The Musso is around 30cm shorter than a Nissan Navara or closely related Mercedes X-class (an advantage to manoeuvrability even if its load tray is shorter) and the lightest Musso version weighs a respectable 2155kg beside the kerb, lighter than many. The manual version’s top speed just beats 120mph, and 0-60mph acceleration is 11.6 seconds, par for the class, but off-the-mark acceleration feels stronger than that statistic implies.
Our test Musso was the most basic, manual gearbox EX, which given its price looks great value since it also comes with manual air conditioning, electric windows, remote central locking, a height-adjustable steering wheel, a DAB radio and a decent set of 17-inch alloy wheels). The most obvious 'poverty model' feature is the EX’s black fabric upholstery, but even that is impressive for comfort and evident durability.
Choose the next-up Rebel model and you get the rest of the stuff that really matters: an eight-inch central screen with Apple CarPlay, bigger alloys and special graphics. The Saracen and Rhino above get really plush: with bigger screens, built-in nav systems, Nappa leather seats and lots of upgrades to wheels (20in), graphics and roof rails. They also offer a hill descent control, though the 4x4 system is always the manual-select variety.
On the road, the Musso feels surprisingly good for a model at the very bottom of its price class. It corners with very decent grip and roll control, and the fairly light steering (and helpfully small diameter steering wheel) has better centre feel than many. Same goes for the low road and wind noise. Ride comfort only just clears the threshold of acceptability but the engine is positively zesty low down and impressively quiet when you’re cruising; the six-gear spread giving it very long legs.
For a vehicle than can carry one tonne as a pick-up and tow a 3.5-tonne trailer, the Musso feels thoroughly civilised in car mode. After a mile or two you can see its potential as a Musso is likely to work tolerably well as a family transport for tradespeople and owners who carry loads. It even looks better than most of its peers.
Ssangyong has done plenty in recent years to improve its products and build market credibility, chucking in a deeply impressive seven-year, 150,000-mile warranty. This latest Musso, even in our test car’s basic EX form, is a very good step along the road.