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?

4 x 4 Australia - - Contents - TIM ROB­SON

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

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