The SsangYong Rexton is a big, old-fashioned four-wheel-drive SUV that will appeal to those who would not or could not consider the more refined alternative of a modern ‘soft-roader’, whether through a dogged determination not to follow the herd or because of enforced financial limitations.
SsangYong’s relaunch in the UK, with the appointment of a new importer, means the Rexton has also received a specification makeover and is now presented in a clear, two-tier trim hierarchy – S, available with a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic gearbox, and EX, driven here, which is take-it-or-leave-it auto only.
Power still comes from a version of Mercedes’ previous-generation 2696cc five-cylinder CDI diesel engine producing 163bhp and 250lb ft of torque while consuming a claimed 30.1mpg on the combined cycle (32.8mpg for the manual S version) and emitting 250g/km of CO2 (dropping to 229g/km for the manual).
The Rexton is a crude device by modern standards — not least those set by its domestic rivals Kia and Hyundai – but it is still up to serving as an effective workhorse for those able to accept its compromises. It remains a proper off-roader, complete with a pukka four-wheel drive system, decent ground clearance and reasonably effective traction control.
That Merc-derived engine remains the highlight of the dynamic experience, delivering decent urge and driving smoothly via the standard five-speed autobox and accompanied by a gravelly resonance in the cabin.