The hurried will also discover that the Rexton can be annoyingly slow off the mark when you’re pulling out of a junction, prompting a deeper sinking of the throttle that can then provoke a gravelly scrabble from the inside rear wheel. So it’s not always restful, and certainly not speedy.
You won’t be pushing it to the limit on back roads, either, although some experimentation on a gravel road induced an amusing little drift, curtailed by the stability control system. The Rexton runs in rear-wheel drive, incidentally, unless you select all-wheel drive or low range. So there’s scope for more serious offroad work.
For the moment, though, the Ssangyong is scoring points for its usefulness, cabin ambience and cruise-along character.
ELEVATED VANTAGE POINT The cabin layout is almost entirely an ergonomic delight. Only the ease with which the hazard lights button can be knocked on detracts.
FLAT-LINING ECONOMY Fuel consumption of 29.7mpg doesn’t look like it will improve much now the Rexton is run-in.
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Welcoming the Rexton to our fleet – 28th March 2018
Whatever you think of Ssangyong, there’s no denying that the company’s new Rexton four-wheel drive is a vehicle of intriguing contrasts.
It has a finely appointed interior crammed with modern electrical tech, yet there’s an old-school rotary knob allowing you to switch between rear-wheel drive, four-wheel drive and low range. It has a rather 20th-century separate chassis, above which sits a modishly sumptuous quilted leather interior.
So this is your big, tough SUV in the form that most of these beasts used to come in, underpinned with box-section steel reinforcements that would have been familiar to Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
South Korean Ssangyong is now well into a recovery drive under the apparently benevolent wing of Mahindra & Mahindra, racing to catch up with competitors after bankruptcy protection and takeover. It’s also aiming to find itself a viable niche in a crowded automotive world. Rather than battle the major SUV makers head-on, the Rexton sits in an increasingly lonely slot occupied by rugged 4x4s with a separate chassis and the ability to tow 3.5 tonnes in sometimes arduous conditions.
Unless you’re happy to drive a crew-cab pick-up truck – indeed, the Rexton shares its foundations with just such a vehicle, in the shape of the new Musso – your only similarly constructed alternatives are the ageing Mitsubishi Shogun, the utility Jeep Wrangler, Toyota’s Land Cruiser or the Mercedes G-Class.
But as Ssangyong points out, there’s a market for a tough SUV that can play the mule, and the firm has ambitions to take a slice of it, aided by the fact that this much-improved Rexton provides equipment and furnishings that are entirely contemporary. So, all versions have autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane departure warning and traffic sign recognition, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a rear-view camera, auto headlights and wipers and at least eight airbags, for a price that starts at £27,995.