The new SsangYong Musso enters the pick-up market at the very bottom of the price list for those wanting both Euro 6 compliance and the all-important one-tonne payload capacity, exempting it from VAT.
Entry-level SE models are priced from £15,995 (ex VAT), and the most expensive EX with an automatic gearbox will set you back a mere £18,995. To put that into perspective, its nearest rival, the Isuzu D-Max, costs around £2,500 more like-for-like.
Only one engine is available and it’s all-new for SsangYong – a 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel, which develops 175hp and 295lb-ft of torque.
Pulling power is good, as you might expect. The engine rarely seems to struggle, is refined at lower revs and gives the Musso the capacity to tow a three-tonne trailer.
Fuel economy is reasonable too. It manages 40mpg on paper (37mpg for the auto) and emits 186g/km of CO2.
Drive can be sent to either two or all four wheels using a dash-mounted selector switch. There is also a low range option for more challenging conditions.
Unlike most of its rivals, the Musso has only one bodystyle – double cab. When coupled with its sub-five-metre length the load bay is quite small though it can manage a Euro pallet.
The total load area is just more than two square metres and gives a load length of 1,275mm, making it nearly 200mm shorter than that of the Mitsubishi L200.
Inside the cab there is plenty of space both front and back. In the EX model we tested there are heated leather seats, climate control and a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system.
Road and wind noise are reasonably subdued, but it’s out on the road where the vehicle starts to live up (or should that be down?) to its low list price.
The steering is extremely light but the steering rack is slow so it takes a fair amount of work to change direction.
On the motorway this translates into a very unrelaxing drive and it’s even worse on country lanes where tighter corners require significant input from the driver.
Ride quality is also sub-par, despite the Musso actually having a rather sophisticated multi-link suspension setup with independent coil springs all-round.
I can only liken it to a bouncy castle. It leans into corners and dives under braking, yet on a rough road the whole truck shakes as if it has no suspension at all.
With a 600kg load on board we were expecting the ride quality to improve, but, unfortunately, it made no difference other than creating extra ‘lean’.
It certainly won’t suit the high mileage driver in the same way as a Nissan Navara or Volkswagen Amarok would. But with a five-year unlimited mile warranty, decent build quality and its strong load-lugging capability, for the money it will make a decent site vehicle or workhorse.