SsangYong Rexton G4: Fourth time lucky
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The first thing everyone said to me while I had the Rexton G4 SPR was “gosh, that’s a big car”. They also then said, “Well I wouldn’t buy it.” When I asked why not I couldn’t get an answer. Is it because it is a Korean car? No, NZ loves those other Korean brands, so what has kept SsangYong on the back foot? It’s definitely not the Rexton.
A common misconception is that the SsangYong brand is cheap. Well it definitely isn’t priced in the same region as a Toyota Prado — its top model peaks at $92,000.
The Rexton G4 will set you back 24K less than a Prado, yet it has nearly everything the Prado has, apart from the Land Cruiser badge, obviously. But is that badge really worth an extra 20K? You could buy another car for that price. Yes, sure, that other car would be the SsangYong Tivoli, but it is still another car.
I drove the Prado last year and felt underwhelmed as I expected a lot more for the price. Where the Rexton G4 has made an impact is not so much in pedigree, but in how much car you get. At 70K, it’s by no means cheap — but compared to the others in the same category it really is a bargain.
Sure, Ford's Everest comes with Sat Nav and the Prado has it too - but all three have heated and cooled leather seats, multi zone air con — the Rexton has it all the way in the back like the Prado, but your kids will get a bit hot in the rear row of the Everest. The Everest and Prado have nice-looking 18-inch alloys, but the Rexton has stunning 20 inch rims.
The Editor tells me off when I write like a copywriter, but SsangYong have done a superb job with this point of difference, although the name “sputtering” does not do the wheel justice.
Extra touches that add to the points of difference are an automatic boot opener — stand by the boot with your key in the pocket and after three warning beeps it will open. No silly leg waving or digging in your pocket to find your keys when your hands are full of groceries or 17 golf bags: yes, it’s a big space in there.
Regarding space, in third place again is the Prado with 1833 litres, the Everest has a decent 2010 litres, but once again the Rexton wins with 2157 litres of luggage capacity. You really can get 17 golf bags in there, maybe more, but as I only own a dozen I had to guess at the total.
All three have different engines, the Rexton has the smaller 2.2 Litre turbo diesel, the Prado has a 2.8L and the Everest a 3.2L. Despite having the smallest engine, the Rexton can tow 500kg more than both of them achieving the industry high point of 3500kg.
Hmm, isn’t the Prado the “go-to” large SUV for towing? Hmm, maybe it’s the VX200 Land Cruiser, which retails close to $150,000? You could buy two Rextons for that price.
The Rexton also comes with a 150,000km factory warranty and a Mercedes Benz 7 speed automatic transmission. Given Benz’s new offering of a ute, it’s interesting timing that they are working with a large 4WD SUV.
Regarding off-road driving, the Everest is my pick, closely followed by the Prado — mainly because of that Land Cruiser pedigree. The SsangYong is just as capable, but with shiny 20 inch rims and road tyres, off-road driving is not what you buy this car for.
When it comes to advanced safety and autonomous driving aides, the Everest and Prado are clear winners. Even though all three have 5 star ANCAP ratings, only the Toyota and Ford come with adaptive cruise control, something missed on the Rexton.
The fourth generation Rexton has come a long way from the ugly duckling that first came ashore here in the early 2000s. Perhaps most interesting is how far it has come in sales.
With 2300 unit sales in 2016, it means you won’t be the only person driving a SsangYong. It doesn’t put this company at number one, but it is well ahead of a lot of very familiar car manufacturers that have been in New Zealand for significantly longer.
I’ve driven a few Chinese-made cars lately and though people like their look and price, mention it’s Chinese-made and they would prefer to run a mile than be seen driving one.
That stigma has been incorrectly attached to Korea’s SsangYong, but the new Rexton is clearly a challenge to any snobby Kiwi car buyer that you need to go test one for yourself.
SsangYong Rexton G4 SPR
Engine: 2.2litre turbo diesel
Transmission: 7 Speed Mercedes Benz automatic
Pros: 20 inch rims
Lots of car for a decent price
Cons: The cheaper stable mates affect this cars perception
No adaptive cruise control