Ssangy­ong Rex­ton

The Rex­ton was once viewed as a bit of a joke – but no-one’s point­ing and laugh­ing at the lat­est model from the Korean car maker, says Char­lie Flindt

The Field - - Country Estate -

When we tested the first Rex­ton many years ago, it was an in­ter­est­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. As it rolled and wad­dled its way up the mo­tor­way to the fab­u­lous free­bie Ssangy­ong had laid on for us, other driv­ers pointed and laughed. not just be­cause it had trou­ble keep­ing in lane; it was, frankly, hideous.

Well, to mis­quote Bob Monkhouse: they’re not point­ing now. The lat­est Rex­ton looks rel­a­tively bland – a sign of how Korean styling has been brought more up to date, more main­stream. True, the rear quar­ters have too much metal and not enough glass, and the front grille is a bit of a mess, but there’s noth­ing (ex­cept a set of ghastly chrome wheels) to in­duce a dou­ble take.

The theme con­tin­ues in­side. It’s a lot bet­ter than it used to be but there are still taste-free zones, such as the quilted leather and ter­ri­ble wood trim. But it’s com­fort­able and space is vast. My only in­te­rior grum­ble in­volved the small win­dows: the el­bow was up­hill from the shoul­der when pot­ter­ing round the farm sur­vey­ing one’s acres with the glass wound down.

The re­ally good news is that the Rex­ton is up to date but not that up to date. Ssangy­ong has stuck with a sep­a­rate chas­sis, a hi/lo box with op­tions limited to, er, high and low. There’s no ab­surd menu of ter­rain choices fea­tur­ing cacti and moun­tains; it’s no-non­sense, old-school sim­plic­ity.

For those who in­sist on fling­ing their SUVS round moun­tain bends while avoid­ing the prick­les, this is bad news. For those of us need­ing to tow 3.5 tonnes to Sal­is­bury mar­ket at sen­si­ble speeds, or look­ing for a bit of ex­tra grip in the Au­gust rains, it’s just the job. no menu re­quired. Tow­ing the fuel bowser through sticky woods to the com­bine, even rear-wheel, two-wheel drive did well on those sen­si­ble choice tyres – and the chrome wheels were soon a mud-splat­tered mem­ory.

even the en­gine has a slightly old-fash­ioned feel to it: four cylin­ders, huge amounts of low-down grunt and a gruff­ness that’s easy on the ear. It pro­pels the enor­mous Rex­ton with ease up to re­spectable speeds. The sus­pen­sion feels a bit un­easy at medium speeds, hit­ting lumps and bumps with a cu­ri­ous springy firm­ness. Keep­ing the mud-plug­gers and the bend-flingers happy is not easy.

Per­haps the only thing I miss about the old Rex­ton was the si­lence; the new one bings and bongs and plays in­fu­ri­at­ing lit­tle dit­ties as you get in, or stop the en­gine, or open the door, or just about any­thing. I don’t think I’ve ever shouted at a car to STFU so much. It also had a ‘lane de­par­ture warn­ing’ that sug­gested Korean lanes are a lot wider that ours. no doubt a cou­ple of hours with a tech-savvy teenager and the hand­book would nail most of these but, mid-har­vest, I just shouted. It was ac­tu­ally ther­a­peu­tic.

We liked the Rex­ton: it’s a fan­tas­ti­cally ca­pa­ble old-school beast of a four-wheel drive. My fear is that one day we’ll climb into a new model and find a cac­tus icon on the gear­box. Un­til then, we can en­joy this one.

For those of us need­ing to tow 3.5 tonnes to Sal­is­bury mar­ket, it’s just the job

Clock­wise from above: too many bings and bongs; the writer is not keen on the front grille; the in­te­rior is spa­cious

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.