This is the new Ssangyong Musso, a pick-up truck from a brand that, unless you’re an avid caravan enthusiast, likely sits towards the periphery of your automotive awareness.
And that’s not just this tester being a smart alec, either; the Korean manufacturer freely admits that a large part of its UK customer base consists of buyers after a tow car that can pull their home on wheels.
It’s this hard-working, dependable character of Ssangyong’s vehicles, coupled with genuine off-road ability, that has led the brand to dub itself the ‘Korean Land Rover’. The new Musso, whose name translates from its manufacturer’s mother tongue as ‘rhinocerous’, is set to build on this fledgling reputation.
Just like the rhino, Ssangyong says, the Musso is tough, durable and powerful. That rhinos are also a pretty rare sight in the UK conveniently wasn’t included in the marketing spiel, but it was made clear that the new pick-up is expected to help the brand reach its 2018 goal of 10,000 units sold in the UK - up from just 4000 in 2017.
Sitting on the same body-on-frame architecture as the latest Rexton large SUV, the Musso can tow trailers weighing up to 3.5 tonnes, while its load bed is rated for up to one tonne. Power comes from a 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine that develops 179bhp at 4000rpm and 295lb ft from 1400-2800rpm.
This is sent to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission, while selectable four-wheel drive and a low-range ‘box are also present. Suspension, meanwhile, is of double wishbones at the front and coil springs at the rear.
Is the Musso all business, or can it ride well on the road?
Ssangyongs of old were often questionable not just in terms of their on-road manners, but also the quality of their interiors and their design (the Rodius was particularly wretched to look at). The new Musso switches that up and makes a very good first impression.
It's externally attractive in an alternative and quirky sort of way, while its interior is a genuinely appealing place to spend time. That’s not just against your typical pick-up offering, either; it gives some proper SUVs something to think about.
There’s loads of space in front and back, comfortable and supportive leather seats and no shortage of standard equipment. The tested Saracen model gets a responsive 9.2in touchscreen infotainment system with sat-nav, Bluetooth, a DAB radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as heated and ventilated seats, a heated steering wheel and 20in alloys.