The Rexton hasn’t done any towing yet, but it has already been used to cart two lawnmowers simultaneously – with the car’s rear seats still in place – and it also helped with the clear-out of a flat. Our Ultimate version comes with a two-section false floor that eliminates the step between the underfloor and the folded backrests, but you can significantly expand the space by removing the sections, and tipping the entire folded rear seat forwards again.
This also has the advantage of providing a low bulkhead behind the front seats – highly desirable, noted the lawnmower repairman, when you are carrying large, bladed tools that might move during an emergency stop, or worse.
Besides mowers and mattresses, the Rexton has also carried friends, all of them impressed with both the finish of its interior and its space. None has yet commented on the sometimes jumpy ride, but perhaps they’re being polite. Their observations are usually easy to hear, because the Rexton’s drivetrain is pretty quiet. Its seven gears allow the diesel to spend most of its time spinning beneath 3000rpm, and to achieve a restfully subdued cruise on the motorway. Deploying kickdown briefly changes all that, the engine roaring with effort, but these moments are brief, unless you’re in a real hurry.
The hurried will also discover that the Rexton can be annoyingly slow off the mark when you’re pulling out of a junction, prompting a deeper sinking of the throttle that can then provoke a gravelly scrabble from the inside rear wheel. So it’s not always restful, and certainly not speedy.
You won’t be pushing it to the limit on back roads, either, although some experimentation on a gravel road induced an amusing little drift, curtailed by the stability control system. The Rexton runs in rear-wheel drive, incidentally, unless you select all-wheel drive or low range. So there’s scope for more serious offroad work.
For the moment, though, the Ssangyong is scoring points for its usefulness, cabin ambience and cruise-along character.
ELEVATED VANTAGE POINT The cabin layout is almost entirely an ergonomic delight. Only the ease with which the hazard lights button can be knocked on detracts.
FLAT-LINING ECONOMY Fuel consumption of 29.7mpg doesn’t look like it will improve much now the Rexton is run-in.
Back to the top
Welcoming the Rexton to our fleet – 28th March 2018
Whatever you think of Ssangyong, there’s no denying that the company’s new Rexton four-wheel drive is a vehicle of intriguing contrasts.
It has a finely appointed interior crammed with modern electrical tech, yet there’s an old-school rotary knob allowing you to switch between rear-wheel drive, four-wheel drive and low range. It has a rather 20th-century separate chassis, above which sits a modishly sumptuous quilted leather interior.
So this is your big, tough SUV in the form that most of these beasts used to come in, underpinned with box-section steel reinforcements that would have been familiar to Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
South Korean Ssangyong is now well into a recovery drive under the apparently benevolent wing of Mahindra & Mahindra, racing to catch up with competitors after bankruptcy protection and takeover. It’s also aiming to find itself a viable niche in a crowded automotive world. Rather than battle the major SUV makers head-on, the Rexton sits in an increasingly lonely slot occupied by rugged 4x4s with a separate chassis and the ability to tow 3.5 tonnes in sometimes arduous conditions.