Ssangyong has hovered around the edges of the UK’s flourishing pick-up sector for quite some time without ever really causing much concern to the mainstream players.
With the double-cab-only Musso, which is based on the same platform as Ssangyong’s Rexton 4x4 SUV, the brand is confident of making a more serious impression.
It’s a step up compared to its predecessor, which was based on the Korando Sports pick-up truck, in terms of refinement and workhorse credentials, but that does not necessarily mean it has enough going for it to trouble the better-known models that would seem to be its natural competitors, such as the Mitsubishi L200, the Isuzu D-Max or even the Nissan Navara.
In terms of price the Musso is extremely competitive, coming in at £20,995, excluding VAT, compared to £20,494 for the entry-level D-Max in double-cab guise and the £22,050 starting price for the double-cab L200.
It is worth noting, however, that both the Isuzu and Mitsubishi are also offered as single and extended cabs.
Musso power comes from a 2.2-litre diesel engine, which is available with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.
The engine produces 181hp and 420Nm of torque. Official combined fuel economy figures are 35.8mpg for the manual and 32.8mpg for the auto, and CO2 emissions are 211g/km and 226g/km respectively. Economy, on paper at least, is not the Musso’s strong point.
By way of comparison, the L200 Warrior 180hp 2.4-litre double-cab posts official figures of 40.9mpg and 37.7mpg in manual and auto modes and CO2 of 180g/km and 196g/km respectively.
The Musso auto, which is the one driven here in Rebel trim (above EX but below Saracen and Rhino in the hierarchy), has a payload of 1,085kg (10kg less than the manual) and a towing capacity of 3.5t, which beats the 3.2t of the manual truck.
Spec levels are high throughout the line-up with DAB radio, Bluetooth and manual aircon on all models.
Rebel trim comes with 18in alloy wheels, roof rails, an 8.0in screen incorporating Bluetooth and a good rear-view camera (although there is no audible parking alert) that compensates for the limited view through the rear-view mirror, faux leather seats, a heated leather steering wheel, side steps to aid getting in and out of the cab, and Rebel graphics on the exterior.
You have to step up to Saracen trim to get satnav installed but this is not such a problem because Rebel gets Apple Car Play and Google Android Auto, which allows you to use the navigation on your smartphone by plugging it into a conveniently positioned USB port on the dash. The route map and directions can then be displayed on the vehicle’s dashboard screen, which is easy to view from the driver’s seat.
The cabin is well laid out with a decent amount of storage and a definite improvement on previous Ssangyong interiors. Back seat passengers on a couple of long journeys were most appreciative of the comfort and roominess provided.
On the downside there is no cruise control on Rebel trim, it gets added with Saracen, and when unlocking and entering the cabin you are greeted by an irritating ding-dong alert, reminiscent of the precursor to an announcement in an airport waiting room.
On the other hand, a class-leading seven-year 150,000-mile warranty is a definite plus.
A selectable four-wheel drive system, which comprises high and low ratios to match off-road demands, is simply operated via a central dial positioned close to the transmission selector. Our Rebel coped competently with the light cross-country track off-roading we subjected it to.
On-road the Musso is impressive. The engine is keen and responsive, which helps when overtaking, and double-wishbone front suspension combined with rear-mounted coils provides a pleasantly smooth ride. As is the way with most pick-ups, the rear does tend to bounce about when unladen but this settles down when there’s some weight in the back.
The six-speed auto transmission is occasionally slow to react when accelerating but is generally slick enough, the steering, though, is a little light with too much play when cornering.
Ssangyong Musso Rebel 181hp 2.2-litre automatic
Price (ex VAT) £24,745
Price range (ex VAT) £20,995-£29,245
Insurance group 41
Service intervals 12,500mls
Load length 1,300mm
Load width (min/max) 1,110/1,500mm
Load bay height 765mm
Gross payload 1,085kg
Engine size/power 2,157cc/181hp
Combined fuel economy 32.9mpg
A refined and capable pick-up with more than just competitive pricing going for it. Poor fuel economy lets it down compared to rivals, however.