WITH growing numbers of savvy small business folk taking advantage of the attractive VAT exemptions of pick-up trucks these one time workhorses have become regarded much more as lifestyle vehicles in recent years.
More and more buyers have latched onto the savings to be made in buying and running such motors as company cars but, as a result, increasingly expect their trucks to double up as the family wheels too.
A relative unknown in this market is the SsangYong Musso, which hit UK roads in 2018 and is up against some serious competition in the shape of big-hitters like the Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux and Volkswagen Amarok among others.
The still relatively unknown South Korean 4x4 specialist has slowly been gaining a foothold in the market, particularly among the towing fraternity, and with its competitive pricing the Musso characterises the brand's value-for-money mantra.
Based on the brand's flagship Rexton SUV, with the same architecture, shared styling and well-appointed interior it is a truck which offers many car-like qualities, including surprisingly good driving manners.
You can have an entry-level EX model from as little as £21,995 with the VAT exemption - although admittedly this is a sparsely equipped version aimed at the more traditional pick-up buyers who spend their time driving around building sites or farms.
Those wishing to use the Musso as a family car will realistically need to step up to Rebel or Saracen versions, which add the creature comforts and technology you would expect to find in an SUV, hatchback or saloon - and even some that you wouldn't.
The Range-topping Rhino variant brings even more kit but also comes with a larger load bed, the biggest in class, and due to its increased dimensions is probably only worth considering if you really need the extra cargo capacity. Even this model, though, comes in at just under £30,000 with the tax break.
The Saracen model we tried is a more manageable size, however, still has great load-carrying capacity and features pretty much all the equipment you need, including leather upholstery, air conditioning, touchscreen infotainment system, Apple and Android smartphone connectivity, rear-view camera, power adjustable front seats, heated front and rear seats and cruise control - all for £28,595 excluding VAT.
There are some cheaper, scratchy plastics in evidence around the cabin, but this is a pick-up and some durability is to be expected. Generally, though, it is a comfortable space for travelling with room for five - although rear legroom is a little tight - and descent storage for all of their knick-knacks,
Power comes from a 2.2-litre turbocharged diesel engine, producing 181PS, which in Rebel and Saracen cars can be mated to six-speed manual or automatic gearboxes while the EX gets the manual only and the Rhino exclusively features the automatic.
It provides enough pulling power to haul a 3.5 tonne trailer while simultaneously carrying a 1,095kg load and, although not really a pick-up requirement, also serves up some punchy and smooth acceleration.
It's surprisingly refined too, not whisper quiet, obviously, but engine noise is certainly not as intrusive as you would expect from a truck and less so than in most of the Musso's more expensive rivals, even when pushed hard.
Light, precise steering makes driving and manoeuvring this sizable chunk of metal fairly straightforward and body roll is pretty well contained while the selectable 4x4 system offers reassuring on and off-road capability.
Power is delivered permanently to the rear wheels and front wheel drive dialed in electronically as required, with high and low ratio settings available as conditions demand. The system also includes hill descent control and hill start assist.
Backed by a reassuring seven-year, 150,000-mile warranty, the Musso may not have a big brand name but it does have plenty of qualities that make it a seriously credible, value for money alternative to those that do.
£34,248 (£28,595 excl. VAT)
181ps, 2,157cc diesel engine driving all wheels via 6-speed automatic transmission