What is it?
I’m fairly confident that everyone reading this has heard of SsangYong, but you know that the Korean manufacture have making 4WD vehicles since 1954. That’s right, 1954, so they know a thing or 2 about creating tough and reliable workhorses, as that's all they make.
A lot has happened in their 64 year history, but there’s no point in dwelling on the past when the here and now is far more interesting and compelling. So, let me introduce you to the all-new Musso which is based on the current recipient of 4x4 Magazine’s ‘4x4 of The Year’ award, the SsangYong Rexton.
On the road
SsangYong’s PR team played a belter as they had a variety of Musso’s available with different weights in the back. My first drive was the automatic version loaded with 400kg of sand bags. The ride was smooth, as it should be, and its performance wasn’t shabby at all as SsangYong’s refined 2.2-litre e-XDi220 provided enough power, churning out up to 181PS (4,000rpm) and 400Nm (1,400-2,800rpm).
The Aisin automatic gearbox is quite a gem, and was smooth and effortless at swapping its ratios when required.
Whatever the road you will find the Musso is very refined producing virtually no noise at all. Its rigid body on frame construction has been carefully tuned by Pininfarina to ensure that the noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels are excellent. It even has polyester wheel-arch linings that reduce road noise and the engine bay includes better sealing than the outgoing model to improve sound, dust and waterproofing.
Not unlike other pick-ups, the Musso has a 3.5-tonne towing capacity and can cope with a payload of over a tonne with a bed large enough for a euro pallet. However, unlike other pick-ups, the Musso can fulfil both obligations at the same time. Now that’s impressive. If the current pick-up bed isn't large enough for you, later on in the year SangYong are introducing an extended wheelbase version.
Every time I've driven the Musso off-road on Millbrook’s off-road course I’ve always been impressed by its versatility, comfort and ability, especially when fitted with road tyres, and the new version should be even better. I say ‘should’ because as you can see by the photos, the ground was dry, very dry.
Having said that, there were plenty of uphill grassy climbs that it managed with ease, and we all know how deceptive grass can be. On the down-hill sections I selected ‘4WD low’ on the dial next to the gear-lever, pressed the hill-decent control button and moved the auto box into manual and selected 1st gear and the Musso eased us down every gradient with maximum control. The Musso proved itself to be very competent off-road, especially on the 275/45 R20 General Grabber AT3, though I believe these are only going to be standard fitment on the Rhino special edition.
The Musso has 2WD high, 4WD high and 4WD low, but it doesn’t have a diff-lock, its electronics sort that out. You may roll your eyes here, but the great thing about not having a locking diff is when you’re reversing with a trailer or caravan on-road, you’re not going to lock-up the transmission and consequently cause damage. I know a few people who tow trailers for a living, and that’s one of the reasons why they’ll never buy an L200.
My next observation isn’t a criticism, but its 22.8° approach, 23.4° departure and 20.3° ramp-over angles are among the lowest in the sector, so the Musso wouldn’t be my first choice as a weekend off-roader. As I mentioned earlier, it’s very capable, but its target audience is more commercial who won't necessarily need the clearance of an off-roader.
The Musso comes in 4 different flavours, the entry level EX, Rebel, Scaracen and the range topping Rhino, which is only limited to 100 vehicles.
Musso EX - £19,995 ex VAT (£23,994)
The EX offers the market-entry truck. It comes with 17” alloy wheels, a DAB audio/Bluetooth system, 6 airbags, electric windows, remote central locking that includes the tail gate, manual air conditioning, automatic headlights, rain sensing wipers and a full sized spare wheel.
Musso Rebel - £22,495 ex VAT (£26,994)
The Rebel builds on the EX specification, adding 18” alloy wheels, roof rails, floor mats, an 8” smart audio infotainment system with Google CarPlay and Android Auto, a rear-view reversing camera, leather-look seats, front seats that are both heated and ventilated, heated leather steering wheel, black side steps and Rebel graphics.
