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8 Sep, 2019 10:00am Kim Adams
First report: we’re given the keys to the plush SsangYong Musso Saracen pick-up truck
There was a sense of déjà-vu when I picked up our brand-new Musso from SsangYong’s UK headquarters in Luton. That wasn’t down to the many trips I’ve made to the airport, but rather the Musso’s interior. After running a long-term SsangYong Rexton for six months last year, it all looked pretty familiar. And so it should, because the two models share a fair bit of equipment.
Regional aftersales manager Adrian Ryan took me through the truck’s features. Our Musso Saracen is not quite as well equipped as my old Rexton ELX, but it’s still pretty good for a commercial vehicle – although few people will want to bring grubby overalls or muddy work clothes into the smart, leather-trimmed interior.
I was pleased to see the included 9.2-inch infotainment screen, with all-important Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. There’s also TomTom sat-nav, but it’s not live, so traffic monitoring can’t be used. At least there are free map updates, and the smartphone systems have this feature. With Waze now supported by CarPlay, this has become my default nav in the Musso already.
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Older tech is catered for by an Aux socket, plus there’s a USB outlet in the console, which has just enough power to keep my phone charged while using the sat-nav and playing music. It can also be used for music on a USB stick, plus there’s Bluetooth for calls and streaming. The screen also displays the rear camera image, although I would have liked front and rear parking sensors or a 360-degree camera on such a big vehicle.
Climate control is manual, and it works well, particularly on the max setting which quickly cools an overheated cabin. It does need tweaking now and again to maintain a comfortable level, though. Another feature that SsangYong decided wasn’t needed on a commercial vehicle is keyless entry. It’ll foil key-cloning thieves, but it’s a pain to fumble for the fob and unlock the car only to put it back in my pocket, because there’s keyless starting. It would be better to have both features, or you might as well have neither.
I was pleased to see the heated steering wheel make it on to the Musso, although I’ve not used it yet. What have been tried are the cooled seats, which blow cold air through the base. It’s a slightly odd sensation, but works well if you’ve just got into a roasting car. The seats are also heated and electrically adjustable. The driving position is good, with enough legroom for my large frame, while still retaining decent legroom in the rear. An elderly relative also appreciated the grab handles mid-way up the rear door frames to help her get in the back.
Our Saracen comes with the essential (for me) £512 towbar and a hardtop at £2,334, with fitting for both costing extra. The bed and tailgate liner are also softer than those on some rivals, making it easier on the knees when clambering to the bulkhead. Sadly, the Indian Red colour match on the load bay roof and our car is a touch off, and this has already been pointed out by several people.
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We’ve already clocked up almost 2,000 miles in the short time the Musso has been on our fleet, many with the rear loaded and towing my Lotus Elise. The torquey diesel is more than up to pulling the loaded trailer and is almost silent at the national speed limit.
I wasn’t a fan of the Rexton’s Mercedes-sourced seven-speed auto, which did nothing in a hurry, so I was pleased to see a six-speed Aisin gearbox in the Musso. It’s very smooth and a bit more alert than Rexton’s.
An improvement there, then, but what about the SUV’s other main failing: the ride? Well, that’s not been resolved, even with coils rather than the usual truck leaf springs at the rear. On all but the smoothest roads the ride is unsettled, with potholes setting up a shudder than ripples through the entire car. Maybe I’ll learn to live with it, because there’s so much else to like about the Musso.
4 The SsangYong Musso’s SUV-like cabin is very appealing, and the infotainment system is pretty much ideal. The engine and gearbox are good, but the ride is firm. We’ll see how it copes over many more miles.
- Model: SsangYong Musso 2.2 4×4 Auto Saracen
- On fleet since: July 2019
- Price: £32,631
- Engine: 2.2-litre 4cyl diesel, 181bhp
- CO2/tax: 250g/km/£260
- Options: Indian Red metallic paint (£550), hardtop (£2,334 plus fitting), tow bar (£512 plus fitting)
- Insurance*: Group: 41/Quote: N/A
- Mileage/mpg: 1,710/26.3mpg
- Any problems?: None so far