Great Cars For Great People: SsangYong Musso

A familiar name returns to the price lists this month, as SsangYong rebrands its value-led pick-up truck. The adoption of the Musso name is a flashback to the first model to be imported into the UK, and serves as a replacement for the outgoing Korando Sports. But the name change is only part of the story, as the pick-up has been upgraded with a revised interior, a new Euro-6 2.2-litre diesel engine and six-speed automatic transmission. The re’s, 23bhp of extra power, 291b ft of additional torque, together with a maximum towing weight of three tons, which is ideal for those seeking to tow a load.

The price tag has understandably been elevated, but still remains one of the cheapest pickups on the market and features the best warranty in the business, with five years of cover and unlimited mileage. Turn the key and you wonder if the engine has actually started. The unit is one of the quietest you’ll experience, and this tranquillity continues on the road, unless of course you’ve got the accelerator pedal buried in the footwell, when the engine becomes more vocal.

On the move, there’s some wind noise, but sounds from the tyres and road are kept nicely in check. Our test car had a full load of gravel installed in the flatbed, designed to demonstrate the kind of work that this vehicle could be put to. Performance off the line feels quite sprightly, with sufficient power not to disgrace itself alongside other vehicles. The brand new six-speed automatic gearbox is responsive and smooth and is transformed compared to the unit in the previous model. Tidy handling and good road manners are the order of the day, with good grip levels when cornering. The steering is light enough for town work, but has a vagueness as the speed increases, and we wish it was more responsive, with greater agility. And while the suspension is generally well judged, soaking up the worst of the potholes and undulations nicely, at lower speeds, the ride does, on occasions, have a jittery feel. The update of the cabin brings soft-touch surfaces to the dashboard and door tops, with all of the materials feeling solid, durable and built-to-last. There’s a friendly feel to the layout, with a circular theme to many of the controls, and all sited within easy reach.

Significant upgrades make this pick-up better to drive and more user friendly than its predecessor.

The centre console is nicely angled towards the driver and the white, red and black instruments are all super clear. The re are areas that feel old fashioned, but of greater importance in a workhorse like the Musso is user friendliness, which it does rather well. There’s a huge amount of storage dotted around the cabin, with a big bin ahead of the gear lever, together with a decent sized armrest cubby and glovebox. Only the slitlike door pockets are a disappointment. There’s acres of space both front and back, with generous head and legroom. The floor is flat for back seat passengers, too, so three abreast is manageable. Slim pillars all round make it a joy to manoeuvre around town, in combination with the rear parking sensors and a long list of other equipment that comes as standard on this flagship EX model.

4 Crossovers That Will Get Your Attention

nissan-juke-upper

Ssang Yong Tivoli 1.6 EXG

ssang-yong-tivoli

Price: $19,000
Power: 126 hp @ 6000rpm
Torque: 160 Nm @ 4,600rpm

SsangYong has made a comeback to the Philippine market after being handled by less-than-able companies in the past. Under the stewardship of Berjaya Auto Philippines, the Korean carmaker faces far brighter prospects in the local auto industry. I found the Tivoli, an unknown vehicle, very interesting and it definitely impresses with its specs and price!

Strong points:

  • Mini Countryman look-alike
  • Great customer service
  • Decent trunk space

Weak points:

  • Untested longevity
  • Unknown performance
  • Limited service centers

Nissan Juke 1.6 Upper

nissan-juke-upper

Price: $20,000
Power: 114 hp @ 5,600rpm
Torque: 154 Nm @ 4,000rpm

After our brief visit to SsangYong on Quezon Avenue, we walk over to the Autohub Group-owned Nissan High Performance Center. This establishment is the only authorized service center for the recently launched R35GT-R. While we don’t check out the GT-R, we do take a closer look at the Juke, which is becoming a huge hit for the young and young at heart searching for a fun-looking crossover.

Strong points:

  • Within budget
  • Exciting but economical
  • Fresh brand presence

Weak points:

  • Very small trunk
  • Low rear headroom
  • Questionable resale value

Ford EcoSport 1.5 Titanium

ford-ecosport

Price: $20,000
Power: 108 hp @ 6,300rpm
Torque: 142 Nm @ 4,500rpm

Ford EDSA is slowly becoming a regular stopover due to its convenient location and proximity to other dealerships. The American carmaker’s cute and popular EcoSport is winning the hearts and garage space, particularly of the fairer sex. And owning a Ford nowadays has never been easier thanks to aggressive pricing, special deals and discounts, and freebies. There’s a readily available supply of EcoSports, too.

Strong points:

  • Affordable
  • Well-appointed
  • Cool features like sunroof

Weak points:

  • Initially feels underpowered
  • Parts availability issue
  • The smallest in the group

Isuzu MU-X LS-A 4×2 2.0 VGS AT

isuzu-mu-x

Price: $29,000
Power: 161 hp @ 3,200rpm
Torque: 380 Nm @ 1,800-2,200rpm

Technically speaking, the MU-X shouldn’t be on this list because it’s much bigger and well over the budget. But the MU-X seems to offer the best value for money, for a 4×2 automatic variant. The biggest selling point of the MU-X is that Isuzu diesels last forever, and are also super-efficient.

Strong points:

  • Diesel powertrain
  • Biggest cargo space
  • Very good ground clearance

Weak points:

  • Well over the budget
  • Difficult to get in and out of
  • The biggest in the group