Hey, nice nose job! Enter the new Ssangyong Musso.
AFTER NUMEROUS CRACKS AT OUR MARKET, SSANGYONG IS LEANING ON SHARP PRICING AND SEVEN-YEAR WARRANTIES TO CLAW BACK ONTO PEOPLE’S SHOPPING LISTS. IS IT ENOUGH?
KOREA’S third biggest brand has been in and out of Australia more times than the Libs have had prime ministers, but it’s back for what it reckons is a proper swing at the Australian market. It’s now a factory-backed operation, and its management reckons it can surprise one or two of the industry’s smaller players within a couple of years.
As part of its three-pronged re-engagement with Aussie punters, the Musso (Korean for rhinoceros) dual-cab ute will be expected to carry much of the weight when it comes to moving metal in the showroom. A few of you might remember the Musso Sport and Actyon Sport – and probably with not much fondness. Styling could only politely be known as polarising, while its range of hand-me-down Mercedes motors meant that Ssangyong wasn’t much missed when it exited our market in 2016.
Well, a lot has changed in just a couple of years, and the reborn Musso ute is pretty well-equipped, offers half-decent powertrain specs, and has lost much of the visage that used to terrify the robber’s dog. As well, it’s offering sharp pricing and a warranty package that’s the best in the ute business.
Exterior-wise, Ssangyong has calmed the design farm a lot over the last couple of years, especially around the front of the car. It’s still not contemporary by any stretch, but Ssangyong has banished the sloped nose and goofily oversized headlights to the bad idea pile. It now sports a nose job that is less rhino and one of the most conservative across the sector, with a minimum of chrome and a dearth of sharp lines and angles.
The theme carries around to the large but simple tail-lights and low-fuss bumper arrangement, though the designers couldn’t resist the urge to add a large character line along the sides that looks a bit out of place from some
angles. However, the new bumpers contribute to a reasonable set of approach, rampover and departure angles (22.8, 23.0 and 23.4 degrees respectively), while a ground clearance of 215mm beneath the axles isn’t too bad, either.
At 5095mm long it is 185mm shorter than a Mitsubishi Triton, and it’s slightly narrower, too. That odd-looking tray is 1300mm, a surprising 570mm deep and 1570mm wide. It’ll take a 3x3m folded shade on the diagonal, and the depth of the tub – about 45mm higher than the Triton – helps to keep gear out of sight. A version with a 1600mm long tray arrives early in 2019, and the width and height will remain unchanged.
Under the bonnet lies an in-house 2.2-litre single-turbo four-cylinder diesel engine, with 15.5:1 compression, timing chain and direct injection. It offers up 133kw at 4000rpm and puts out 400Nm between 1200 and 2000rpm. On paper it comes up a few Isaac Newtons short on its competitors; blame that on the factory torque limit on the six-speed Aisin auto. The same engine makes 420Nm in the Rexton, which uses a different seven-speed slusher.
Fuel economy numbers are pretty sharp for the 2192kg Musso, with Ssangyong claiming 8.6L/100km for the auto and 7.9L/100km for the manual. It’s got a 75-litre tank, as well.
The driveline is part-time 4WD, with a locking diff out back and a dial-operated low- and high-range function. Our tester had a pretty primitive hill descent control, which had a bit of a mind of its own at times. Suspension is coil springs all ’round, with struts up front and a live axle at the rear that’s fitted with disc brakes. It’ll still tow a claimed 3500kg (auto gearbox; the manual isn’t rated yet), thanks to an Australia-only spec towbar, and it’ll handle 790kg of payload on top of that.
In a few of months, Ssangyong will add a 300mm-longer tray to the range, which will be