SsangYong Rexton

Ultimate

SsangYong Rexton, front
SsangYong Rexton, dynamic
SsangYong Rexton, profile
SsangYong Rexton, rear
SsangYong Rexton, interior

THERE'S no shortage of SUVs on our roads these days but very few offer the specific talents of the Ssangyong Rexton - and none for the same price.

The Rexton has genuine off-road smarts, is an impressive tow-car, can carry up to seven people and costs from as little as £28,995.

When it hit UK showrooms in late 2017 it also raised the bar considerably in terms of style and quality for South Korean 4x4 specialists Ssangyong - still a relatively unknown name to car buyers here.

Those who had heard of the brand probably associated it with somewhat drab, utilitarian motors which sat firmly in the cheap and cheerful category.

But while the pricing is still very competitive, the Rexton is now a modern, good looking, imposingly proportioned vehicle that drew plenty of admiring glances and comments during my week behind the wheel.

And in range-topping Ultimate trim, yours for a recommended retail £38,995 before you start haggling, the interior quality genuinely approaches premium territory.

Okay, it's not a Mercedes or Audi, but with quilted nappa leather upholstery, ambient lighting, power-adjustable heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, automatic dual-zone air conditioning and rear privacy glass this is certainly a classy way to travel.

It's also a spacious one, given that the Rexton is nearly five metres long and two metres wide. There's plenty of wriggle room up front and in the back three adults sit abreast comfortably, with no transmission tunnel for the one in the middle to negotiate either.

Equipment levels are upmarket too, with an intuitive 9.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system on board that includes navigation, digital radio and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

You also get cruise control, a powered tailgate, autonomous emergency braking and a reversing camera with 360-degree around view monitoring - very useful when parking a car of the Rexton's dimensions.

Strangely, the flagship Ultimate is the only model you cannot have with seven seats, which are fitted as standard on the entry-level EX version and available as an option on mid-range ELX cars.

The absence the flip-up, third-row seats, though, means that those who opt for range-topping spec can take full advantage of the Rexton's boot space which ranges from 820 to 1,977 litres, with the 60/40 split rear seats folded down.

Despite, it's modern looks, more comfortable cabin and high-tech gadgetry, though, the Rexton relies on some old school underpinnings - resting on a ladder chassis usually reserved these days for pick-up trucks and, indeed, used on SsangYong's own Musso workhorse.

This is evident in a more agricultural and cumbersome feel from behind the wheel, steering that is a little vague and a ride which is on the firm side but is also a key factor in the Rexton's towing prowess - it can haul up to 3.5 tonnes of braked caravan, trailer or horsebox - and off-road capability.

SsangYong has more than 60 years of four-wheel drive experience to draw upon and the selectable 4x4 system will cope with terrain that would see off many ‘soft-roader' rivals - allowing the driver to switch between rear and all-wheel drive to suit conditions as well as low-ratio all-wheel-drive (AWD) when the going gets particularly tough.

Just one engine is used across the range, a 2.2-litre diesel unit which kicks out 181ps but, more importantly, offers plenty of grunt from as little as 1,600 revs. It's mated to a seven-speed automatic gearbox borrowed from Mercedes in range-topping cars.

Under sharp acceleration the powerplant is noisy and the gearbox slow to react but, driven sensibly, the combination works well and progress is smooth and refined, with motorway cruising handled with particular aplomb.

Fuel consumption and carbon emissions, at a claimed 34.8 miles per gallon and 213g/km respectively, are the Rexton's main shortcomings but rivals with similar capabilities fare no better really in these areas and cost more to buy.

FAST FACTS

SsangYong Rexton Ultimate

Price: £38,995

Mechanical: 181ps, 2,157cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 7-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 115mph

0-62mph:11.9 seconds

Combined MPG: 34.8

Insurance Group: 32

C02 emissions:213g/km

Bik rating:37%

Warranty: 7yrs/150,000 miles

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