Initially, there will be a choice of two SAIC derived engines: a 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol engine and a Euro 5 complaint 2.0-litre diesel unit. There will be six-speed manual and five-speed automatic gearbox options. The hybrid technology is said to be close to production, but no on-sale date has been set.
“The C200 represents a big step forward for the company,” said Williams. “It’s 90 per cent production ready and the quality is a big step forward on what Ssangyong has had in the past. It’s the first time we’ve had a monocoque vehicle in our line-up, and the platform can be used for front and four-wheel drive vehicles, so it will form the basis of more models.”
Autocar understands that the recovery document submitted to the Korean courts outlines the launch of five new Ssangyong models. The company has not committed to a timeframe for the launches due to the uncertain economy, but the second new model will go on sale in 2011, and the rest will follow within the next five years.
No specifics on the vehicles have been released, but they are expected to include all-new replacements of the current Kyron, Rexton and Rodius, plus the C200 and a family-sized car. Further details will be made public once the Korean courts clear the way for Ssangyong to resume trading outside of its adminsitration.
“The company has looked at all the key sectors and targeted them,” said Williams. “It needs to get on the road to recovery as fast as possible, and in many ways the time in receivership has helped that process, as it has been able to prepare the production lines for the switchover to new vehicles.”
A production version of the C200 will be shown at the Frankfurt motor show in September. Styled by Giugiaro’s ItalDesign in Italy, it has a 2.65m wheelbase and an overall length of 4.4m. The car will undergo Euro NCAP crash testing before going on sale.
“The C200 is vital to Ssangyong’s future,” said Williams. “The court administration time should be a watershed for the company, It has reduced its staff count 34 per cent, sold off its unwanted assets and got itself strong for the current market. By grasping the nettle and sorting itself out, Ssangyong is poised to reap dividends.”
Williams added that Ssangyong will continue with its policy of under-cutting rivals, despite the C200 representing better quality.
“We’ve got to be aggressive and reflect the perceived lack of credibility of the brand,” he said. “The car has been benchmarked against the likes of the Nissan Qashqai, Toyota Rav 4, Kia Sportage and Ford Kuga, and we want to attract buyers who would normally consider those types of cars.”