Review: the Ssangyong Turismo, much better than it looks Reviews 2023 | Top Gear
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First Drive

Review: the Ssangyong Turismo, much better than it looks

Published: 20 Apr 2017

I feel like I’ve seen the Ssangyong Turismo before…

Yep, it’s the restyled, rejigged Rodius, a car many people pronounced with a silent R. Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder, but we doubt any eyes are beheld by fans of that old bus.

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The Turismo is much better, but these things are all relative; it’s still a long way from aesthetically pleasing, but that’s hardly top of its to-do list. This is a car with a very specialist purpose - making price and size indirectly proportional to each other.

It is the size of most British counties, and yet starts at just £18,995. Buy one with all of the equipment and you still won’t touch £25k.

It’s not for keen drivers, then…

Lord, no. But it is for professional drivers: we doubt there’s a better airport taxi out there. While the Turismo can be had with an astonishing 11 seats in its Korean homeland (yes, eleven), over in Britain it comes with seven, more generously sized chairs and a boot big enough to take everyone’s luggage.

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So it’s the aforementioned shuttle bus for six passengers, or a good value transport solution for parents who really like to procreate.

Eww. So what’s it like?

Not that bad. Yep, praise at its very faintest. But in our usual areas of analysis (handling, style, tech…), it simply doesn’t compete with a Seat Alhambra, Ford S-Max, Volvo XC90, or any other seven-seater you care to bring to our attention. But none of them start at £19k.

New for 2016 is a Euro 6-compliant 2.2-litre diesel engine, standard across the range. Performance is up - with 175bhp and 295lb ft - while emissions and fuel consumption are down, at 189g/km and 39.2mpg. Go for the automatic gearbox (you probably should), and it’s sourced from Mercedes.

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And unladen (we have no friends with which to test it seven-up) the Turismo is really quite quick, at least up to around 50mph. You can cause some very startled reactions at the traffic lights.

Is that at all relevant?

Well, kinda. It bodes well for the car not being a leaden, immovable object when it’s full of people and possessions. Under which conditions it will probably ride better; with just a driver on board, it can get a bit unsettled over bad bumps, like an empty van. But this is not a car you’ll ever leap into for a drive alone, so it’s not something to dwell on.

Oh, and it doesn’t have to be rear-wheel drive. Go top-spec and you’ll get selectable four-wheel drive, while all Turismos have two tonnes of towing capacity. With seats that fold completely flat, it’s a good value way to tow your racecar to the track and have somewhere to sleep for the weekend…

Stop being silly. How is the seating arrangement?

There are two big, comfy chairs up front, with van-like visibility ahead of them. There’s a pair of similarly large seats in the middle row, and a bench of three at the back. The floor is quite high, so while all the seats will accommodate adults, those adults won’t necessarily want to spend long periods of time in the hindquarters.

But if it’s four adults traveling, you can always flip the middle two seats flat, and use them as elongated foot rests for the rear-most two. Remove all of the rear seats and you’ll get over 3,000 litres of boot space. For reference, the not-small Ford Galaxy offers 2,339.

So just how good value is it?

Its only real rivals, when it comes to space and flexibility, are seat-stuffed vans like the Volkswagen Caravelle or Mercedes Vito. If you want one for similar money to this Turismo, you’ll be heading into the used market. For comparable power and specs, they’ll be several years old with tens of thousands of miles on the clock.

Normally, when a car majors most on its new price, our personal decision would be to get a classier used alternative. And that VW or Merc would be a fair bit more glamorous.

But the Ssangyong would be yours brand new, with a five-year, unlimited mileage warranty included. If you’re buying your extraordinarily large car as a means to a livelihood, that sort of stuff will count for a lot. No matter how weird it looks…

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