SsangYong's planning to play aggressively in the competitive ute market with its new double-cab Actyon Sports range that's priced way below its Japanese rivals. It's entering the fray with a six-model line-up that starts with a well-equipped base 2WD listing at $36,990.
At the other end, the loaded 4WD SPR with automatic costs $47,990, and another $1500 if you want a sunroof. All use a smooth, quiet two-litre turbo-diesel driving through a manual or automatic gearbox, both with six speeds.
Deon Cooper, managing director of SsangYong's importer, says the prices are thousands less than its competitors. For example, the new Ford Ranger XLT auto that is similar to the SPR costs almost $13,000 more. The entry 2WD Actyon Sports is $7000 less than its cheapest nearest equivalent, a Hilux.
SsangYong's offering a six-speed automatic for a $2000 premium, while some rivals lack an auto at the lower end of their ranges.
On paper the Actyon Sports is enticing, especially the 2WDs which have all the features and ride height of the 4WDs and lack only the 4WD components. Even at base level, the Actyons are well-featured, with such goodies as cruise control, Bluetooth, heated front seats, Isofix attachments for child seats, USB and auxiliary input ports, a trip computer, headlamp levelling, and central locking that also locks the tailgate.
The load tray, often criticised as being too small, is slightly enlarged and redesigned to be more load-friendly. It now holds just under 2.4cu m to the top of its tall wellside.
The four-cylinder 1998cc low-emissions e-SDI diesel engine, also used in different tune on the Korando, produces 114kW and 360Nm of torque from just 1500Nm. Almost 200Nm is available at little more than idle. The ute continues to use a separate chassis, coil-spring rear suspension and disc brakes on all wheels.
Load carrying is often a weakness of coil springs, but both the two and 4WDs can take a 750kg payload.
The ride is harsh and jiggly, the steering light and vague. Acceleration is average for its class, but at least the manual has a lovely gearbox, easily used, with well-chosen ratios.
The Australian-supplied DSI automatic is also notable and, as with other SsangYong automatics, gears can be manually changed by a cleverly placed toggle switch on the shift knob or from steering wheel buttons.
The utes can tow 2500kg, braked - a low figure for a modern ute, some of which are now rated for more than 3000kg.
At just over 200mm, the Actyon lacks ground clearance for driving in rugged terrain but is partly saved by having its underbody components tucked out of the way.
Gearing of the manual is well-suited to steep downhills off-road; the automatic is average.
The bottom line: SsangYong's pushing low prices to sell new Actyon Sports, but do they really represent value?
Pine Tree's 'beast'
Would Toyota's Crumpy be grumpy if he were alive and knew rugby legend Sir Colin Meads is treading on his patch of mud, promoting another 4WD ute?
You'll see him driving a SsangYong Actyon Sports ute off-road in a TV commercial that begins airing today, slamming the bonnet and declaring: "She's a beast".
Sir Colin told Driven that King Country junior rugby will be the winner from the association. Most rewards from the deal will go to assist up-and-coming players.
Sir Colin's main reward will be the use of a top-model Actyon Sports automatic, appropriately plated PINE T.