Musso Saracen - £24,995 ex VAT (£29,994)
Adding a premium feel, Saracen is instantly recognisable with its 18” black alloy wheels, and adds nappa leather seats, power adjustable drivers and front passenger seats, heated rear seats, 9.2” screen with TomTom navigation, automatic projection headlamps and LED positioning lights, cruise control, metal front skid plate, bright finished tubular side steps, bright rear corner bars, bright finished mirrors and door handles and Saracen graphics.
Musso Rhino - a limited edition including automatic and metallic paint - £28,495 ex VAT (£34,194)
With just 100 numbered trucks, Rhino is a really very special limited launch edition. Finished in either Indian red or metallic Space black, it features 6-speed Aisin automatic transmission, 20” black alloy wheels fitted with General Grabber all terrain tyres, a black front skid plate, black tubular side steps, black rear corner bars, black load deck bar with LED lights, dark tinted rear privacy glass, a numbered limited-edition plaque and Rhino graphics.
Option prices are: automatic transmission - £1,250 (ex VAT) & metallic paint - £430 (ex VAT).
The Musso’s interior is a rather pleasant place to be, the dash layout is good, switch gear is clear and within easy reach and the seats are very comfortable as well as being heated and cooled. Yeah, you won’t find that in a lot of pick-ups! SsangYong also give you a heated leather steering wheel on the Rebel upwards, and believe me, once you’ve experienced a heated steering wheel you’ll always want one!
Leg room in the back is great for anyone who’s over 6ft tall, as is the headroom.
It’s worth noting though that the Musso hasn't yet been tested by Euro NCAP, but all models have six airbags and a strong ladder chassis, so they are tough machines.
Engine ’n’ gearbox
Just like many other parts, the Musso’s engine ’n’ gearbox also derives from their ‘4x4 of the year’ winner, the Rexton. There’s just the one engine, the 2.2ltr diesel that offers 181hp and 400Nm of torque and is good for a maximum combined fuel economy of 35.8mpg with CO2 emissions of 225g/km. If those emissions seem high, it’s worth remembering that pick-up tax rates are not CO2 determined like they are with cars. All pick-ups currently cost £250 a year in Vehicle Excise Duty.
Standard transmissions are either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic that's supplied by the massive Aisin group. Both are combined with the standard all-wheel-drive system that offers 2WD, 4WD high and 4WD low and selected from an easy to reach dial that's just below the gear lever.
The last time I was on a pick-up launch it was for the new 1.9ltr diesel Isuzu D-Max, which wasn’t bad. Unfortunately I drove up to North Yorkshire in Volkswagen’s fantastic 220bhp Amarok, which kind of took the edge of the D-Max unfortunately.
So, what press car did I have for the 3-1/2 hours drive down to Malmesbury in Wilshire for the launch of the all-new Musso? Umm, the Mercedes-Benz X-Class. Honestly, it was a coincidence!
However, this time there was no such disappointment. The Musso Saracen that I drove all day was just as quiet, and in my opinion, equally as nice inside, and at around £6k cheaper makes far more sense, I know what I would choose if I was a small business owner. Driving quickly along a badly undulating roads, I’ll admit that the X-Class felt more composed, but already SsangYong is looking at changing the rear springs to provide a more settled ride.
- it's the only pickup able to tow 3.5t and carry one tonne simultaneously
- it has the refined 2.2-litre e-XDi220 engine with 181PS and 400Nm
- prices start from £19,995 plus VAT
I think the biggest surprise of the day for me was how much confidence SsangYong have in their products by offering their Rexton and Musso with a 7 year, 150,000 mile warranty and a pricing structure that’s around 10% cheaper than its comparable competitor. So if you own a small business and confident enough in yourself not to rely on a badge, then the Musso could be for you.
I wouldn't be at all surprised if by the end of the year the UK has itself a new favourite pick-up.