PICK-UP INSPIRED BY RHINO ARMOUR AIMS TO BLEND WORK WITH FAMILY
The Ssangyong Musso hopes to build on the reputation set by the Korando Sports. Has it succeeded? Andrew Evans finds out
The Musso is largely an updated version of the Korando Sports pickup, but with a new name brought back from Ssangyong’s past. Musso — Korean for ‘rhinoceros’ — brings not only an exterior update and rebadge, but also a new engine, the Euro 6-compliant 2.2-litre E-XDI diesel.
This can be paired with either a 6-speed manual or a new 6-speed automatic from Aisin.
The new engine brings an improved punch that improves the towing rating and brings a mild boost to the combined fuel economy of around five per cent, but performance is unaffected.
LOOKS AND IMAGE
If there’s one area that the Ssangyong brand really falls short on at the moment, it’s image. Of all of the Korean vehicle manufacturers that have reached the UK, Ssangyong is the one that has made the least positive impression — largely because it’s stuck to making large SUVS and utilitarian machines like the Musso Pickup. This means the Musso has very little street cred, but for the most part it’s just as good to look at as its rivals — at least on the outside.
The redesigned cabin looks interesting enough, with an asymmetric set-up that proves a little awkward to use at first and has a few strange details. While the switchgear feels solid enough, the overall quality of the cabin isn’t up to scratch yet — but then the same can be said of some pricier alternatives.
SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
There are no questions about the Mus- so’s practicality credentials. We haven’t measured up the seat dimensions, but it’s almost a moot point — the cabin is vast and even three abreast in the back isn’t that much of a problem. This makes it great for family use.
The load bay behind you is proportioned to fit a standard Euro pallet, with a total of 2.04 square metres of area to play with.
The 1,312 litre bed is fully lined, with tie-down points inside the bay too, so you can pack any load you want to safely.
A range of load covers are available too, so you can use it as a secure load area or put a camper back on it for your dogs, for example.
Total payload is one tonne — the same as its predecessor — while the Musso can now tow up to three tonnes, bringing it into contention with more expensive rivals.
BEHIND THE WHEEL
Unlike the majority of vehicles in the pickup sector, the Musso makes use of independent rear suspension. This gives it a surprisingly compliant ride, whether running empty or with the load bay pushed to its one-tonne limit — we also tested the car with a load bay full of gravel just to make sure.
Without the extra weight, the Musso can get a little soggy over bumps, but by and large it’s better than rivals that stick to more basic suspension.
The steering is somewhat mushy and vague though, so if you have any ambitions to press on down a country road it’s best to put them on the backburner.
At speed there’s rather a lot of wind noise, coming from those huge wing mirrors, but it’s expected for this type of vehicle.
Otherwise it’s happy to sit at motorway speeds with little fuss, albeit with a little bit of body roll if you make too quick a lane change.
In EX specification you gain a reversing camera and it makes the pretty bulky Musso a breeze to park — particularly with that light steering. It would benefit from front parking sensors to judge the nose a little better.
VALUE FOR MONEY The Musso range starts from £15,995 (excluding VAT) and comes equipped with 18” alloy wheels, leather-look seats, front and rear electric windows, power folding door mirrors, manual air conditioning, CD & RDS Radio with ipod & Bluetooth connectivity and a multifunction steering wheel.
Our EX Auto specification vehicle adds black 18” alloy wheels, roof rails, leather seats — heated in the front and electrically adjustable for the driver, a 7” touchscreen for operating the infotainment, rear view camera with parking sensors, front LED daytime running lights, auto headlamps, rain sensing wipers and cruise control, for £17,995.
The 6-speed automatic gearbox is a £1,000 option, so the car comes in at £18,995 (excluding VAT). Metallic paint is a £500 option, with a Kenwood touchscreen that brings DAB and navigation also available as a £999 option.
WHO WOULD BUY ONE? If you’re self-employed and have a family, the Musso Pickup makes a lot of sense. Alongside being cheap — particularly if you can claim the VAT back — and practical, it’s roomy and comfortable enough to accommodate the kids when not put to work. Specify the optional load cover and the dogs can come too.
VERDICT Ultimately the Musso Pickup proves a commendable all-rounder, but loses out to most of its rivals in most areas. The engine and gearbox, particularly the automatic, are a huge improvement and certainly bring the Musso into consideration, with the good ride brought by the multilink rear suspension proving something of a boon. All other considerations aside though, the price is very compelling.
The are plenty of added extras included in the cockpit of the Ssangyong Musso, even aside from the multifunction steering wheel