SsangYong Musso

Saracen 4x4 Auto

SsangYong Musso, side action
SsangYong Musso, front static
SsangYong Musso, rear static 2
SsangYong Musso, rear static
SsangYong Musso, dashboard
SsangYong Musso, detail

THE chap at the council tip walked over to the big Musso, laden with the assorted contents of a garden shed, and asked in a friendly manner "what sort of vehicle is that?"

Then he spotted this high riding hold-all was a double cab pick-up and promptly asked its driver to register the vehicle with the council before making a return trip to his tip.

Seems this type of machine - beloved of people who want one to share family and work duties - is seen as a bit of a freeloader in the waste disposal world, where big commercially sourced loads need to be paid for.

Still, it took but minutes to register the Musso with the council (for nothing) and it was back to the site with shed load number two. And an explanation to the chap in the high-viz suit about what he was looking at.

He'd never heard of SsangYong, the South Korean provider of bargain priced mobility from Tivoli hatchback... to the Musso you see here. But then not many people have.

Those that do know their Musso from their Navara, Ranger or L200 will appreciate that its aim in life is to wrest sales from the Nissan, Ford and Mitsubishi pick-ups just mentioned.

They will also know that most pick-ups are bought for business and that double cab versions, with four doors and two rows of seats like the Musso, can combine a hard weekday workout with weekend family time in a tax advantageous way.

Use it for business and you save the VAT for starters. Use it as a company car and a standard rate taxpayer has to find a mere £670 each year to keep the Revenue happy - a Mondeo estate would top £1,500.

So why isn't the whole world driving a pick-up? Well, there are compromises to be made if you decide a double cab fits the family bill.

Because the Musso is built to take more than a tonne of payload in the open bay at the back its suspension is firm to the point of uncomfortable on badly maintained surfaces - of which we have many.

The test Musso came with a solid load of sand bags on board, presumably in the quest for a more cushioned ride. They probably helped with comfort but not economy - which showed just 28mpg after a week of mixed motoring.

You'll also be in group 41 for insurance, the same high rolling number that attaches to a 155mph BMW 5 Series, for instance. Still, the Beemer can't boast a seven year or 150,000 mile warranty.

Show it a smooth road and the Musso, especially in well specified Saracen trim, actually feels like a lot of motor for the money.

The dash is lifted from the dearer SsangYong Rexton SUV and is both smart and well equipped, with a big sat nav display and clear instruments. There's leather trim and heated seats front and rear (cooled up front too) and lots of space to keep the family happy.

FAST FACTS

SsangYong Musso Saracen 4x4 Auto

Price: £31,433

Mechanical: 128bhp, 2,157cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 6-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 115mph

0-62mph: N/A

Combined MPG: 32.9

Insurance Group: 41

C02 emissions: 226g/km

Bik rating: 37%

Warranty: 7yrs/150,000 miles

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