8 April 2014

First Drive: SsangYong Rexton W

Korean car brand SsangYong is gaining a growing reputation in Ireland since its 2013 re-entry to the market with a complete new range, writes Trish Whelan.

SsangYong Motors here expect the Rexton W will become a flagship vehicle of the brand. Launched yesterday, the strong looking and stylish SUV joins 'range mates' Korando, Korando Commercial, Korando Sports pick-up, and the seven-seater Rodius. The Korando Commercial, from €24,995, was voted Continental Irish Commercial SUV of the Year 2014 by the van jury of the Irish Motoring Writers Association.

Having driven the car at launch yesterday at Bill Cullen Premier Motors in Dublin, this feels a robust, strong 4x4 with the appeal of an urban cruiser but with off-road ability and a range of creature comforts that equate to good value for money. It will appeal particularly to businesses wishing to enhance their image while keeping pricing affordable.

The commercial automatic is priced from €36,769; the Business Edition 5-seater Commercial utility from €38,329 - automatic from €41,377; and the 7-seater passenger from €44,474 - automatic from €48,185. All prices include VAT. All models come with 5-year warranty and road side assistance.

With four adults on board, there was plenty of room in the cabin with those in the rear enjoying good head and leg room. We also liked the new look of the cabin which is both well thought out, and practical. Leatherette seating is standard with optional rear leather as an extra. Leather featured on the gearstick and steering wheel. The overall quietness of the 2.0 diesel engine was noted as were the nice gear changes from the 6-speed manual transmission in the car tested, the Commercial version. We also noted that Bluetooth connectivity and air conditioning were standard features.

The drivability of the car reflected its ambitions in the upper end of the larger SUV arena. Even though the trial car was manual, the initial sense is seamless progress in traffic or on the motorway, and the target vehicles such as Hyundai's Santa Fe and the upcoming new Nissan X-Trail will feel the wind of real competition from this one.

More when I get to spend time with it.