The Ssangyong Korando Sports pick-up truck gets a new name, engine and gearbox, but familiar flaws remain

What is it?

The Ssangyong Korando Sports pick-up truck proved to be a bit confusing to customers, according to its maker. After all, the Ssangyong Korando SUV in the Ssangyong line-up is unrelated to the pick-up, and labelling it with a 'Sports' moniker is fairly misleading, to say the least.

So, for this facelift, Ssangyong has erased the Korando Sports name and replaced it with Musso, a name borrowed from the first ever car it introduced into the UK in 1995, and one that the Korean manufacturer believes will be more marketable.

As well as a new name, the Ssangyong Musso gets the brand's latest 2.2-litre diesel engine (replacing the 2.0-litre diesel from the Korando Sports), a new dashboard and a new six-speed automatic gearbox, all for a price increase of around £1000 over an automatic Korando Sports. The Musso is available in manual-only and sparsely-equipped SE trim, but we’re driving an automatic version in pricier EX specification.

The pick-up segment is having a resurgence. Trucks like the Toyota Hilux, Nissan Navara and Mitsubishi L200 have all been recently updated with a clear aim to feel more like an SUV than a commercial vehicle - albeit with varying levels of success. In any case, it’s still a competitive class, and the Musso will have to prove that it offers more than just a cheap price tag to stand out from the crowd.

What's it like?

The Musso is one of the cheapest pick-ups on the market, and it comes impressively equipped. The new dashboard is a big improvement from before with its 7.0in colour touchscreen, but it still feels cheap, even if none of its rivals have particularly lavish interiors.

The Musso offers a good, high-riding driving position with a clear view of the road ahead, there’s plenty of room up front and the seats are pretty comfortable, too. However, once you start the engine, things become slightly less comfortable. The diesel engine's rattle is more subtle than before, but there’s still no doubting this is a commercial vehicle, especially when under load. 

The engine is more powerful and efficient than before, but it still feels rather lifeless if you’re in a hurry, and although no official 0-62mph time has been recorded by Ssangyong, it’s not much faster than the old model. Turbo lag means the power isn’t delivered smoothly and surges in above 2000rpm, and it doesn’t take much to overwhelm the all-wheel drive drivetrain and make it scrabble for traction.

Efficiency is better, though; CO2 emissions are down to 202g/km, and claimed fuel economy is marginally better than the old pick-up, but both are still far behind rivals. The engine remains acceptably subdued around town, and at motorway speeds it recedes to a background hum. However, the big door mirrors generate a lot of wind noise.

The Musso has multi-link rear suspension, whereas most of its rivals are on leaf springs, but this seems to have had limited positive effect on its ride. Musso means ‘rhinoceros’ in Korean, and the pick-up doesn’t feel much more agile than its animal namesake. It’s well planted on flat roads, especially when loaded, but it crashes and bounces over our imperfect UK roads.

Its steering is also feather-light and pretty numb, offering little feedback, and like many of its rivals, it suffers from quite a lot of body roll around corners. However, Ssangyong's new six-speed automatic gearbox is a genuine improvement. The extra ratio improves refinement when you're cruising and the 'box is fairly good at judging shifts by itself. 

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The automatic variant of the Musso is best for towing, too. While the new engine might not offer much more performance, it does mean that the Musso had upped its towing capacity from 2.7-tonnes to 3.0-tonnes, which is closer in line with rival pick-ups. That said, its load bay remains short on the space available in its competitors, even if it can take a comparable one-tonne payload. Still, it's easy to access, and space for a couple of passengers in the rear seats is generous. 

Should I buy one?

The Musso is still one of the cheapest pick-ups on the market, so if saving money is your top priority, then this should be your first stop. As with all pick-ups, the savings available in VAT on the Musso and low company car tax rates make it a tempting prospect as a company car choice, but it's also an enticing private buy at its low list price, especially with Ssangyong’s excellent five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty as standard.

However, you’ll have to accept the Musso's flaws, and it will cost more to run than all of its rivals because of its inferior CO2 emissions and fuel economy. Plus, its towing capacity is average for the class, and its load bay is smaller than all of its rivals', so there are plenty of other more practical choices. Furthermore, while other pick-ups such as the Nissan Navarra and Toyota Hilux are edging closer to SUVs, the Musso remains an agricultural tool. At this price, though, that’s hardly a surprise.

Ssangyong Musso EX auto

Location Towcester; On sale Now; Price £22,794 (£18,995 ex. VAT); Engine 4 cyls, 2157cc, turbo diesel; Power 176bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 295lb ft at 1400-2800rpm; Gearbox 6-speed automatic; Kerb weight 2112kg; 0-62mph 11sec (est); Top speed 108mph; Economy 37.0mpg (combined); CO2 emissions/BIK tax band 202g/km, 37%; Rivals Toyota Hilux, Mitsubishi L200

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Chris C 12 October 2016


Are manufacturers in South Africa (RHD) and Brazil (albeit LHD) are missing out on a potential market niche in the UK for smaller/lower car-derived bakkie pickups as opposed to larger semioffroad types, eg Peugeot Hoggar, Opel/Chevrolet Utility. The only thing available in the UK at the moment is the much smaller DFSK?

PS Are Great Wall pulling out of the UK due to Euro 6 compliancy?