Иностранная пресса06 Июля 2007
SsangYong`s Rexton - stylish member of the family
By Denis Droppa
SsangYong is famous for styling that only a mother could love - and even that's debatable - but point a Rexton at an obstacle such as the Sani Pass and no problem.
The Rexton is the styling exception. Compared with some of its stablemates - particularly the Stavic MPV that looks like a wicked styling prank that sneaked into production by mistake - it looks almost normal. Well, from behind anyway. The front is unashamedly Mercedes-inspired but with a Picassoesque twist.
SsangYong still uses Mercedes power although it's dropped the cheesy "Powered By Mercedes-Benz" stickers on the back windows. Perhaps it feels it's gained enough credibility as a brand.
The second generation Rexton was launched in South Africa in July as Korea's cheaper alternative to large luxury SUV's such as BMW's X5, Volvo's XC90 and VW's Touareg. It's been given styling tweaks inside and out and arch-filling 18" alloy rims have replaced the former 17" items.
The Mercedes 2.7-litre turbodiesel engine under the hood is the unit that used to power several Benz models, including the M-Class. Benz has replaced it with a 3.2 turbodiesel but the 2.7 still packs a decent 121kW and 340Nm that's fed to the wheels through a sequential five-speed automatic gearbox with touch-shift and selectable all-wheel drive.
Like every large SUV, the all-wheel drive Rexton is about practicality and comfort, with all-terrain ability thrown in for those with weekend adventure aspirations. The cabin can seat seven - five in the first two rows and two vertically challenged persons in a third row that can be folded into the floor.
With that third row folded there's a truly giant boot that effortlessly swallowed four people's luggage for a trip to the Sani Pass.
Access to that maw is through an upward-opening tailgate or through a flip-uppable rear-door window.
The cabin is spacious and passengers are accommodated on comfy, leather-clad seats. The driver's seat is power-adjustable (with memories) and the steering column adjusts for height.
Luxuries are plentiful: CD/radio, air-con, wood trim, power windows, remote control for the central locking, tinted glass and foldable electric mirrors. However,while the Korean vehicle has all the features expected of a luxury SUV don't expect an M-Class. The Rexton's plasticky dashboard and flimsy switchgear don't have the same classy feel.
Sit out the turbo lag
The Rexton purred along happily on our six-hour trip from Johannesburg to the Underberg with strong cruising muscle and good overtaking punch but the picture changes somewhat in stop-start traffic with noticeable turbo lag.
That's not great with an auto transmission because you can't rev past the problem before dumping the clutch. You just have to sit it out for two seconds while the engine slowly realises you've booted the throttle.
There are gear-change paddles on the steering wheel but I didn't use them too often as the transmission works pretty well in auto mode.
Pit stops in the Rexton are few: the car's fuel economy for such a heavy vehicle averaged 9.9 litres/100km - 800km-plus from the 80-litre tank.
The softly sprung Korean delivers a plush ride on a smooth road but bumpy surfaces reveal its bakkie underpinnings. It has a ladder-frame chassis with independent suspension up front and a solid rear axle that, on rough surfaces, makes the Rexton's rear bob and bounce bakkie fashion.
Selectable all-wheel drive
This is combined with a generally soggy and top-heavy feel and you can't sling this big Korean through curves with the same confidence as an X5. It does, however, have traction control and anti-lock brakes backed up by multiple crash bags.
Off-road ability is decent with selectable all-wheel drive and low range. There's no extra levers to manhandle; turning a knob selects two or all-wheel drive at up to 70km/h. A further twist of the knob - while stationary - selects low range.
There was nothing on the drive up Sani Pass that really tested the Rexton. We didn't need low range - the turbodiesel engine has plenty of low-down grunt - but a few rocky, rutted sections demonstrated the vehicle's decent 208mm ride height. We scraped its belly only once.
The heavens opened during the descent and turned the scenic dirt road into a wet, slippery quagmire. This led to some slithery moments but nothing that threatened to spit us off the edge of the mountain.
Lots of room and comforts, handy all-terrain ability and good fuel consumption make the Rexton 270 Xdi a solid contender for adventure-seeking families. Its looks also stand out from the herd and are easier to live with than some of SsangYong's quirkier offerings.
The Rexton's road-holding and ride are less convincing but then it does cost R389 995 - considerably less than its European rivals. As always, you gets what you pays for.
Published on the web by motoring.co.za on November 3, 2006.
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