The one-tonne pick-up market is gaining traction in Europe, and even Mercedes has stepped into the segment with a premium take on the humble workhorse. But at the other end of the far-reaching scale, SsangYong has an all-new entry, too.
The new-for-2018 Musso arrives as a stablemate to the latest Rexton, boasting the same body-on-frame architecture and the same 179bhp 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel engine. It also lifts its interior from SsangYong’s newest large SUV.
Driven on UK roads, our early review of the new pick-up was in pre-production form; a left-hand-drive model badged Rexton Sport, equipped and trimmed for its native Korean market. Mechanically though, it’s exactly what British customers will be offered when the truck arrives here in June priced from around £18,000.
SsangYong plans to offer three trim levels in the UK, with our test car more representative of the top-end specification. As a result, it’ll likely cost a few thousand pounds more than that starting estimate, but with LED daytime running lights and 20-inch chrome alloy wheels, it’s not short of premium sparkle. The cabin feels fresh and impressive for the class, too.
Leather seats and a leather dashboard sit alongside a mixture of plastics. Some of the materials are soft and slightly rubbery, but scratchier stuff is still found in places. Overall though, the cabin is a reminder of how far SsangYong has come in recent years, and it’s nicely laid out too. More basic models will be less luxurious, but there’s nothing to suggest that perceived quality on those models will fall short when compared to big sellers like the Mitsubishi L200.
Though UK specs are still to be finalised, mid-spec and range-topping models will arrive with an eight-inch infotainment system. It’s a fairly rudimentary set-up, with a basic TomTom sat-nav, plus DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are part of the package, though, while a reversing camera can also be linked up to the system.
The new Musso will only be available as a five-seat crew cab model here in Britain. The rear bench feels spacious with good shoulder space, and the transmission tunnel doesn’t dig too much into legroom for the middle passenger. You’ll find a tiny slither of storage space behind the seats.
Like many of its rivals, the Musso has been designed to carry a conventionally sized Euro pallet. We’re told it’s a little bit wider and a little bit shorter than an L200’s load bay, but plenty of fastening points and a 12v-charging socket mean the deck ticks all the boxes. We’ve no exact dimensions yet, though.
A glance at the fuel economy figures for the new Musso doesn’t show it in a particularly good light, mind. With rivals such as the Fiat Fullback and Toyota Hilux managing over 40mpg depending on spec, the Musso’s 32.8mpg falls somewhat short of the class average. The six-speed manual is more economical (35.8mpg) than the automatic, but the CO2 gains will be irrelevant for company car drivers – as pick-ups are subject to a flat rate BiK tax.
The 2.2-litre diesel engine delivers fairly smooth power to the all-wheel-drive system, while 420Nm of torque helps equate to a 3.5-tonne braked towing capacity. The Musso isn’t great to drive though, even by pick-up truck standards.
The steering is lifeless, and you’ll find yourself taking vague swings at corners. The ride is very choppy too, with plenty of random shudders picked up even on relatively smooth tarmac. That’s said, with a full pallet and a bit of weight in the back, it’s likely to feel a bit more settled, but that’s a trait common throughout the one-tonne pick-up class.