Korean firm’s affordable pick-up retains its rugged character but looks more premium

Ssangyong has boosted its Musso with more standard kit and an upgraded interior for 2018, increasing the value for money on offer from one of the pick-up segment’s cheapest options.

The Korean firm’s cut-price Nissan Navara alternative is due on UK roads this summer with an all-new look. Its front end bears strong resemblance to that of the Rexton SUV, with which the Musso is heavily technically related.

Using the same architecture as the new Rexton, the Musso’s body-on-frame construction is 81.7% high-strength steel. Ssangyong says this not only enhances the Musso’s rigidity for better safety but also boosts its handling and off-road abilities.

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The new car comes with an updated version of its predecessor’s 2.2-litre turbo diesel engine. The e-XDi220 unit, developed internally by Ssangyong and shared with the Rexton, produces 181bhp and 310lb ft of torque – jumps of 5bhp and, more significantly, 15lb ft on its predecessor.

This grunt enables the Musso to carry more than a tonne of weight in the back and tow a 3.5-tonne trailer. Power is channelled to a part-time four-wheel-drive system via a six-speed manual or optional six-speed automatic gearbox.

When cruising, the car can decouple drive to the front axle, making the Musso rear-drive in its most economical guise. Torque is only sent to the front wheels when necessary, although the car can be set to permanent all-wheel drive for low-grip surfaces.

Taking a Ssangyong Musso racer round Britain's Nürburgring

The pick-up’s off-road ability is helped by a 215mm ground clearance and relatively short overhangs. It measures 5095mm long and 1950mm wide, with the roofline set at 1840mm. It features a load deck with a rear door that folds flat to provide space for a full-sized Euro-pallet – the wooden base for transporting heavy goods often used by industry.

Inside, where there’s space for five passengers, Ssangyong has significantly upgraded the cabin. A more cleanly designed dash features a centrally mounted 8.0in touchscreen that’s standard, with DAB radio, Bluetooth and MP3 connectivity. High-spec models gain Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Ssangyong is displaying its new Musso at the Geneva motor show before it arrives in showrooms. Prices, although yet to be confirmed, are unlikely to change significantly from the outgoing model’s £16,795 to ensure the Musso remains one of the cheapest offerings in its class. By comparison, alternatives include the Nissan Navara, which starts at £24,280 and Ford Ranger, which opens from £22,244.

Ssangyong UK chairman Jim Tyrrell believes the company can sell around 7500 cars a year and become 'a nice little business' following the arrival of the Musso pick-up. The brand's current volume sits at around 4000 units per year, and the same number is predicted for 2018.

It's part of a wider plan for the brand under Tyrrell, who wants to simplify the spec of its models, increase the number of dealers with "family-run, countryside, 4x4 specialists - I know them all from my days at Mitsubishi 10 years ago". The plan is to have 90 dealers - 50% up from today's 62-strong network. The pick-up market represents around 50,000 cars per year in the UK; Ssangyong wants the new Musso to grab about 1000 sales per year, up from 300 today.

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Our Verdict

Ssangyong Rexton

The Ssangyong Rexton gets a refreshed look and far more luxury to go alongside its durability and cheap pricepoint, but overall it remains a determinedly old-fashioned SUV

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6 March 2018

It would be interesting to put a SSangyong through a long term test. The readers wish to know whether a cheap car may last reliably.

6 March 2018

Overall the design is quite smart, inside and out, but why does the back of the cab look like someone has taken a cheese wire to it. Agree with Sabre that a long term test would be good though Ssangyong have been making pickups for years so should prove dependable. 

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