Ssangyong Rexton EX Auto 7-seat review.
For – well priced, comprehensive equipment, tough, great warranty.
Against – dodgy looks, some old technology, unknown brand.
Competition – Hyundai Tucson, Nissan X-trail, Mazda CX-5, Ford Kuga, Volkswagen Tiguan, Audi Q3, Volvo XC-60, BMW X1, Honda CR-V, Skoda Kodiaq, SEAT Ateca, Mercedes GTA, Jeep Cherokee
The first thing to be said about the new Rexton full sized SUV is the bravery of its Korean owners venturing into this already crowded space with a product without much of a profile.
To trigger sales it must be one of three things – a) a compelling buy in terms of price, b) a compelling buy in terms of quality or technology or c), so cute buyers can’t help themselves.
The Rexton is firmly in category “a” and definitely not in “c” but is it good value enough to turn buyers away from impressive and proven SUVs like the Skoda Kodiaq, or the Mazda CX-5? Will its ruggedness, off-road ability, warranty and 7-seat option single it out for attention?
The Rexton’s plus points do in fact include a compelling price with plenty of equipment, but the negatives won’t help. Its old-fashioned ladder frame construction gives it poor handling and ride, and this factor is the more surprising given the modern and impressive monocoque construction of the smaller, older Tivoli. This is a negative which won’t, probably, put off potential buyers lured by the package itself and the ruggedness in particular. Apparently its market has always been with farmers anyway, who relish its impressive towing and go-anywhere ability.
Rexton prices start at £27,500 and range up to £37,500. All versions have a 2 litre diesel, 4-wheel drive and an optional 7-speed automatic transmission. Ssangyong describes its looks as “gracious” but that seems a strange choice of words. It has a pre Kia-Hyundai Korean ungainly look about it, but it’s not too ugly to put off convinced buyers, who might perhaps describe its looks as quirky. There’s a big list of standard equipment, and it has a 5-year limitless mileage warranty. Now you’re talking, Ssangyong!
Steve Gray, marketing director of SsangYong Motor UK, points out Mahindra of India has made a big investment in the company.
”Following hard on the heels of Tivoli when SsangYong set new standards for value-priced compact SUVs, new Rexton is further evidence of the brand’s re-generation after Mahindra made significant investments in the company. It demonstrates the rapid progress being made as a specialist producer of 4x4s and SUVs,” Gray said.
“Rexton is the second addition to our all-new model line-up. SsangYong is committed to introducing a new car every year for the next three years, which includes a pick-up truck derived from Rexton early in 2018. The company is also focused on creating further growth by developing petrol powered, EV and other eco-friendly vehicles.”
“For what is generally perceived as a value-brand, I think everyone will be astonished by the quality of this new car – it’s a huge advance,” Gray said.
There are three versions from launch – the Rexton EX, ELX and Ultimate. The EX comes with seven seats, the option of 6-speed manual or 7-speed automatic transmission, 17” alloy wheels, manual air conditioning, smart audio system with 8” screen, power/folding door mirrors, front & rear parking sensors, automatic headlights and wipers, cruise control, and electronic safety features including forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking system, lane departure warning, high beam assistance, and traffic sign recognition. The price is £27,500.
The ELX has seven seats and adds 18” alloy wheels, dual zone & rear air conditioning, Tom Tom navigation with a 9.2” screen, speed sensitive power-assisted steering, heated steering wheel, rear privacy glass, napa leather upholstery, heated and powered front seats, Smart key, electro-chromic driver’s mirror, and nine airbags, and is priced from £32,000.
Step up to the Rexton Ultimate, and you get a 7-speed automatic transmission as standard, five seats, 20” alloys, HID headlights, LED fog lights with cornering function, interior mood lighting, stainless steel door finishes, 3D around-view monitoring, land change assist, blind-spot detection, and rear-cross traffic alert, quilted nappa leather, heated and ventilated memory power seats, and ‘smart’ electronic tailgate. Price £37,500. That’s a lot of stuff for the money.
SsangYong cars are manufactured in South Korea by SsangYong Motor, which is 73 per cent owned by the Indian engineering conglomerate Mahindra & Mahindra.
What to buy?
It is hard to decide which sector the Rexton competes in. It is big enough to challenge the big Kia Sorrento, but it’s priced more to the sector below, like the smaller Ford Kuga. Unlike say the Skoda Kodiaq, there’s no messing about with 2-wheel drive versions. This is a 4×4. Period. It is certainly very well equipped and already has a niche reputation amongst farmers as a rugged, go-anywhere, tow anything, work-horse. It has an awesome guaranty, which might be a deal maker for those seeking value. If there is a dealer near you, check out its SUVs. The Tivoli certainly looks very nice and it has more modern technology than the Rexton.
Cut it aint.
Ssangyong Rexton EX Auto 7-seat
Engine: 2.2 litre, 4-cylinder diesel
179 hp @ 4,000 rpm
420 Nm @ 1,600-2,600
Acceleration: 0-60 mph 11.9 seconds
Top Speed: 115 mph
claimed combined 34.8 mph
CO2: 213 g/km
Length: 4,850 mm
double wishbone/10-link independent suspension
5 years unlimited mileage
Competition: Hyundai Tucson, Nissan X-Trail, Mazda CX-5, Ford Kuga, Volkswagen Tiguan, Audi Q3, Volvo XC-60, BMW X1, Honda CR-V, Skoda Kodiaq, SEAT Ateca, Mercedes GTA, Jeep Cherokee, Kia Sorrento
For: well priced, comprehensive equipment, tough
Against: dodgy looks, some old technology