Budget bruiser: 2014 SsangYong Rexton
The local market has seen a surge of mid-sized SUVs coming in recently. A lot of people want to own an off roader but can't afford to spend a small fortune on cars like Land Cruisers or Patrols, instead opting for slightly smaller, significantly cheaper but well-equipped SUVs. Take the Nissan X-trail, or the Hyundai Tucson. If you think you've seen too many of those, and want something different, then you have the new (big) kid on the block: the 2.0 liter SsangYong Rexton Diesel 2014.
Millennium SsangYong Motors Ltd brings you the all new 4WD off roader, a direct contender to the Hyundai Santa Fe or Honda CRV in terms of size, but at a much, much cheaper price. What you get for your 55 Lakhs is a great South Korean-made car that comes with a number of perks.
Stand some distance away and you see a very well-crafted design. Smooth lines, bold curves and a completely revamped look improving upon the older, blander predecessor. The front fascia is very humble. No spaceship-wannabe designs, instead just a simple chrome grill. To many this might seem boring, but I liked it. SsangYong did right with the rear and front lamps: projection HIDs in the front and LED strip tails in the back.
Step inside the cabin and you'll realize how much effort the Koreans put into making your drive a comfortable one. The car is a seven seater, and black leather wraps every single seat. Even the door pads have leather. The Rexton has two air conditioning units, the secondary being at the very back for the far rear seats. Overhead a fully automated sunroof lets you soak up that Dhaka City sun (maybe not a good idea this summer though). The steering wheel has audio and gear shift controls; there are power seats with three memory settings, and sunglass and cup holders right where you need them.
It does, however, miss out on a few key items such as a reverse camera, and the extent of its safety package is pretty poor with airbag protection for front seat occupants only. A little more effort could've been applied when designing the dashboard, steering wheel and gauge cluster. Leg space is very good, and allows ample space for mid and far rear passengers. When not in use, the boot is big enough to cart a family load of gear but the loading height is higher in comparison to rivals.
The Rexton has a relatively small capacity engine for its size. The 2.0-litre turbo diesel, however, does a decent job at shifting its 1985kg mass. The brochure wont tell you that its turbo charged but our test car did have one, and the intercooler sat right behind the front grill. With 155 hp of power and 266 lb-ft of torque – which is on tap between 1500-2800rpm – it feels strong when on the move with good low-rev urgency and plenty of mid-range punch for effortless highway cruising.
It's not as smooth or refined as the latest diesel engines as it hesitates to get moving while the turbo builds up pressure, but it does prevent diesel clatter from entering the cabin. The engine doesn't knock around and cabin noise is minimal. The fuel economy is fair, and improves when you take it on the highway. Our test car came with the 5 speed E-Tronic automatic gearbox, and 4WD with shifting on the fly. SsangYong tells us that it has a fuel economy of 7.8l/100km, which is competitive with other cars in its class.
On our test run, vast straights let me step down on the gas and the turbo did its magic. The acceleration was hesitant at first but once the turbo kicked in, the rise to 150 km/h was easy. Even with a six-passenger load the Rexton ploughed forward. Taking it to a nearby sandfill for the shoot, I maneuvered it down an almost 45 degree slope through loose mug and gravel, the Rexton kept composure and didn't slip. The diesel engine pumped out plenty of torque to wrestle through the rough terrain. During the drive back, I took a back seat. The chauffeur squeezed through traffic, between buses and rickshaws with not much trouble. The Rexton soaked up potholes and rough roads and didn't roll around as much as I expected. There was a slight vibration, from the engine, but that much you have to bear if driving a diesel.
Would I buy this car? Its a brand new car with a great design. It could take me to my office, drop the kids off at school and still help me make the weekend trips to the factory or weekend resort.
2014 SsangYong Rexton
Engine: 2.0 litre 4 cylinder 16 valve turbodiesel (155hp, 256 lb-ft of torque)
Transmission: 5 speed "E-tronic" automatic gearbox, part time 4WD
Features and options: 7 seats, leather, rear air conditioning and climate control, sunroof, cup-holders, front airbags, steering mounted audio controls, power seats with memory.
Contact Millenium SsangYong Motors Ltd for more details