Motoring Writer IAN LAMMING takes on the world in the latest SsangYong Rexton
I’VE now entered the realms of those drivers who clock up serious miles. Can’t be helped; it’s the life I’ve chosen and whether I feel tired at the end of a 1,200-mile week or not definitely depends upon the quality of the test car.
This particular week also saw the family travel the country to play rugby – well at least one of us played while the rest of us watched, shouted and tried to keep warm.
On top of all that, the SsangYong Rexton had to compete with a brace of supercars.
So, how did it all go? Magnificently is the answer. Right from the word go – travelling home after driving the Lamborghini range – life was sweet.
Rexton is a leviathan, simply huge and has comfortable levels akin to those of a luxury coach. Heading home along the motorway it was relaxed, comfortable and economical. It was so easy to drive that it was like being chauffeured and home arrived in the swiftest of times.
It was the same after rugby. Nithered to the marrow, but buoyed by the boys’ magnificent performance, it was time to crank up the heated seats and steering wheel and let the Rexton get us home. Brilliant.
The weather? Hasn’t been great has it? Floods then frost and ice. You’d think it was winter or something. Don’t care. I’m in a gargantuan SUV with a well-proven 4×4 which shrugged off the skating rink conditions with aplomb.
And it is robust. When the road rage driver in the battered Defender took the mirror off, squeezing by impatiently when there wasn’t enough room, I simply folded it back into place with no damage done. KKU, now that’s a distinctive registration number. Who is pathetic now?
In a world gone crazy, when full-sized SUVs set you back 50-180K, the SsangYong is incredibly sensibly priced at a fiver under £39K. With uncertainty in the wind, Rexton could really cash in here.
In every respect the Rexton offers stunning value for money. Firstly, it is immense and therefore extremely practical.
Build quality is peerless. This is not cheap and cheerful but ultimately flawed. It is good value, superbly built – reflected in the five year warranty – with comprehensive specification, including excellent infotainment, silky smooth Mercedes automatic gearbox, and swathes of Nappa leather. There is never any feeling that corners have been cut; quite the opposite in fact, with SsangYong demonstrating what can be achieved in a car costing less than £40,000.
So Rexton not only matches the competition and beats it on price, it also surpasses them in key areas. This is a proper off-roader where many SUVs on our roads have gone soft. The 2.2 litre diesel is extremely powerful and will tow 3.5 tonnes. Those who pull boats, trailers and caravans are going to love it.
Rexton also boasts the most flexible of transmissions; so it will chug along in two wheel drive in normal conditions for maximum economy, but will also switch to four wheel drive high and low ratios for the tricky stuff. It even has a diff-lock for the most challenging of surfaces. With leisure, lifestyle and unpredictable weather patterns at the forefront of many buyers’ minds nowadays, these features are real deal-makers.
Rexton is huge but somehow manageable, more so than a premium SUV I drove recently which was half the size but strangely difficult to handle particularly when trying to judge where its extremities lay. Rexton is a doddle to manoeuvre, a breeze around town and even stress-free on single track roads because you know with this amount of ground clearance and 4×4 you can leave the tarmac if necessary to allow oncoming vehicles to pass by.
Ride is controlled and the steering positive so it feels comfortable and self assured through the bends.
Rexton is such an impressive car in every way and the perfect companion when there are big mileages to be driven, inclement weather to be endured and road rage drivers to be confronted.
SsangYong Rexton 2.2 Ultimate
Engine: 2.2 litre turbo diesel
Max Speed: 115mph
0-62mph: 11.9 seconds
Max towing weight: 3,500kg
Transmission: seven speed Mercedes E-Tronic
CO2 g/km: 213