What is it?
The Ssangyong Rexton (yes, that’s Rexton) is the Korean firm’s flagship 4x4. Tested here as a £24,995 special order model, it’s packed to the roof with TV screens, heated leather seats (front and back) and reclining rear seats; it’s a Tesco Value Range Rover if you will.
Just one engine is offered in the line-up and it’s a familiar unit. It’s the same 2.7-litre block you’ll find in the first generation Mercedes ML270 CDI, which produces 186bhp and 284lb ft of torque. The Rexton’s Merc links don’t end there, as its five-speed automatic gearbox is pulled straight out of the German car.
At 4720mm long, 1870mm wide and 2100kgs in weight, the Rexton is a colossal machine. Put into context, that makes it just 143mm shorter than a Transit van and as heavy as a Jeep Grand Cherokee. The Rexton’s also capable of towing up to 3200kgs, which Ssangyong is keen for you to know. By comparison, a £70k Range Rover only musters an extra 300kgs of pulling potential.
What’s it like?
Fire up the oil-burner and Merc’s five-pot diesel hum is instantly recognisable. Progress is more willing than you’d expect from a car of these proportions, but the five-speed ‘box is too hesitant to call the Rexton’s performance swift. The gearbox is also too indecisive during typical town driving, struggling to select a lower gear quickly enough when called upon. Slide the lever into Tiptronic mode, however, and you can change gear manually via buttons on the steering wheel or a suspicious-looking nipple located on the gearbox lever.
Lumbering over potholes and broken surfaces is where the Rexton feels at home. An exceptionally soft ride and 18-inch alloys clad in 255/60 R18 rubber make this 4x4 a comfortable cruiser. The payoff, however, is a comical amount of body roll, which you’ll experience through any corner. Drive too eagerly around a bend and unremitting understeer is also a problem. Both of these issues aren’t helped either by exceptionally light steering (as light as a Range Rover’s, in fact) and its slow steering rack.
Cabin refinement is decent enough, but the interior plastics feel flimsy. There’s also a good deal of movement in the auto ‘box if you swirl the lever in a circular motion; something tells us that this car hasn’t been screwed together as well as the big players, but at this price that’s no surprise.