‘Down to Earth’ 4×4 pick-up

by Huw Thomas, Chairman, Welsh Motoring Writers SSAnGYonG’S “Two Dragons” of korean legend symbolise a millennium’s devotion. nothing mythological about the Musso however, it means ‘rhino’ and ‘down to earth’ it is too. Initially it came here as the ‘korando Sports’ in 2012 but was unrelated to the 2010 korando itself which was the company’s first compact SuV-like crossover. Double cab only, it had some style and a fair amount of equipment as standard. To clarify things, the Musso name was revived for the pick-up for 2017. Payload was already over the 1t VAT threshold despite a load-bay not as long or wide as class front-runners. Braked trailer limit went from 2.7t to 3t – then 3.5t earlier this year. key change: a more powerful, Euro VI compliant 178ps, 2.2-litre 4-cylinder Turbo-Diesel engine to replace the 155ps 2.0L TD. Apart from improved emissions and performance, official fuel consumption figures were better. Construction is entirely traditional: body-on-frame (separate chassis) and 4×2 rear wheel drive on-road with, off it, High/Low ratio 4×4 via a transfer box. A one-engine, one-bodystyle range, models are SE and EX/EX Auto. SsangYong opted for coil rather than leaf-springs for the live rear axle in 2012 with a view to better ride quality when lightly laden. It does not seem to have delivered much unfortunately. Ride quality is poor, response to bumps or potholes harsh and juddery. Steering also is too light and uncommunicative – which does not help. Major players, such as Ford Ranger, Toyota HiLux, Mitsubishi L200 and Isuzu D-Max have an improved ride despite persevering with a leaf-sprung back axle – posh and pricey VW Amarok too. Significant step last year however was nissan’s adoption (for Double Cab variants) of coil suspension for the new navara’s live rear axle. Lightly laden pick-ups tend to be a bit ‘tail-happy’ on a wet road – Musso a case in point. Exiting a roundabout or junction, for example, will frequently have the ESP intervene to cut the power after the back end slips out a couple of feet. A light throttle pedal and (slight) turbo surge after a momentary “lag” tends to accentuate things (vehicle on test was an automatic; manual variants probably less prone to this). Those are the negatives, so what’s good? Following the departure of China’s Great Wall, Musso now takes on the mantle here of “most truck for your buck”. Price range of £16,395-£19,395 (excluding VAT) for a 4×4 D/Cab with a decent level of kit looks good. And the warranty is for five-years with no maximum mileage cap. D-Max or L200 are closest on price but soon climb away, others well into mid £20k-£30k bracket. SE comes with electric windows/heated mirrors, heated lower windscreen, AirCon, Radio-CD/iPod- Bluetooth connectivity, load bay liner and 18” alloy wheels, etc. EX/EX Auto: heated front seats, electric driver seat adjustment, auto AirCon, 7” touchscreen, rear view camera and roof rails, etc. Satnav is a £1,000 extra. A new Musso, based on the next Rexton’s chassis, is scheduled apparently for 2019. As every variant of the new Rexton will have independent rear suspension, so might the next Musso. on-road dynamics should then really improve. Meantime, deals on the current Musso are bound to be keen. Facts & Figures: 108mph; 0-62mph (unquoted but 11-12secs estimated); 37mpg (official combined figure); 27-31mpg on test (trip computer averages); CO2 202g/km; Road Tax £240 (LGV TC39 rate); Insurance Group 37A.

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