It's seldom that Fleet Van welcomes not only a new range of vans but a new manufacturer to the commercial vehicle market.
The last time I can remember it was back in the 1990s when Hyundai launched the H100. But it’s now 2009 and Korean maker SsangYong is offering two vehicles, the Kyron and Rexton, to the UK’s fleet buyers for the first time.
It’s not actually as big an achievement as you might think, as these vehicles are 4x4 cars that have had the rear seats removed and a load floor added, turning them into vans which buyers can claim back the VAT.
It’s a trick that several of the makers are employing – Land Rover, Kia and Citroën to name a few – and it seems to work quite nicely.
After all, there are plenty of fleets who need vehicles which aren’t afraid of getting their feet dirty – and they’ll also appeal to van drivers who don’t want to drive vans, as to the untrained eye, they look just like their car brethren.
Another pleasing point is that you can fool those money-grabbers on the Dartford crossing and sneak through as a car for £1.50 instead of coughing up the £2 required for LCVs. Heh heh.
But what is likely to appeal to fleet buyers most is the prices – the Kyron weighs in at £13,995 and the Rexton at £15,995 (all prices ex-VAT).
For the Kyron, that’s more than £3,000 less than the Land Rover Freelander Commercial we had on test recently.
The Kyron has a payload of 530kg and a cargo volume of 2.3 cubic metres. The Rexton has a volume of 2.1cu m but a bigger payload of 740kg.
A special guard to separate driver and passenger from flying loads is extra at £299 inc VAT.
A Mercedes T-Tronic auto transmission is an option on both models.
SsangYong is also making a tachograph fitting kit available for both models – something that isn’t available from some competitors.
Later, a two-wheel drive Kyron will be available at £11,999.
The Kyron uses SsangYong’s latest 2.0-litre, four cylinder turbocharged common rail diesel engine delivering 140bhp and 228lb-ft of torque.
Transmission is a five-speed manual with part-time four-wheel drive. Under normal road use the Kyron is rear wheel drive, with 4wd selectable at any time when the going gets tough.
The Kyron gets the same specification as the passenger car from which it is derived.
That includes electronic stability programme (ESP) with active rollover protection (ARP), and hill descent control (HDC) when working in slippery off-road sites.
It also has ABS brakes with electronic brake distribution and electric windows and door mirrors. Two 12-volt DC power outlets and roof bars also make things easier.
There’s also automatic climate control air conditioning and a six-speaker Kenwood audio system with CD and RDS radio and steering wheel controls.
The Kyron has a gross vehicle weight of 2,530 kg and will tow up to 2.3 tonnes. Extra urban fuel consumption in passenger car trim is 45.6mpg with CO2 emissions at 191 g/km.
The Rexton has a greater-punch with a five cylinder, turbo common rail diesel engine pushing out 165bhp at 4,000rpm and with torque of 250lb-ft at 2,400rpm.
A five-speed ‘torque on demand’ (TOD) manual transmission normally supplies most power to the rear wheels, but if things get slippery, the system automatically distributes power to the axle with the most grip.
A full-size 4x4, the Rexton C-S will tow up to 3.2 tonnes and it boasts similar equipment to the Kyron. It has a gross vehicle weight of 2,760 kg.
Extra urban fuel consumption of the passenger version is 37.7mpg.