Our Cars


Report four

The driving year began with a looming cliff-edge – not from behind the wheel, but vis-a-vis the SsangYong brand itself, given news of bankruptcy in South Korea. We soon learned subsequent restructuring should not affect UK operations and, for me, that was a relief: among all the pickups I’ve fostered over the years, none has wormed its way into my affections so effectively as this Musso.

SsangYong, like many brands, has been on a determined drive from budget lowlands into the foothills of respectable mainstream. And, perhaps surprisingly, it has taken the development of an extended wheelbase double cab to show how far that journey might go. It’d be sad for the story to suddenly stop, not least because the budgets for a model like this and a new Land Rover Defender continue to exist on separate planets.

Not that life’s exactly been Rhino-central. As per the original lockdown, much of the darkest part of winter has seen, with the exception of essential shopping and student taxiing, the beast sitting idle and unmolested. While waiting for reasons to be legitimately out and about, I’ve spent some time, instead, aimlessly wandering the net. And I’m pleased to say I’m now a fully-fledged member of a SsangYong owners’ group.

So what’s the inside story on SsangYong ownership? The only mud being flung seems real: SsangYong tends to sell 4x4s to people who use them as nature intended. And to many, they could probably send the parts individually and they’d sort the production line out themselves. That’s changing of course, in line with the brand’s move towards more sophisticated technology, but Musso owners do take their pride and joy way off the beaten track. And some even buy tents, which fold out atop the load bay, to provide instant accommodation.

This grabbed my attention: given our Rhino version has the longest load bed UK money can buy, might an elevated tent be a great post-lockdown solution for safely distanced holidaying? The short answer’s probably no: such tents are expensive, weigh loads and may well be the answer to a question no one’s asked. Unless you have a surfeit of poisonous snakes in your preferred holiday spot, or the only slot left is in a riverbed.

All the same, I do connect with this spirit of adventure the Rhino engenders. So, far from gazing in the dusty window of the travel agent, a wish-list of Rhino-assisted adventures is writ large in my dreams. They won’t, I know, necessarily need much in the way of tarmac, and – one of the joys of living in this small but infinitely varied nation – they will not need to be too much of a fuel bill away. Yes, come that green light, you won’t see my Rhino for dust. Perhaps see you out there on the dirt tracks?

Date arrived 10th September 2020
Mileage 3,107
Economy (WLTP combined) 28.2mpg
Economy (On test) 34.1mpg

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…but once it’s weathered by winter, step carefully on your way in and out.

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