Design and Engineering

Design and Engineering

Good The current generation model arrived here in August 2005 and received an earlier than usual mid life facelift in May 2007, however it was the technical upgrade in February 2008 that saw the undersized 16 inch wheels replaced by larger 18 inch alloys that better fill out the Rexton’s wheel arches. The top of the range SPR grade adds a rear spoiler and a body kit for a little extra street presence. The traditional 4x4 ladder-frame chassis = true off road ability.
Not so good Ladder-frame chassis = less than car like handling on road; we agree with Ssangyong when they say the bonnet character lines and headlight design is ‘unique’, but we’d also add ‘odd’.
Interior and Styling

Interior and Styling

Good Practical and mostly roomy interior (for an off-roader at least) with a choice of five or seven seats. The front seats are comfortable, the steering features audio controls and the circular design theme for the controls on the centre console looks refreshingly different, yet is still functional. The SPR grade adds leather seats, heated in the front row and with electric and memory adjustment. Thankfully the previous woodgrain trim (which did NOT look like it ever came from a tree) has been replaced by a smarter, almost black in colour finish.
Not so good The leather bound steering wheel adjusts for rake but not reach; second row legroom is only average and the not that wide body means three adults sitting abreast is a bit of a squeeze. The optional third row seats fold flat on top of the floor, rather than in the floor, minimising cargo capacity.
Performance

Performance

Good The five cylinder 2.7L diesel is offered in two tunes, the XDI grade with a decent 121kW of power and 340Nm of torque (available as a five speed Manual or five speed Automatic) and the Automatic only XVT SPR with a close to class leading 137kW and 402Nm. On road the performance of the XDI grade is pretty good (for a true off-roader anyway), with lots of ‘oomph’ from low in the rev range = no need to rev the 2.7L excessively. The greater power & torque of the SPR grade is down to a newer variable geometry turbocharger and this engine also comes standard with a ‘Thumbs Up’ manual shift feature as standard.
Not so good The 2.7L Diesel is noisy – clattering at idle and whilst we’ve praised the generous torque of the SPR grade, it’ll struggle to keep up with a run of the mill Toyota Corolla off the lights.
Ride and Handling

Ride and Handling

Good Both grades offer a comfortable ride on and off-road. Whilst the standard grade’s all wheel drive system allocates power to its rear wheels under normal conditions, under slippery or off-road conditions the all wheel drive system will automatically transfer power to the front wheels for greater stability. The SPR grade goes one better with a permanent AWD system. Off-road ability is very good (however the standard 18 inch tyres are more suited to the tarmac than mud and rocks).
Not so good The standard grade’s agricultural live rear axle is great for off road ability but far less so for on road handling. The suspension is overly soft, resulting in excessive body roll when cornering. The SPR grade’s independent rear suspension is better, but still nothing special and the ‘speed sensitive’ steering feels vague, lacking in feel.
Buying and Owning

Buying and Owning

Good All grades tick the safety box with standard Anti-lock brakes, Electronic Stability Control and front & side airbags for the driver & front passenger. Climate control Air Conditioning and cruise control is also standard across both grades and the SPR grade adds useful safety features such as automatic rain sensing wipers, automatic headlights and an automatic dimming rear view mirror.
Not so good Second and third row passengers miss out on curtain airbags (an important safety feature) and the standard grade's official combined fuel economy of 9.8L per 100kms is only average against diesel competitors (impressively the SPR grade is more powerful yet also more economical).