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 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 Musso gets Ssangyong’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.