by Huw Thomas, chairman, Welsh Motoring Writers
PICk-uPS, in one form or another, have featured in SsangYong’s line-up since 1993. Sometimes badged Musso Sports or Actyon Sports elsewhere, confusion was added by the existence of a Musso SuV also from 1993 which lasted until 2005.
‘Musso’ became settled as the pick-up name during the time of the two models prior to 2018’s new vehicle. The immediately previous model saw payload capacity up-rated to 1-tonne which established light commercial vehicle and VAT-exempt status for business purposes.
Payload for the new Musso (6-speed manual) is 1,095kg with a braked trailer weight maximum of 3.2t. Opt for the 6-speed auto and it’s 1.085kg but braked trailer max of 3.5t. A
combined payload-trailer capacity of 4.5t+ (albeit auto only) is class-leading but
the manual is not far behind at a combined (just under) 4.3t. So, on that
score, working credentials are certainly established.
Construction is conventional: body on frame (separate chassis);
independent front suspension and beam rear axle but with coil springs rather than the more traditional semi-elliptic leaf set-up. SsangYong actually was first with this ahead of Nissan’s current Navara.
Double cab, five-seat format the cabin is (to revive a quaint turn of phrase) ‘nicely appointed’. Front seats are very comfortable especially if height adjust is there for the passenger too – top two models have it. Space and comfort for those in
the back is pretty good for this type of vehicle. Driveline is also conventional: a 4-cylinder, 2.2-litre, 181ps Diesel with high and low
ratios via a transfer box. The 4×4 is part-time: 4×2 rear wheel drive on-road/normal conditions with 4x4HR or 4x4LR for snow and ice or heading off the tarmac.
Although not untypical, it is a pity 4x4HR on-road is not available (Mitsubishi’s L200 ‘SuperSelect’, for example) – a real asset in the wet, when pressing on or towing. The Musso does not offer a mechanical diff lock but the electronic traction control is of use with Hill Descent Control also standard.
Ground clearance at 21.5cm (8.5”) and a wading depth of 35cm (just under 14”) is not
exceptional so not ‘front row’ in that regard. This might be due to it being based on the chassis (and underpinnings) of the Rexton ‘SuV’ (albeit a proper 4×4 not some ‘soft-roader’).
The upside is a degree of comfort and refinement unexpected in a credibly tough pick-up at this price point. The engine is smoother and quieter than its 4-cylinder rivals but the autobox can be hesitant at times although a manual override switch on the side of the ‘stick -shift’ is simple and intuitive. The manual ‘box would be better.
Steering is quite well judged – not too light but car-like (rack & pinion set-up). It’s sufficiently direct without being too sensitive off-road and (on-road) cornering is pretty predictable. Early evaluation did lead to some criticism of ride quality despite the coil-sprung back end –
company responded and modifications have been made.
‘Truck on test’ came with a 275kg ‘ballast’ which clearly improved things. Besides, in “real life” few pick-ups would run
around entirely unladen. Overall then the Musso passes muster as a relaxed ‘touring car’ and does a commendable job squaring the circle of working vehicle and SuV/Crossover replacement for those after something more authentic. Either way SsangYong’s latest pick-up does definitely pull its weight.
SSANGYONG MUSSO (REBEL).
Model Range & Competition: ‘EX’; ‘Rebel’; ‘Saracen’*; ‘Rhino’*; £19,995-£28,245 (OTR ex VAT) £23,933-£33,833 (inc VAT); * ‘Built-in’ SatNav std. Mitsubishi L200; Isuzu D-Max; Ford Ranger; Toyota HiLux; Nissan Navara.
Facts & Figures: Musso Rebel auto (on test) £23,745/£28,433 (Manual £1,500 cheaper); No SatNav (disappointing) except via iPhone connectivity; 115mph (121-man); 0-62mph not quoted (c13 secs est ); MPG 32.9 – 35.8 (official); 27-28 (on test) with a Trip Computer best average of 29.1; VED Band 250; Ins Grp 40; Max Towbar load 120kg (Towbar + electrics £431+VAT); Warranty 7-years/150,000 miles.