SsangYong Musso road test
The Musso is tough, good value and well equipped.
What is it?
The new SsangYong Musso is the Korean manufacturer’s latest pick-up. It’s bigger, tougher and more practical than the model it replaces to better challenge the Mitsubishi L200 and Nissan Navara.
How green is it?
Even by pick-up standards the Musso burns a lot of fuel. Cars with a manual ‘box have an official combined figure of 35.8mpg and emit 211g/km of CO2.
Who should buy one?
Someone who needs a proper pick-up with a payload of over a tonne. Or a driver looking for a rough and tough alternative to a conventional 4×4.
Road test by David Motton, August 2018
DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
It’s not a simple task to build a vehicle which can carry a tonne of cement during the working week but double as a comfortable family car in the evenings and weekends.
The biggest difficulty is somehow making heavy-duty suspension ride smoothly without a load in the back.
This is where the Musso struggles. With an empty loadbay the ride is bouncy and unsettled. We also tried the SsangYong with a 300kg load, and it made an obvious difference; the ride was firm, but with much less bounce. SsangYong acknowledges that the suspension is too uncompromising and is planning to revise the set-up to make the Musso easier to live with.
It’s a shame that ride comfort is poor, as otherwise the Musso drives well when judged against other double-cab pick-ups. The steering is reasonably accurate and the Musso corners tidily enough.
The engine has 179bhp and 295lb ft of pulling power, enough for determined acceleration even with a load in the back. There’s a choice of manual and automatic gearboxes. The manual is a little clunky so we preferred the smooth-shifting six-speed automatic.
Once up to speed the Musso is reasonably quiet. Engine noise stays in the background unless the engine is worked really hard. Wind and road noise are also kept to reasonable levels, so a long journey in the big SsangYong won’t become tiresome.
Around town you are very much aware of the Musso’s size; it’s more than five metres long and just under two metres wide (not including the mirrors). But it’s not as intimidating to drive through narrow streets as you might think, thanks to good all-round visibility. It’s easy enough to judge where the vehicle’s extremities are, and all but the most basic model have a rear-view camera to help shoe-horn the Musso into parking spaces.
All versions have a part-time 4×4 transmission so power can be sent to all four wheels for better traction in wet weather or for going off road.
SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
As a dual-purpose vehicle, the Musso is very roomy and practical.
Judge it as a family car, and you’ll find lots of space in a well made cabin. Not so long ago, the quality of fit and finish was a big weakness for SsangYong, but the Musso’s cabin shows just how far the brand has come in a short time.
Anyone travelling in the front of the car has plenty of head and legroom, and it was easy to achieve a comfortable driving position.
Those in the back have a lots of legroom – this is often a weakness of double-cab pick-ups. And there are air vents between the front seats to keep everyone at a comfortable temperature.
As a workhorse, the Musso ticks all the necessary boxes. The payload is over a tonne for both the manual and automatic model, and the SsangYong can legally tow up to 3,500kg if you choose the auto (that drops to 3,200kg for the manual).
Pick-ups tend to lag behind conventional passenger cars in the fitment of advanced driver aids. So there’s no autonomous emergency braking to slow the Musso if the driver fails to spot a hazard, for example. However, all models come with six airbags and stability control. Good all-round visibility should help the driver avoid trouble in the first place, and throughout our test drive the brakes felt strong and responsive.
You get plenty for your money with the SsangYong. EX models have a DAB radio with Bluetooth connectivity, 17-inch alloys, air conditioning, rain-sensing wipers and automatic headlights. Rebel spec comes with worthwhile upgrades including roof rails, an eight-inch touchscreen, heated and cooled front seats and a heated steering wheel. Go for the Saracen model to add leather seats, powered adjustment of the front seats, heated rear seats, satellite navigation, and cruise control.
Prices for the Musso start from £19,995 excluding VAT (anyone purchasing a pick-up to use for their business will be able to reclaim the VAT). That undercuts the Fiat Professional Fullback by £2,000, although it’s £7 more than the least expensive Nissan Navara. However, fuel costs are disappointing, with an official combined figure of 35.8mpg for the manual and 32.8mpg for the diesel. Most rivals are more efficient and emit less CO2.
WE SAY The Musso is tough, good value and well equipped.
AT A GLANCE:
Price: £26,245 plus VAT
Performance: 0-62 TBC
Tax: £250 annually
Figures for the Saracen 4×4 Auto