Sat, 03 March 2018
At first sight, my impression of the SsangYong Rexton was that the FBI or DEA were staking out the Capital Club carpark. Such was its presence. Majestic and large, its gleaming granite façade grabbed me from the start. A peek inside revealed seven seats, enough for the entire SWAT team!
This fourth generation Rexton is larger than the previous models and the current flagship SUV of SsangYong. Interestingly, this Range Rover-rivalling SUV – size-wise at any rate – is expected to help build sales for the Korean manufacturer across the globe. It is also a bid to compete with its Korean sisters, Hyundai and Kia. The boys in suits – well, the CEO to be specific – expect to flog 10,000 SsangYong vehicles in the UK alone. Global production is expected to increase to a whopping 500,000 vehicles a year.
The Rexton, available in a five-seat model also, combines off-road capability with a revised ergonomically comfortable interior. Its basic formula hasn’t changed, a 4x4 body-on-frame utility vehicle. The primary advantage of this method of construction – it is fairly anachronistic after all – is strength. The vehicle is constructed mainly for off-road driving – handy in this part of the world – and towing.
It’s certainly beefy with a 2.2-litre direct injection, turbocharged (225bhp) engine. Its advanced high-strength steel ensures safety to occupants and complements the vehicle’s power to weight ratio.
The drive from Motorcity to Adliya proved an interesting one, for a change, as I discovered the wide range of features and explored the excellent info system.
The retractable side mirrors, as large as a television screen, were a particularly favourite feature of mine.
This lovely vehicle had a lot of features you would expect to find on a much more expensive model. The boot – a gigantic one – has remote control opening, and push-button closure. The first time I encountered this feature, it was on a far pricier SUV. Thumbs up from me, SsangYong. The cabin interior is pretty faultless – a 9.2-inch HD touchscreen with CarPlay and Android Auto. Furthermore, the double stitching on the quilted leather seats would not be out of place on a Ferrari! These supremely comfortable seats would also absorb the impact of any choppiness, occasionally associated with body-on-frame-constructed vehicles, not that you’re likely to experience this on the highways of Bahrain!
From the driver’s seat, the vehicle’s lofty height provides a sense of invincibility and safety, in addition to providing a commanding view of the road. For the vertically challenged, the climb in is assisted by a side-step, I hasten to add.
On the road, it’s quiet and it swaps cogs fairly smoothly. If selected, manual changes can be made via a thumb switch on the gear lever. The sensors and warnings were another story, however. Buzzers, beeps and ding-dongs galore! On the bright side, they can be disabled and, on a long journey, they might prove as useful as they are designed to be, especially if your auditory faculties are in any way waning.
As far as value for money goes, though, the Rexton is excellent in comparison to other SUVs currently on the market.
So, whether you’re ferrying that SWAT team to their latest stakeout or taking the whole family and granny to the souq, this SUV ticks both boxes.
Positives: Too many to mention – features and gadgets, space, warranties, value for money.
Negatives: Previous allusions of lack of street cred for the brand – this offering should go a way to silence those critics.