Rare new Rhino

spotted on UK roads

SsangYong Musso Rhino, 2018, front, static
SsangYong Musso Rhino, 2018, front
SsangYong Musso Rhino, 2018, front, action
SsangYong Musso Rhino, 2018, side
SsangYong Musso Rhino, 2018, side, action
SsangYong Musso Rhino, 2018, rear
SsangYong Musso Rhino, 2018, badge
SsangYong Musso Rhino, 2018, lights
SsangYong Musso Rhino, 2018, tail bars
SsangYong Musso, EX4
SsangYong Musso, rear seats
SsangYong Musso, front offroad 3
SsangYong Musso, front offroad 2
SsangYong Musso, front offroad
SsangYong Musso, rear offroad
SsangYong Musso, dashboard
SsangYong Musso, front seats
SsangYong Musso, EX 1
SsangYong Musso, EX 2
SsangYong Musso, EX 3
SsangYong Musso, side action

WHEN it's a car name you have probably never have heard of - and certainly can't spell - you need to get yourself noticed.

How about a warranty that stretches over seven years and 150,000 miles? Like to learn something about the vehicle that covers even its radio against failure until 2025? Thought so.

Well, it's called a SsangYong Musso, it's made in South Korea and it's available for less than £20,000 to a business user who will put this no nonsense pick-up truck to work.

But back to names. Musso is Korean for rhino, which tells you what its maker wants us to think of this newcomer; tough enough to ford rivers and laugh at roads rutted deeply enough to give an army jeep pause for thought.

And like a rhino it's a rare sight. Last year SsangYong sold only 3,996 new vehicles of all sorts in the UK and only a slice of those were the old model Musso.

This year a new business plan that hacks back at unprofitable sales in areas like daily rental and Motability will see still fewer new SsangYongs hit the road, but hopefully making solid money in the process.

To do that they'll need some vehicles we might want to buy. One arrived last year in the imposing shape of the SsangYong Rexton, an SUV that comes very well equipped for the price and drives not quite as nicely as its dearer European and Japanese rivals.

Now we have the Musso, using the Rexton's 2.2 litre diesel engine, tough chassis and drivetrain but adding a big load bay that turns SUV into pick-up with the ability to carry more than a tonne of payload - with happy financial consequences to a person who buys one for business.

The four-door cabin has rear seats amply roomy enough for a couple of burly men or three people who chomp fewer chips when they down tools at dinner time.

It's a big machine - at 5,095mm rather longer than a Bentley Continental - and there's talk of a still longer model later this year for users who simply need even more load space.

Without the need to pop VAT on the bill a new Musso can be yours for £19,995. Like dearer versions (they stretch to £28,495 for a thoroughly well equipped limited launch edition Rhino version) it will tow a 3.5 tonne trailer if you add £1,250 worth of automatic transmission in place of the standard fit six-speed manual, which manages 3.2 tonnes.

Talking of Rhino (which makes that particular Musso a 'rhino rhino'), the newcomer's different grades come with the mandatory-for-a-pick-up roll call of butchness, with Rebel and Saracen above the plain Jane EX entry level vehicle.

The EX comes with 17ins alloy wheels, DAB audio and Bluetooth, electric windows, remote central locking (including the tailgate), air conditioning, auto wipers and lights and a full sized spare wheel.

Move to the Musso Rebel (£22,495 ex VAT) and you add bigger alloys, roof rails, upgraded audio with Google CarPlay and Android Auto, reversing camera, heated and ventilated front seats, side steps and even a heated steering wheel.

Leather, powered front seats and heated rear seats are part of the £24,995 Saracen's package along with TomTom navigation, cruise control and bright finishes to things like side steps, mirrors and door handles.

Pinnacle of the range is the limited edition Rhino at £28,495. Kit includes metallic red or black paint, automatic transmission, 20ins alloy with chunkier all terrain tyres and touches of black on side steps, rear corners bars and a black load deck bar complete with LED lights. So, not the version for the shy and retiring.

Pick any new Musso and you'll have a machine that hides its utilitarian purpose rather well before a bad patch of road presents itself. Until then, the cabin is notably hushed place to spend your working day and looking and feeling smarter than you might expect from a pick-up workhorse.

Performance is good enough for you not to notice (121mph top speed for the manual, 115mph for auto but no quoted acceleration figures) and the ride is a bit jiggly, but acceptable, on better road surfaces.

The rear suspension struggles more on rougher roads, being tamed a bit with 700kgs of concrete blocks in the load bay but never settling confidently. Already SsangYong is looking at changing the rear springs to provide a more settled ride.

The Musso recorded 35.8mpg (32.9mpg auto) in the official tests; a mixed test route saw 31.2mpg on the trip computer. Exhaust CO2 figures of 211g/km (226g/km auto) would mean expensive road tax if the Musso was a car - but its light commercial vehicle status brings a flat rate of £230 a year.

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