
SSANGYONG is not a name that is instantly familiar.
Although the Korean manufacturer has been around for a while, with some quirky and frankly strange looking creations, it has yet to capture the public's imagination.
Even less so with the commercial vehicle/lifestyle set, where the likes of Mitsubishi and Toyota pick-ups have traditionally ruled.
That is changing with the likes of VW and even Mercedes coming to the party. But the Korean firm's offering has plenty going for it, not least the price.
At just £20,000 inclusive of VAT for the base model, and a five year, unlimited miles warranty, the Musso, apparently Korean for rhinoceros, it is a mightily tempting proposition.
Pick-ups are very much in vogue as a lifestyle vehicle as well as doing what they were originally designed for - to be a workhorse.
But now, particularly in the double cab format of this range-topping model, they offer car like driving manners, high-levels of comfort for five and reasonable running costs and yes, it is still a rugged, go anywhere workhorse where needed, whether it be transport for a builder, a farmer, country sports types or getting the surfboard to the waves.
Although the Musso is more compact than its competitors, it has good carrying capacity.
The high-torque engine also means towing capability is equally impressive with a 3.5 tonne capacity. It has a one tonne payload and the the cargo bay is designed to accept a standard sized pallet, so commercially it ticks those boxes.
It you want to attract the lifestyle set, it needs to look good and it does, particularly with the optional hard cover to the cargo bay, which gives it more of an SUV look. With its swooping bonnet with neat grille and headlights, daytime running lights, large air scoops and impressive alloy wheels, it looks the part
The interior also looks good, is well equipped and has high levels of comfort including leather upholstery on this model.
This range-topper offers an array of creature comforts more commonly found on executive cars, with auto lights and climate control, rain sensing wipers, plus heated electrically operated front seats and reversing camera, a real boon with vehicle of this size.
It has to be said the layout is not the most logical, with a seeming scattergun of buttons and knobs, but controls are legible and easy to use, with a seven-inch colour touchscreen the centrepiece, which controls navigation, sound system and connectivity.
The engine is also impressive, the 2.2-litre diesel has an output of 178ps and plenty of torque to go with it - a very healthy 400Nm which gives excellent pulling power across the range. With a claimed mpg of approach 40mpg, it is also pretty frugal on the juice.
It is pretty refined and perky as a full day's driving across a variety of roads proved. Mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox - a six-speed manual is available - it displayed excellent car like road manners thanks to the coil spring rears suspension normally found on cars. The main drawback is the light steering, which is excellent for manouevering in tight areas, but feels vague at higher speeds.
Off the road with the lack of a differential lock, it might struggle to tackle the really rough stuff, but with a choice of two wheel and high and low ratio all wheel drive, it should be more than capable unless you are on a polar icecap or trekking through the Amazon jungles.
SsangYong Musso EX 4WD auto
Mechanical: 175bhp, 2,157cc, four cylinder diesel engine driving all wheels via 6-speed auto gearbox
Max Speed: 108mph
Insurance Group: 37.2
C02 emissions: 202g/km
Warranty: 5yrs/unlimited miles
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