It’s a bet­ter de­sign by far

Stylish tweaks and sharp pric­ing will go down well with buy­ers on this re­vi­talised model, PETER BARN­WELL writes

Geelong Advertiser - Motoring - - CARSGUIDE -

OP­ER­AT­ING at the edges of the new car mar­ket, the re­vi­talised Ssangy­ong (un­der new owner Tata Mo­tors) has in­tro­duced another “new’’ model at a sharp price.

The large Rex­ton has been around for yonks and is rel­a­tively un­changed, apart from tweaks to styling and the pow­er­train. The tweaked $39,990 Rex­ton SX gets a new four-cylin­der turbo diesel en­gine driv­ing through a fivespeed auto with se­quen­tial stick shift and gear change but­tons on the wheel.

STYLING

On the out­side you can see the link be­tween this one and pre­vi­ous mod­els – but the new ve­hi­cle is much bet­ter look­ing.

Now Rex­ton has a smart, dis­tinc­tive face and at­trac­tive sheet metal all-round. It’s high­lighted by al­loy roof rails, door courtesy lights, chrome ac­cents, LED rear lights and body-coloured hard­ware.

Yet the in­te­rior is a re­vised ver­sion of the pre­vi­ous model – func­tional, ef­fec­tive, bor­ing. It’s a seven-seater with a fold­ing third pew with rea­son­able ac­cess from the rear doors.

Up­hol­stery is leather ap­pointed. There’s plenty of kit like cli­mate con­trol, Blue­tooth phone and au­dio, cruise, al­loys, side steps, park sen­sors, hill de­scent con­trol, head­light lev­el­ling sys­tem and a mul­ti­func­tion wheel.

Tow­ing ca­pac­ity is 2.6 tonne with braked trailer.

EN­GINE

New and smaller ca­pac­ity at 2.0-litres is EU5 com­pli­ant, a bet­ter mouse trap in ev­ery way.

The five-speed con­ven­tional auto is a Mercedes-Benz de­sign – from when that com­pany had an in­ter­est in Ssangy­ong. It’s the same four-pot en­gine as in the new Ssangy­ong Stavic peo­ple mover.

It ‘s good for 115kW/360Nm out­put, which is plenty to push this al­most- two tonne large SUV around with pur­pose.

The en­gine achieves 7.8 litres/100km fuel econ­omy on the com­bined cy­cle – a big im­prove­ment over the pre­vi­ous en­gine. And it’s a bet­ter drive too, thanks to prodi­gious torque from 1500rpm to 2800rpm.

A gen­uine 4x4, the Rex­ton boasts selectable 2WD high and 4WD low and high range, avail­able sim­ply by turn­ing a dial on the dash.

UP THE LAD­DER

The old-school lad­der chas­sis con­struc­tion has plenty of ap­peal for hard-headed 4x4 driv­ers, but it means the Rex­ton will prob­a­bly only get a fourstar crash rat­ing in­stead of five.

It does score a swag of pri­mary safety equip­ment, in­clud­ing mul­ti­ple airbags and elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol.

DRIV­ING

This is where Rex­ton picks up points on the com­pe­ti­tion such as Holden’s Captiva 7, Colorado 7 and Isuzu MUX.

It rides on a sup­ple and con­trolled coil spring sys­tem. Not sporty by any stretch, the Rex­ton sails over rough roads like they weren’t there, keep­ing the big body in check at the same time.

The new en­gine is much smoother and qui­eter than the 2.7, and this adds to the ve­hi­cle’s re­fine­ment. Roll-on is strong and it has plenty in re­serve for all driv­ing con­di­tions.

The auto seems up to the job, ac­cu­rately se­lect­ing ra­tios to suit con­di­tions.

The 4WD sys­tem is easy to use when you go off-road. It has the right sus­pen­sion, en­gine, ground clear­ance and drive sys­tem to go al­most any­where.

VER­DICT

Rex­ton makes an ar­gu­ment at the price, and is a bet­ter drive than, say, Holden’s Colorado 7.

It costs heaps less too. Seven seats, it’s eco­nom­i­cal, a strong en­gine and im­proved looks.

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