What is it?
The Ssangyong Rexton (yes, that’s Rexton) is the Korean firm’s flagship 4x4. Tested here as a £24,995 special order model, it’s packed to the roof with TV screens, heated leather seats (front and back) and reclining rear seats; it’s a Tesco Value Range Rover if you will.
Just one engine is offered in the line-up and it’s a familiar unit. It’s the same 2.7-litre block you’ll find in the first generation Mercedes ML270 CDI, which produces 186bhp and 284lb ft of torque. The Rexton’s Merc links don’t end there, as its five-speed automatic gearbox is pulled straight out of the German car.
At 4720mm long, 1870mm wide and 2100kgs in weight, the Rexton is a colossal machine. Put into context, that makes it just 143mm shorter than a Transit van and as heavy as a Jeep Grand Cherokee. The Rexton’s also capable of towing up to 3200kgs, which Ssangyong is keen for you to know. By comparison, a £70k Range Rover only musters an extra 300kgs of pulling potential.
What’s it like?
Fire up the oil-burner and Merc’s five-pot diesel hum is instantly recognisable. Progress is more willing than you’d expect from a car of these proportions, but the five-speed ‘box is too hesitant to call the Rexton’s performance swift. The gearbox is also too indecisive during typical town driving, struggling to select a lower gear quickly enough when called upon. Slide the lever into Tiptronic mode, however, and you can change gear manually via buttons on the steering wheel or a suspicious-looking nipple located on the gearbox lever.
Lumbering over potholes and broken surfaces is where the Rexton feels at home. An exceptionally soft ride and 18-inch alloys clad in 255/60 R18 rubber make this 4x4 a comfortable cruiser. The payoff, however, is a comical amount of body roll, which you’ll experience through any corner. Drive too eagerly around a bend and unremitting understeer is also a problem. Both of these issues aren’t helped either by exceptionally light steering (as light as a Range Rover’s, in fact) and its slow steering rack.
Cabin refinement is decent enough, but the interior plastics feel flimsy. There’s also a good deal of movement in the auto ‘box if you swirl the lever in a circular motion; something tells us that this car hasn’t been screwed together as well as the big players, but at this price that’s no surprise.
Where the Rexton excels is interior space. With a 1338-litre boot capacity, the 4x4 offers 344 litres more space than the Range Rover. Rear passenger legroom is also impressive and that goes for the front’s, too.
Should I buy one?
If you’re after a well-equipped, imposing and comfortable 4x4 that you can use to tow a house down the motorway, then absolutely. Granted, it’s not as refined as other cars in its class, but the fact that it uses Merc’s trusty old block and gearbox makes it a reliable, go-anywhere budget tank.
SsangYong Rexton 270 EX Auto
Price: £23,995; Price as tested: £24,995; Top speed: 116mph; 0-62mph: 11.6sec; Economy: 30.1mpg; CO2: 250g/km; Kerb weight: 2101kg; Engine: 5 cylinder DOHC common rail, 2696cc, turbodiesel; Power: 186bhp at 4000rpm; Torque: 284lb ft at 1800-3250rpm; Gearbox: 5-spd automatic