You could pretty much understand the technology and equipment on the previous-generation SsangYong Rexton in a couple of minutes. But when I collected this all-new model –which we’ll be running for the next six months – I was glad of a dealer handover from Essex SsangYong, in Witham.
As salesman Stuart Cornell passed me the keys and went through the car’s features, it became clear just how far the Rexton has moved on.
The most obvious change inside is the 9.2-inch head unit display, which allows split-screen viewing and has DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity and TomTom sat-nav. And as my job often involves powering multiple gadgets at the same time, I was pleased to see twin 12V outlets alongside a USB port on the dash.
We’ve yet to explore all the options, but the dash display can be switched between driving information, sat-nav instructions or your choice of tacho and speedo. We did play with the alternatives for the indicator sound; although none of them really appeals, at least the volume can be adjusted.
While exploring all the options, I turned off the lane departure warning, because living in the country and driving a lot on rural roads means frequent unnecessary alerts otherwise.
On the move there’s traffic sign recognition, which has so far proven very accurate, spotting even small speed limit signs, plus temporary ones placed on the verge around roadworks.
The recent wintry weather enabled me to try the four-wheel drive, because the summer tyres were struggling to cope, in RWD mode, with the snow-covered hill out of the cul-de-sac where I live. All-wheel drive is selectable with a twist of a knob and easily got the car up the incline. Had we not been on the verge of spring, I would have been tempted to switch to winter or all-season tyres, even on a 4×4.
The Rexton may be loaded with all manner of electronic wizardry, but that cold snap also led me to my favourite feature: the heated steering wheel. Even after the snow melted I kept it switched on to warm my cold fingers after being outside. The wheel, combined with the heated front and rear seats, plus dual- zone air-conditioning, helped to keep the harsh weather’s effects at bay.
With such an impressive line-up of standard kit on our ELX model, it’s no surprise that our options list was short. We added the metallic paint (although I’m not convinced by the Sabia Beige finish yet) and a tow bar to take my various racing cars around the country.
I’ll be finding out if the massively improved spec has taken the Rexton away from its hard-working roots on a continental towing trip soon.
*Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old living in Banbury, Oxon, with three penalty points.