2012 SsangYong Rexton in India first drive

Bertrand D'souza  /
23 May 2013 15:38:22 IST

SsangYong Rexton

Five things you'd like and dislike in the new SsangYong Rexton W.

ON THE BRIGHT SIDE

1.Styling

The Rexton W looks nothing like you expected. And in all probability what you expected was an ugly, dull and boring SUV because that's what you saw at the Auto Expo in New Delhi earlier this year. But take a look at the pictures again to convince yourself that this is a mighty good looking SUV. The grille has changed, yes it still seems to possess Mercedes design influences but that's not such a bad thing. The horizontal slats of the grille are similarly detailed to the last generation Merc M Class. The clear lens headlamps looks spiffy, the bright work within them is contemporary and presents a strong visual. Slimmer bumper, slimmer driving lamps, slimmer grille, slimmer lamps...this Rexton W went on a massive diet!

The interiors are also quite pleasantly styled, the large glass areas make this cabin look spacious, and the bright upholstery adds to the sense of luxury. It's a cheerful cabin and will keep you cozy on any drive.

2.Space

The Rexton W is 4.75 metres long and nearly 2 metres wide. That means you get a generous amount of space within the cabin, generous enough to seat up to seven passengers. If you have a large family with kids included the Rexton W has the space for you. There is enough room in the middle row but you cannot adjust that split bench. The third row will seat two but is best suited for children shorter than 5 feet, any taller and they'd be sitting with their knees raised all the time which is uncomfortable.

3.Features

It's one of the strongest suits of the Rexton W. You get a ton of features in this SUV, almost all of it is standard equipment and they are quite practical. For instance, you get several charging points in the cabin and smartly placed. There is one charging point on the dashboard to power your navigation system without having ugly cables trailing all over your dashboard. The steering wheel may not look aesthetically pleasing but it works. There are also two buttons you will find on the steering wheel tagged D+ and D-. Thumb either to upshift or downshift gears, its just an iteration the paddle shifters you usually find behind the steering wheel.

4.Ride Comfort

The Rexton W will easily flatten almost everything in its path and you wont even notice a thing as it rumbles across anything our roads can throw up. There is a double wishbone with coil springs suspending the SUV at the front and a multi link setup at the rear. The heavy duty shock absorbers do a fantastic job of damping shocks. The Rexton W will be a benchmark SUV in this segment where ride quality is concerned.

5.The Engine

The engine is a 2696cc 5-cylinder common rail direct injection diesel. The more important bit is that this engine comes from Mercedes so you get an iron clad motor that will last forever. This engine has two different power outputs depending on the transmission that is mated to it. The 6-speed manual gets less power, 165PS with 340Nm of torque, but that isn't inadequate, its more than enough for this SUV to do anything. The 5-speed automatic transmission which also comes from Mercedes gets 186PS and 402Nm of torque from the same engine. Our initial impressions were of the automatic transmission and it's a very quick engine, gives the Rexton W very strong acceleration.

There are few more strong areas in the Rexton W, one of which is its 4x4 ability. The automatic transmission gets a full time 4WD system with torque on demand. It's good enough for some moderate off-road excursions. But if you want more serious off-road ability then get the manual transmission which allows you to select between 4H and 4L drive mode for the more strenuous and back breaking work.

Another area that impressed us was the braking. Even from 100kmph the brakes were sharp and the ABS kicked in quite strongly, though the associated noises may make the whole emergency situation sound a lot more disturbing than it actually is.

ON THE DARK SIDE

1.Design details

Actually the quirks in the styling. On the outside there really isn't anything you'd not like, it is inside the cabin that a few design details that seem quite out of place or just not well thought out. Take for example the charging points that I mentioned about earlier, they are all in the front of the cabin with none easily accessible for the middle or third row passengers. Or the odd air con vents for the third row passengers, both of which are placed only on the right side of the cabin and on the side not roof mounted. The steering wheel looks completely out of place in this cabin where everything is nicely detailed and styled, the steering wheel looks like a last minute thought. All the buttons have just been slapped on and placed one below the other in a very ugly fashion.

2.Engine noise

The engine may be powerful but it's also quite loud. You can hear both the turbo whine and the engine roar get louder as the engine speed climbs up beyond 2500rpm. It's a tiring noise especially if you are driving this SUV over long distances. It also means that the sound deadening isn't adequate.

3.Handling

There is a lot of body roll and because you sit high up in this cabin you are more prone to sense this roll. It will make longer journeys uncomfortable especially if you are in the hills and the roads are twisty. It also makes the Rexton W feel quite unstable especially if you execute a emergency lane change though the electronic stability management system will keep things in check.

4.Steering

It lacks sensitivity, it isn't direct and it isn't precise.

5.Build Quality

Actually the build quality isn't too bad, though a bit more attention needs to be paid to the panel gaps. The Rexton W is assembled at Mahindra's new plant in Chakan near Pune, where the various components are put together. This needs to be stringently monitored, because if you run your hand over the exterior body panels for instance you can feel certain points where the panels don't feel flush where they meet one another. Even inside the cabin there are a few areas where you can see a few edges not closely fitting or that have been brought together too tightly. This improper fitting can very easily be eliminated.

On the whole there are very few areas of criticism in the Rexton. The weak handling and steering will disappoint only those who love driving and understand good engineering. If you aren't an enthusiast driver, or don't drive yourself, it won't make a difference

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