Test Drive: SsangYong Musso
Ian Lamming celebrates middle age in SsangYong’s latest Musso pickup
THIS must be what it’s like to have a mid-life crisis, only with a bit of a twist.
I have been riding motorbikes since I was a tot and have always owned one, so it’s not that. I’ve just jumped out of an £85,000 sports car, it was ok but I don’t want one, so it wasn’t that. So it must be the fact that my favourite tipple in the automotive world is…wait for it…a pickup!
I just feel so at home behind the wheel of a dirty great big pickup that it would be my vehicle of choice.
Imagine: “Hey, I’ve won the Lottery and am off to buy a new car…and it’s a SsangYong Musso.” Yep, that would do me and I’d need a big win just so I could afford the diesel.
Musso means rhino in Korean, which is a bit confusing given that this model is the Musso Rhino. So that makes it a rhino, rhino, or a rhino, musso, depending on your preference and the translation. Never mind. Anyway, I like the fact it has rhino written on the doors and there’s a picture of the animal too, cool.
So what makes it so appealing? Well, for a little un’ like me, it’s big, very big. It even sticks out of my car park space. It is long wide and tall but somehow is completely manageable. That’s because it is easy to see where all its extremities lie and it’s pretty square so there are no hidden sticky out bits to bump.
All round vision is superb too as the waistline is nice and low and the back screen generously large. With no rear cab on the load bay it is just so easy to manoeuvre and this is helped further by the standard-fit beepy things and an excellent review camera that projects onto a large touchscreen.
What else makes this my chariot of choice? Well, the 2.2 diesel is silky smooth, powerful and pretty economical. On one run the trip computer read 42mpg so an average of close to 30 is achievable. The six-speed automatic gearbox is utterly seamless and responds well on the kickdown and together the Musso charges along beautifully.
Other pluses for me to tick off are heated seats, heated steering wheel, easy to use touchscreen tech, nice sounding stereo for my spotty tunes and knobs and buttons galore for all the primary functions – hurray – so it’s a doddle to live with.
Interior space, fit and finish are impressive too – it has the biggest cab in the class – and the SsangYong comes with a host of goodies making it a proper mud-plugger including high and low ratio all-wheel-drive, hill descent control, but two-wheel drive for the road and better economy.
For a pickup, ride isn’t bad at all with little of the pogoing that can afflict this type of machine. It is also accurate to steer and it grips well through the bends so all in all it is a joy to drive.
The best thing by far is the fact that pickups are invisible in plain sight. You can drive them anywhere no matter how narrow the roads and people will always give way and get out of the road – particularly with its new huge front grille giving it even more aggressive looks – which is ironic really given that you are more than capable of leaving terra firma while they probably aren’t.
You can also park them anyway in the countryside because people think you are an agricultural worker and would never challenge you leaving it on the verge or in a gateway.
A big surprise is how good Musso is around town. It’s peppy, it’s manoeuvrable and it’s a doddle to park so it’s ideal for popping to the shops.
To the average passer-by this corner of the motoring world makes no sense at all. One day there is a super-sleek 5.0 V8 sports car in the drive, the next a Korean pick up – and I prefer the pickup; must be an age thing.
SsangYong Musso Rhino
Engine: 2.2 litre turbo diesel
Power: 181PS, 420Nm
0-62mph: 11.9 secs
Max Speed: 107mph
Max towing weight: 3,500kg
Payload: one tonne
Transmission: Six speed automatic, selectable 4x4 with low ratios and hill descent
Combined MPG: 28.2
Warranty: Seven years
CO2 g/km: 214
Price: £30,355.00 (excl. VAT)