Nine-time 24hrs champion gives the current crop some tips
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The Top Gear car review:Ssangyong Rexton
What is it like on the road?
The 2.2-litre turbodiesel develops 180bhp, 310lb ft and is a smoother operator than you’d expect. The seven-speed automatic – which SsangYong continues to proudly sell as an ex-Mercedes-Benz item – is a decent slushbox when you’re taking it easy, but woe betide anyone who might need a slug of overtaking urgency or a motorway sliproad dash. The kickdown is very tardy, and there are no override paddles, but rather a crude +/- switch on the centre console’s selector lever itself.
Needless to say, this is not a fast car. It’s not an SUV, because the ‘S’ stands for ‘Sport’. The Rexton will hit 60mph 11.5 seconds after setting off, and the top speed is 115mph. That torque is better used for towing anyway – the Rexton is happy hauling the UK’s limit of 3,500kg on a braked trailer or 750kg unbraked.
Thing is, a body-on-frame 4x4 with unsophisticated non-adaptive suspension and that kind of towing ability comes at a price. And the price is poor body control and an uncomfortable ride. The Rexton doesn’t deal with road imperfections well, and feels skittish as it rumbles along, fidgeting over bumps and never settling down. This may be a small price to pay if you’re among its fanbase who want toughness, no-nonsense, and dependability, but there’s no way that anyone cross-shopping a Rexton with, say, a Kia Sorento or Hyundai Santa Fe will be impressed with the way it crudely deals with a road.
Nothing about the Rexton would encourage driving quickly, but it’s not all at sea. The steering is sensibly geared, unlike some old-school 4x4s, which have extremely slow steering. As a result, it’s easy to aim down the road, and the slab-sided stance helps place the car. The rear three-quarter visibility is atrocious though, so you’ll be depending on the standard parking sensors and generous mirrors.
Road noise is reasonably well suppressed and there isn’t an inordinate amount of wind noise. On a very smooth motorway, the Rexton acquits itself pretty well. And off road, it’s got enough clearance and wheel articulation to deal with gnarly farmland. The hill descent control is a smooth, quiet operator, and you never sense the car hunting for grip in a panicked fashion, even on regular road tyres.