There was a time when the only draw for buying a car from South Korea was a cheap sticker price. Build quality, driving manners and even safety were all afterthoughts. But over time, manufacturers like Kia and Hyundai have evolved into brands that are starting to trouble more established European competition. Ssangyong, is another one of these brands that offers cars that are affordable and practical, albeit a little rough around the edges. A classic example is this, the rugges large 4×4, the Rexton.
On the road
There isn’t much choice when it comes to engine line up, there’s just one, a 176bhp 2.2 litre diesel and it’s available with a six speed manual or seven speed auto courtesy of Mercedes Benz.
It’s safe to say that the engine isn’t up to scratch with some of the best in class, you need to rev it pretty hard to make any sort of swift progress, and it lacks refinement.
You’ll have to be careful of that pace when going through sharp bends as the steering is vague and lots of body lean. Just because there’s lots of play in the suspension don’t think the ride is supple, far from it, it’s pretty fidgety and not great over potholes.
In the cabin
From the second you get behind the wheel you can tell straight off that this is a car built to a budget but its not as low rent as you might think. Ok the cabin plastics are a bit plasticy, but its all neatly laid out and pretty straight forward to get to grips with.
There’s plenty of adjustment for the seat, especially on higher spec versions with electric movement, but the steering wheel only moves up and down. Some of the controls like the sat nav and climate control, are a little more complicated to operate than we’d like.
Space isn’t an issue though. This is a fully-fledged seven-seater, and there’s no shortage of room up front or in the middle row. The third row is best reserved for small children though, most of the time though, they’re best stowed to make room for a sizeable boot.
Equipment levels are pretty comprehensive, but rivals will hold their value better and be cheaper to run. SE models get climate control, cruise control and Bluetooth, but it’s worth spending a little more on the EX trim for parking sensors, leather seats and more stylish alloys.
Whereas its very easy to dismiss the Rexton, there is a lot to be said for it, Ok it may not match up to similarly sized rivals when it comes to driving dynamics or build quality, but you do get seating for seven and plenty of space to keep all of them happy. The biggest draw for many though will be that rather attractive price tag, just be sure you know what you’re getting before you make your decision. A new one is due to land in the UK later in 2017 and time will tell if that one will correct the issues with the existing model.