Ssangyong Rex­ton

SUV equiv­a­lent of easy lis­ten­ing

Autocar - - THIS WEEK -

WHY WE’RE RUN­NING IT

To find out whether a big, sep­a­rate chas­sis, part-time all-wheel-drive SUV still has a place in the world

Hav­ing thought that the Rex­ton would for­ever con­sume at least a gal­lon of diesel every 30 miles, and of­ten no­tice­ably more, I’m now sur­prised by it con­sis­tently break­ing through the 30mpg thresh­old. True, this is hardly eco­nom­i­cal in ab­so­lute terms – and the fig­ure is aided by my driv­ing it more lan­guidly than I do most other cars – but this is un­de­ni­ably an im­prove­ment, and per­haps may yet be bet­tered. It makes the oc­ca­sion­ally ob­vi­ous short­com­ings of its olde worlde un­der­car­riage eas­ier to bear.

Mind you, a cou­ple of friends clam­bered aboard the Ssangyong re­cently and both were im­pressed by the space and lux­ury of its cabin. I then waited for them to com­ment on its ride but nei­ther did, al­though I’ve no­ticed over the years that most car users are sur­pris­ingly im­per­vi­ous to jerk­ing sus­pen­sion. I wish I could say the same for my­self, but as my col­league Steve Cro­p­ley also con­cluded, the Rex­ton’s ride forcibly di­verts you from the con­clu­sion that this is a very pleas­ingly fur­nished, tough and use­ful SUV that oth­er­wise makes a strong case for it­self. It’s also prov­ing ut­terly re­li­able and fault-free, aside from the in­abil­ity (most prob­a­bly mine) to get the in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem to im­port my con­tacts from my smart­phone.

So I have now done what blokes never want to do – look at the in­struc­tions – and dis­cov­ered that de­spite the owner’s pack con­tain­ing a hand­book as thick as a head­stone, the guide to the in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem oc­cu­pies an­other vol­ume that’s not in the car. So this will re­main a mys­tery un­til I get one.

No need to delve into the big fat book to un­der­stand the fa­cil­i­ties of­fered by the mes­sage dis­play in the in­stru­ment clus­ter, how­ever. Op­er­ated from the steering wheel, it pro­vides tyre pres­sure sta­tus, trip data, a dig­i­tal speedo, nav direc­tions and more, be­sides en­abling you to ad­just the car’s set­tings. Th­ese in­clude the de­gree of tilt you wish each door mir­ror to per­form when re­verse is en­gaged, to the vol­ume of assorted warn­ings.

You’ll be pleased to hear that the ‘com­puter-on, it’s a new dawn’ bongs con­firm­ing the ob­vi­ous – you have opened your Rex­ton’s door; you have turned on its ig­ni­tion – can be ban­ished. Still, they’re not as ir­ri­tat­ing as the pre­ten­tious ‘Power Beauty Soul’ mes­sage that used to greet As­ton driv­ers on start up, or assorted Maz­das tex­ting dash­board hel­los and good­byes at you. Am I getting cur­mud­geonly? Prob­a­bly, but the Rex­ton will ser­e­nade you with plenty more bings and bongs if you drift from your lane, fail to buckle up or gen­er­ally be­have in a way that might un­der­mine your right to sit be­hind the wheel. None of th­ese was enough to pre­vent my re­vers­ing into a painfully solid ob­ject re­cently, so maybe I should shut up.

What doesn’t make much noise is the Rex­ton’s driv­e­train, which is im­pres­sively quiet at a cruise. You can barely hear the diesel, or what must be sub­stan­tial vol­umes of air be­ing bat­ted away by the Ssangyong’s big, bluff frontage. That’s part of what en­cour­ages you to drive this car in the lan­guid way pre­vi­ously al­luded to, along with the high-al­ti­tude view, which some­times al­lows you to see a lot more scenery than you oth­er­wise would. And de­spite be­ing rea­son­ably well-en­dowed with seven Mercedes made gears, the Rex­ton is not one for dart­ing about, the trans­mis­sion quite of­ten al­low­ing the en­gine’s revs to sink well off boost.

There’s no Sport mode, al­though you can flick your way through the gears via a lit­tle tab on the gear­lever’s side. Bet­ter, though, to ac­cept that the Rex­ton is the au­to­mo­tive equiv­a­lent of slow ra­dio, en­joy the view out and in­deed, the view in, such is the lux­u­ri­ant am­bi­ence of its cabin.

Rex­ton to the res­cue: our hero jump-starts a dor­mant Citroën AX GT

Ac­cess­ing our phone’s con­tacts is beyond us; ride in rear is poor

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