This Car Review Is About: The redesigned SsangYong Rexton. It’s part of a three model range from the Korean car maker, with the Musso and Tivoli the other two. The Tivoli is to be replaced by a name semi-familiar to Australians in the form of Korando. Under The Bonnet Is: A diesel engine for the Limited. The Euro6 compliant 2.2L pumps 133kW and 420Nm through a Mercedes sourced eight speed auto, down to the rear wheels or all four in a high and low range choice. The transfer case is engaged via an electronically operated system, accessed by a jog dial in the console. The torque is available from 1600 through to 2600rpm. Go for the petrol fed powerplant in the lower models and the gearbox is from Aisan.
Combined fuel consumption is rated as 10.4L/100km, with 13.9L/100km in the urban drive cycle. Get out on the highway and SsangYong says 8.4L/100km. AWT finished on 10.9L/100km from the 70L tank for a mainly urban drive.
On The Inside Is: A superbly appointed cabin, complete with a diamond stitched quilt pattern in the leather adorning the seats and dash. There is a splash of faux wood in a grey plastic which both contrasts and complements, somehow, the dash design. Otherwise, there is a swathe of alloy hued accents in the doors housing the tweeters for the sound system and the three memory settings for the driver’s seat. The seats themselves are super comfortable, with plenty of padding and support. Heating and venting is a smart choice for the Australian spec cars and there’s heating to a Goldilocks temperature steering wheel. It’d be even better if the tiller itself was thicker to hold. It’s a seven seater too, with the third row fully folding and easy to operate via the pull strap system. The rear windows have privacy glass and do a great job of keeping Sol’s UV rays at bay from the side.
The centre dash section is akin to the other Korean brands. A clean layout to the switchgear for the anciliary controls and again in an alloy look adds an extra touch of class. The eight inch touchscreen looks good but doesn’t have satnav, nor does the audio side feature DAB. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay stand up to offer those services instead. The driver has a full colour screen as well, and the speedometer offers three different looks, along with tyre pressures, audio, and more. The gear selector has a toggle switch for manual shifts, and its both plasticky in feel and a little awkward to operate. There’s also a 360 degree camera view system installed and Rexton gets LED lights inside and out, including the glowing sill plates.The rear and middle rows get their own aircon controls, with the cargo section seats having a simple dial and a pair of twist operated vents. There’s a separate cargo cover that’s a bit fiddly to operate. The centre row gets an additional extra, a power socket that for the Aussie market needs an adaptor if you’re looking to plug in a cooling unit or a generator. A cooling unit isn’t a bad idea, in context, as the full length glass roof in the Limited has a thin white cloth shade and heat builds up quite easily.On The Outside:Is a completely revamped look. It’s not unfair to say the SsangYongs seen previously were ugly, very ugly. The Rexton looks more like a “traditional” SUV and is a big unit at that. It stands over 1.8m, is knocking on the five metre long mark, and is close to two metres wide. This adds up to plenty of interior space and an imposing presence on road. Rubber is big and comes from Kumho. Wheels are chromed alloys and the package on the Limited is 255/50/20.
The doors and wing mirrors feature LED lighting and the headlights have high intensity discharge lamps, as well as LED driving lights. It’s a far more cohesive look than the previously far too angular version Black urethane highlights the wheel arches and joins each end along the body. Some gentle curves in the sheetmetal lend an extra softness to the look, and draw the eye towards the front doors. The rear door is power operated and opens up to reveal a maximum of 1806L of space when the rear and centre rows are folded. Access to the centre and front seats is easy thanks to the wide opening doors but a little bit of gymnastics is required otherwise to enter the rear.Out On The Road It’s: An 80/20 mix. Eighty percent pretty good, dragged back by the twenty percent not so. Of real note is the horrendous lag from a standing start. Even though there is 420Nm available from just 1600rpm, getting the engine and turbo to spool up feels like watching paint trying to dry on a damp autumnal day. It’s an unusual feeling considering most diesels now don’t have that gap between the press of the pedal and forward motion. Once on tap though, the Rexton, which weighs around 2100kg, has some seriously good hustle.Load up the go pedal with a heavy right foot, and the drive system gets that 420Nm through to the rear rubber which will happily chirp the tune of wheelspin momentarily. The traction control gives it a second or two before there is the briefest of powerflow interruptions and the big rubber hooks up. The steering then becomes the second part of the equation. It’s a loosely connected sensation, with what feels like a half turn for a quarter turn of the front wheels left and right. There is a mechanical feeling to it, with a sensation of no damping in the setup. This means that the road surface and the engine’s vibrations are transmitted through and there is extra steering movement and adds a measure of twitchiness.
The ride is on the hard side, but doesn’t mean it’s either sporting or uncomfortable. Flat roads are great but find a bump or ridge and there’s less than expected give in the way the body rebounds. Think of the bump-thump your car has and add extra bump. It also means that body roll is virtually existent and the more rapid changes of direction have the Rexton Limited sitting flat. It’s a coil sprung front and a multi-link rear.Braking becomes the last part of that 20%, with a lack of feedback, a soft travel, and a real need to press down to get a sense of retardation. Along with the turbo lag, it adds up to needing to plan a little more than should be needed when it comes to moving the big machine around. Balancing that is the excellent response to the accelerator. When the revs are right in the sweet spot, response time is on point, and the Mercedes sourced seven speeder slurs through efficiently, quickly, quietly.
What About The Safety? No problems here. AEB and Forward Collision Warning go hand in hand, as do Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Blind Spot Detection. Lane Change Assist and High Beam Assist, along with a full suite of airbags including kneebag for the driver ensure the Rexton Limited is a safe office. Tyre pressure monitoring is on board and available as a visual option in the driver’s display.And The Warranty?There has to be something in the water in Korea, as SsangYong go up against Kia by offering seven years. Whack on unlimited kilometres, a good service schedule and pricing, plus seven years of roadside assistance.
At The End Of The Drive:If there’s any real indication of Korean car companies improving quicker than anticipated, it’s SsangYong. Given what the brand offered just a few years ago across the range, this car, the Rexton Limited, and the others such as the Musso four door ute and Tivoli small SUV, to be replaced by the shape of Korando, the brand is on a sharply upwards inclined trajectory. Ignore this one at your peril. Here is where to find out more.