Ssangyong is becoming a great, cheaper alternative to many premium brands and with the new Musso, the Korean company is taking on the pick-up truck market.
With big names such as Nissan, Mitsubishi and Toyota leading the sector, can the Musso bring Ssangyong to the fore? AOL Cars went to Towcester to find out.
What is it?
The Musso is essentially just an updated version of the Korando Sports pick-up, but with a new name brought back from Ssangyong's past. Previously used back in 2005, Musso returns with a refreshed face and updated interior on its Korando predecessor.
With an economical diesel engine, it is available with both manual and automatic transmissions, and despite being one of the lightest models in the pick-up field, it can tow very similar weights to its more established rivals.
What's under the bonnet?
Currently available with Ssangyong's new 2.2-litre turbodiesel, the Musso can pack a punch with 176hp and 400Nm of torque. It achieves 37mpg on the combined cycle and emits 202g/km to rival its market challengers.
The new engine brings improved performance that increases the towing rating and brings a mild boost to the combined fuel economy of around five per cent.
What's the spec like?
From the base model, the Musso comes equipped with 18-inch alloy wheels, leather-look seats, front and rear electric windows, power-folding door mirrors, manual air conditioning, CD & RDS Radio with iPod & Bluetooth connectivity and a multifunction steering wheel.
Our EX Auto specification vehicle adds black 18-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, leather seats – heated in the front and electrically adjustable for the driver - a 7-inch touchscreen for operating the infotainment, rear-view camera with parking sensors, front LED daytime running lights, auto headlamps, rain-sensing wipers and cruise control.
Plenty. With Nissan's Navara, the Toyota Hilux and the L200 from Mitsubishi, Ssangyong may have its work cut out to become a market leader.
However, with a much cheaper outlay and good quality interior, the Musso can be even more practical than its rivals. It has lots of work to do however to knock off the top three that have dominated for a considerable period.
What's it like to drive?
Unlike the majority of vehicles in the pick-up sector, the Musso makes use of independent rear suspension. This gives it a surprisingly compliant ride whether running empty or with the load bay pushed to its one-tonne limit - we also tested the car with a load bay full of gravel just to make sure. Without the extra weight, the Musso can get a little soggy over bumps, but by and large it's better than rivals that stick to more basic suspension.
The steering is somewhat mushy and vague though, so if you have any ambitions to press on down a country road it's best to put them on the back-burner.
At speed there's rather a lot of wind noise coming from those huge wing mirrors, but it's expected for this type of vehicle. Otherwise it's happy to sit at motorway speeds with little fuss, albeit with a little bit of body roll if you make too quick a lane change.
AOL Cars Verdict
If you're self-employed and have a family, the Musso pick-up makes a lot of sense. Alongside being cheap - particularly if you can claim the VAT back - and practical, it's roomy and comfortable enough to accommodate the kids when not put to work. Specify the optional load cover and the dogs can come too.
Ultimately, the Musso proves a commendable all-rounder but loses out to most of its rivals in most areas. The engine and gearbox, particularly the automatic, are a huge improvement and certainly bring the Musso into consideration, with the good ride brought by the multilink rear suspension proving something of a boon. All other considerations aside though, it's a very inexpensive vehicle and the price is very compelling.