SsangYong Musso

Musso is capable and competitively priced and there’s a facelift coming, says John Kendall.

SECTOR Pickup Truck PRICE £28,265 (ex-VAT) MPG 29.4mpg (WLTP combined) GROSS PAYLOAD 1,095kg

POWER OUTPUT 181hp (88kW) at 3,800rpm TRANSMISSION Six-speed automatic.

How the pickup truck market has changed in just a few years. Fiat, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan and Mitsubishi have all left the UK market in the last couple of years, while VW’s departure is expected to be temporary. Inevitably, this has made life a bit easier for those that have stayed. Ford and in time Ford with VW will no doubt maintain market leadership, while opening up the market for companies such as Isuzu with the recently revised D-Max and SsangYong.

SsangYong may have enjoyed mixed fortunes when owner Mahindra and Mahindra failed to find a buyer for the company last year, leaving it to fall into receivership in April. That said, there appear to be interested buyers for the Mahindra stake in the company. Meanwhile, it’s business as usual for the company in the UK.

The CV Show will see the unveiling of a facelifted Musso, which will add bold new frontal styling to the pickup. Behind that, much else remains the same. Trim grades will stay as they are, starting with EX, then rising through Rebel and Saracen to Rhino. Top of the range is the Musso Rhino LWB offering the longest load bed in the pickup sector at 1,610mm.

Even the entry level EX is equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels, manual air conditioning, keyless entry, rain-sensing wipers and automatic headlight control. The Saracen specification, as fitted to our test model, can add roof rails, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, rear view camera, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, nappa leather seats, power adjustable front seats, heated rear seats, TomTom navigation and front and rear parking sensors. Rhino models gain more, mostly driver assist systems. We should add that our test vehicle is a pre-facelift model, but as we have said, specification is otherwise unchanged. Add in the seven year/150,000 mile warranty and the £28,265 (ex-VAT) asking price and the Musso Saracen looks like something of a bargain.

Musso is powered by a 181hp, 2.2-litre diesel engine across the range, providing plenty of power for the 4x4 drive system. There is a choice of transmission – either a six-speed manual of a six-speed Aisin automatic, similar to that used by Isuzu for the D-Max. Our test Musso was fitted with the auto box and with the extensive specification, gave it the feel of a well-equipped SUV more than a pickup truck. Like most rivals, the four-wheel-drive system is selectable with rear wheel drive engaged for on-road use and the option of four-wheel-drive high ratio for improved grip or low ratio 4x4 for off-road conditions.

We kept mostly to the road and the Musso’s appeal is that it is generally refined, can travel comfortably at motorway speeds with impressive comfort for passengers, while also being able to carry a 1,095kg gross payload and operate off-road with confidence. With automatic transmission, the Musso can also tow a trailer weighing up to 3,500kg. It’s a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde combination. It’s a vehicle capable of hard work, but at the same time the luxury features are not what you expect to find on a vehicle that could be working several miles away from tarmac. For someone who needs a working vehicle but also wants creature comforts when not working, the Musso Saracen makes a good case for itself.

THE LOWDOWN

KEY FLEET MODEL

MUSSO REBEL.

STRENGTHS

COMPETITIVE PRICE AND WARRANTY.

WEAKNESSES

CAN THE COMPANY FIND AN INVESTOR?

THE VERDICT

The combination of high specification and competitive purchase price with extensive warranty makes for a tempting proposition, assuming that the parent company can secure its future. The Musso is certainly a class competitive product.