After a long wait, the all new Ssangyong Rexton is finally here. Damien O’carroll gives it the once-over.
The large Rexton SUV had been a mainstay of Korean manufacturer Ssangyong’s line-up for some time now. So long, in fact, that it was starting to show its age in a rather drastic fashion. But now there is a new one that Ssangyong proudly claims is a segment leader. Indeed, it has even picked up a World Car of the Year nomination to back up that bold claim. And the Rexton certainly backs up that claim right off the mark with some handsomely bold lines that are undoubtedly modern, while also remaining comfortingly conservative.none of that Ken Greenleydesigned weirdness here, thank you very much. The Rexton is a big, handsome traditional SUV that looks better in the metal than it does in pictures and boasts some very nice design details. That said, however, it can look a little awkward from the rear three quarter and, while the low door handles are functionally brilliant, they do look a little odd. Inside the Rexton carries on its convincingly mature design approach, with a conventional and elegant interior that is of an impressively high quality that is reminiscent of the interior of Hyundai’s luxury Genesis sub-brand. Along with the attractive design and high quality materials, the Rexton boasts some superbly comfortable seats and a high level of standard equipment. It’s not quite all perfect, however, and there are still some flimsy plastics, albeit in out of the way places and while the artificial leather is nicely soft, it is can still get unpleasantly sticky on a hot day. The Rexton’s impressive rebirth continues under the bonnet, with Ssangyong’s revised 2.2-litre inline four-cylinder diesel turbo engine proving itself to be smooth and strong when out on the open road. Producing 133kw of power and a very decent 420Nm of torque, the engine is remarkably quiet, even at idle from the outside, while the seven-speed automatic transmission is remarkably smooth. Maximum torque is available from 1,600rpm, but unfortunately very little happens below that mark when you press the throttle, making a desperate lunge for that gap in traffic inadvisable in the Rexton, while the smooth transmission can occasionally be a bit slow witted. Out on the road the Rexton is impressively controlled and betrays very little roll for such a tall, large vehicle, however, it is here that the cracks start to appear in its otherwise convincing package, with a brittle, busy quality to the ride that disappointingly doesn’t even out – or even reduce much – at speed. The Ssangyong Rexton is what it is – a big, rugged, capable, traditional SUV that can tow, go off road and transport seven people and their luggage with ease. And as far as that goes, it does it very well indeed. It is handsome, very well built and offers extremely good value for money. While the engine is impressively smooth and quiet, and the interior beautifully put together and supremely comfortable, it is the busy edge to the ride at all speeds that stops the Rexton from being a truly convincing luxury cruiser.