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Road tested: SsangYong Rexton RX6
Driven April 2014
The Fortuner is a tough nut to crack. Since its launch, it’s been piling on enough sales numbers to keep the Toyota dealerships flooded. Toyota could sell more Fortuners than it could make. But we were never too fond of it. Yes, it’s a capable off-roader, but on the road, it’s a bit of a disappointment. The ride is too choppy and the interior looks exactly like the Innova’s.
But none of that has hampered its success. Many have come to compete for that market share, but no one has been able to unsettle the Fortuner from its Numero Uno spot in that category. SsangYong tried with the Rexton but came no close. But they’re out again to attack the Fortuner with one more weapon – a new variant.
Earlier, the Rexton came with only two variants – top-end with an auto ’box and all the creature comforts and a base variant with barely any features and a manual gearbox. But now, there’s going to be an addition – a variant that’s loaded with features but gets a manual gearbox. It will keep the price in check but will not compromise on creature comforts.
Talking of creature comforts, it gets everything from an electrically-adjustable driver seat, leather upholstery, auto wipers and lamps, touchscreen display with satnav... the works. Apart from that, there’s plenty of cabin space to keep you comfortable. And if you need to ferry a lot of people, there are even seven seats, though the last ones are best suited only for the in-laws.
On the mechanical front, it get’s the same 2.7-litre five-cylinder motor that’s borrowed from the earlier model of the Merc ML-Class. In the RX6, it churns out 162bhp and 340Nm of twist (RX7 has 184bhp and 402Nm). The engine is a highly reliable piece of machinery but with old technology (Merc used the same engine in the ML in early 2000s).
Initially, there’s plenty of lag till the blower kicks in at about 2000 revs. But once it’s in action, all the 162 horses come out galloping in full force. But the fun dies out at an early 4000rpm. That means, you need to play with the ratios only in that narrow powerband.
The engine is a bit noisy and the vibrations on the 5-pot are filtered into the cabin easily – especially higher up in the rev range.
The five-speed manual gearbox is lovely to use. Although the number of ratios is limited to only five, they’re well packed. The shifts are not too long and shift quality is good too.
The Rexton is a heavy SUV, a full 2.7 tonne. But despite that, it’s quick on its foot if you aim to hit a hurried 100kph. It takes only 12.33 seconds to do that, not bad for the size of that car. The engine isn’t a very frugal one. It returns only 9.1kpl in the city and 11.8kpl on open roads.
The RX6 isn’t a great handling SUV. The weight plays a big spoil sport and you couple it with the soft-sprung suspension setup and what you get is a lot of body roll. The steering is light at most times but gets a bit talkative if you push it hard around corners. The ride is a bit choppy at low speeds, nothing alarming, but gets better with speed. The high-speed stability is good too. It feels composed even at its top whack of 180kph.
The RX6 gets a four-wheel system with a low-range transfer case. But despite the off-road hardware, it isn’t great once the tarmac ends. Again, the weight plays a big spoilsport and the engine works hard to get it out of tricky things.
So is it a better bet than the Fortuner? Yes, it is. It has a better ride, a smooth gearbox and all the features you’d ever want. Time to worry then, Toyota.
5cyl, 2696cc, 162bhp, 340Nm, turbo-diesel, 5M, 4WD with low range, 0-100kph: 12.33sec, 30-50kph (3rd): 4.16sec, 30-50kph (4th): 7.95sec, 50-70kph (5th): 8.82sec, 80-0kph: 28.42m, 2.53sec, city kpl: 9.1, highway kpl: 11.8, top speed: 180kph, Rs 19.96 lakh (ex-Delhi)
Loaded with features and comes with a slick gearbox, but the old-school engine spoils the fun