No ner­vous herd men­tal­ity here

GOR­DON HALL rates the Ssangy­ong Ac­tyon Sports as a dou­ble cab

Weekend Witness - - Weekend Motoring -

THE name is barely pro­nounce­able and looks Chi­nese, but SsangY­ong ac­tu­ally hails from Korea, and since Fe­bru­ary 2011 has been owned by Mahin­dra.

Cur­rent petrol and diesel en­gines are ap­par­ently sourced in-house, although an un­spec­i­fied Euro­pean co­op­er­a­tion is ad­mit­ted to.

The pick-up was ex­ten­sively restyled in time for the 2012 Frankfurt Mo­tor Show. It needed it.

It now looks more con­ven­tional, which is good, be­cause manne don’t like be­ing seen in any­thing really dif­fer­ent. It’s that ner­vous herd men­tal­ity your boss calls “be­ing a team player”.

The new e-Xdi200 two-litre diesel puts out 10 kW and 50 Nm more than the old en­gine did, while max­i­mum torque kicks in ear­lier.

SsangY­ong says it also im­proved the Ac­tyon Sports’s NVH, with a new en­gine cover and a dou­ble-layer con­struc­tion and sound­proof­ing for the dash­board, along with slanted en­gine mounts to min­imise vi­bra­tion.

Stan­dard equip­ment in­cludes a sixspeed man­ual trans­mis­sion (fivespeed on the petrol model), two air bags, elec­tron­i­cally switch­able 2H, 4H and 4L drive modes, ABS, man­ual air con­di­tioner, 16” al­loy wheels, ra­dio and CD player with USB and aux­il­iary, key­less en­try, pow­ered win­dows and mir­rors, and an im­mo­biliser with alarm.

The range-top­ping 4x4 diesel gains a few ex­tra toys, in­clud­ing ESP, au­to­matic air con­di­tion­ing, 18-inch wheels, cruise con­trol, a backup alarm, leather cov­ers for the steer­ing wheel and gear knob, and fog lights at the back.

Speak­ing of the back, you will find that the bin, while deep, is no­tice­ably smaller than that of some com­peti­tors. Specif­i­cally, it’s 1 275 mm long, 1 600 mm wide and 525 mm deep.

It’s rated at only 383 kg, but to­tal car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity with pas­sen­gers is still a pretty de­cent 860 kg. Gross braked tow­ing mass is 2 300 kg.

The rea­son­ing is that be­cause this is pri­mar­ily a leisure ve­hi­cle, load­ing space could be re­duced to make the cabin big­ger.

The SA Stan­dard Tall Pas­sen­ger ap­proves. He al­lo­cated 10 points out of 10 for head, knee and foot room. He also found that he could get in and out with­out bump­ing head, shoul­ders or hips while do­ing so. Why can’t all dou­ble cabs be like this?

On that sub­ject, the new diesel en­gine is smooth and quiet, gear­ing is fairly rest­ful at about 2 600 rpm for 120 km/h in top, it rolls on nicely at nor­mal cruis­ing speeds and you never get the feel­ing that you’re en­dur­ing some­thing agri­cul­tural.

It drives like a car, in fact. Out on our favourite pro­vin­cial dirt road, in­de­pen­dent sus­pen­sion with dou­ble wish­bones in front and a five-way mul­ti­link setup at the rear, pro­vided an al­most featherbed ride, while main­tain­ing good di­rec­tional sta­bil­ity. For a body-on-chas­sis dou­ble cab, that’s ex­cel­lent. It’s ca­pa­ble, too.

Our first off-road chal­lenge was a steep, softly sur­faced and rut­ted hill that had de­feated a bench­mark Ja­panese high-rider 4x2 a day ear­lier.

With 4Low en­gaged and just enough mo­men­tum to keep go­ing, the climb was ac­com­plished eas­ily — al- most a non-event.

We aren’t punt­ing the SsangY­ong as a new won­der ve­hi­cle; we’re sim­ply say­ing it can keep up with es­tab­lished dou­ble-cab play­ers.

Af­ter that, the re­main­ing trails were just plain boy­ish fun, although we did man­age to stall it a cou­ple of times while driv­ing gen­tly. Op­er­a­tor fail­ure or not quite enough torque just off idle: who knows?

Over­all, the Ac­tyon Sports is ev­i­dence that af­ford­able off-road func­tion­al­ity does not have to equate with noisy, clunky diesels, cheap and rock­hard sus­pen­sion or pla­s­ticky in­te­ri­ors.

Your bar­be­cue bud­dies prob­a­bly won’t ac­cept it be­cause it doesn’t fit the es­tab­lished mould, but that’s just their ner­vous herd men­tal­ity isn’t it? (Test unit courtesy of SsangY­ong Pi­eter­mar­itzburg @ 310 Hoosen Haf­fe­jee Street.) The num­bers Price: En­gine: Power: Torque: Zero to 100 km/h: Max­i­mum speed: Real-life fuel con­sump­tion: about Tank: 75 litres Ground clear­ance: Ap­proach/de­par­ture/ breakover an­gles: War­ranty: Ser­vice plan:

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

Geared and sprung to be used pri­mar­ily as a leisure ve­hi­cle with a spa­cious cabin, the Ac­tyon Sports can keep up with es­tab­lished dou­ble-cab play­ers.

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