The South Korean firm is eyeing a bigger slide of the SUV market and this fifth-generation model is a lot of car for the money, says Ed Coles in Shooting Times
The SUV market is bursting with choice and SsangYong has thrown an even bigger hat into the mix with its all-new SsangYong Rexton Ultimate. Previously, the Rexton was a remodelled Mercedes, but now the Korean outfit has taken charge of the whole shebang with this fifth-generation model. The Rexton comes in two versions, the Ventura and the higher-spec Ultimate. We’re taking a look at the Rexton Ultimate 2.2 diesel automatic. With seven seats and selectable 4×4, the Rexton could tick a few boxes, but can it give the big boys a run for their money?
It is a smart rig that certainly looks rather executive. The styling is modern — some interesting angles are set off with smart LED lamps, which appear to be getting smaller as their retina-burning qualities increase. The front is bold, with its large, angled bumper and massive grille. I’d argue that there’s possibly six inches too much grille, but I like the overall beastliness of it and it’s offset nicely with 18in diamond-cut alloys. The bold theme continues at the back, with twin-exhaust styling, LED lamps and a few sexy angles.
While at the back, it’s time to pull out the trusty feed bag. Clearance looks good and we have a respectable 208mm to play with, which should be more than enough to cope with a rut or lump and bump or two. At the front, it’s all covered up but I’m reliably informed there’s an eight-speed automatic gearbox and some fancy all-wheel-drive shenanigans.
SsangYong Rexton Ultimate – under the bonnet
Under the bonnet, we find SsangYong’s 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel, the E-XDI 220. The power plant produces 202bhp, 441Nm of torque and an adequate top speed of 114mph, so the Rexton should be spirited on the road. Capable of towing 3.5 tonnes, the Rexton certainly has enough power and, when paired with selectable four-wheel drive, things are looking promising.
The Ultimate comes with a smart-power tailgate, which makes things a bit more convenient if you’re loading with your hands full. Having all seven leather seats up leaves us with a bit of space, but not much — enough for a bit of shopping or three bags of wheat.
However, the Rexton turns into a bit of a Tardis. With the boot seats down, things improve remarkably and a dozen-plus bags of wheat fit in comfortably. With the next row down, we could easily double that. The boot area has more than enough room for kit or four-legged companions and air conditioning vents in the rear are a bonus.
Climbing into the heated and cooled driver’s seat, the interior is plush and comfy. As the higher-spec Rexton, it has black nappa seats, heated front and rear, posh LED lights, the fancy boot and a 9in HD display. This controls the satnav, DAB, 3D parking camera, phone and connectivity — the right amount of gadgetry.
The driving controls are user-friendly. Engine-wise, we have three settings: normal, sport and winter. They all pretty much do what they say on the tin. Winter mode starts you off in second gear and the on-board witchcraft adjusts traction to deal with icy or slippery conditions. The selectable four-wheel drive is equally simple: four low and high, or two high.
The weather had left my drive looking like the Somme. As I reversed, the suspension got my attention, but not in a good way. I can’t work out if it’s soft suspension with hard dampening or the other way round. Either way, it feels a bit jarring. You get a similar feeling at low speeds on bumpy country roads, but the handling isn’t unpleasant and it’s nimble for its size. Once you get up a bit of speed, it’s a rather smooth ride and handles well.
Although not lightning quick off the mark, it does pull well at cruising speed. Selecting sport mode livens things up and it becomes more responsive and, dare I say, fun. It’s a comfortable ride and shouldn’t leave you aching after a long journey.
Enough of this road nonsense, we’re here for the mud. Loading the Rexton with wheat and a petulant cocker, I was off to prep for the next shoot day. Riding along the stubble and gravel tracks was a relatively pleasant experience, although occasionally the suspension made me wince. Through the wood, over larger bumps and ruts, the suspension felt fine and it dealt with the terrain well, with more than enough traction to cope with the slippery bits.
Completing my tasks was easy and comfortable in the Rexton. Using it on a shoot day was successful, too. Spacious and comfortable enough with five burly beaters on board, it proved its worth on and off-road.
The SsangYong Rexton Ventura starts off at a price of £37,995 and the higher-spec SsangYong Rexton Ultimate starts at £40,665. This Ultimate with metallic paint is a little shy of £42,000. It’s incredible value for money with the level of kit and the overall quality of the Rexton. It’s definitely a lot of car for the money and, with a seven-year, 150,000-mile warranty, SsangYong is confident in its product.
Overall, I was really impressed with the modern, comfortable interior and good performance on and off-road. I can only fault it on the suspension at low speeds — and the general consensus on the front grille from my beaters was harsh, but I like it. It’s a rating of four out of five from me.
Need to know
- Manufacturer SsangYong
- Model Rexton
- Ultimate Top speed 114mph
- Power 202bhp/441Nm of torque 0-62mph 10.7 seconds
- Emissions (g/km) 225g/km
- Fuel economy Low 24.1mpg Medium 33.1mpg High 38.9mpg Extra 32.8mpg Combined 32.9mpg
- Towing weight, braked 3,500kg
- Towing weight, unbraked 750kg
- Ground clearance 208mm