The South Korean manufacturer returns to the Australian market as a factory-owned marketing operation.

After a long period of uncertainty, SsangYong Motors has returned to the Australian market with the latest version of its Musso ute, reinforcing its intention to challenge existing one-tonners from Japan, Thailand and China.

“We are determined to offer Australia a range of vehicles that is fun to drive, great value to own and complete with a suite of the latest safety technology,” said SsangYong managing director, Tim Smith.

Pricing for the Musso has yet to be announced, with its introduction slated for November. The equipment spec compares well with other utes, with a larger than average cab interior offering excellent shoulder and leg room front and rear, and the option of nappa leather seats.

The cargo area is protected by a fitted load liner, with a 12-V/120-W power outlet and rotating hooks to help secure cargo.

The four-wheel-drive system draws on SsangYong’s years of experience in all-wheel-drive technology and features a selectable 4×4 system. Power is delivered permanently to the rear wheels, with front-wheel-drive dialled in electronically as required, with high and low ratios available as conditions demand.

In the previous Musso, the drive system was by renowned specialist Borg Warner, but so far the company has not confirmed that it has continued with the same supplier. The system includes hill descent control and hill start assist to provide optimum grip, traction and safety.

In typical 4WD form, SsangYong has stayed away from monocoque construction, retaining the ladder frame chassis on which the separate body is joined via eight body mounts and large rubber engine mounts. With the high-strength steel construction of its quad-frame, the vehicle is stiffer than its competitors, achieved by using 1.5-Gpa-grade ultra-strength steel. The benefits are twofold, with greatly-improved body strength, but also reduced weight.

The Musso has also been tuned by Pininfarina (also now owned by Mahindra), to ensure low levels of noise vibration and harshness (NVH). Polyester wheel-arch linings reduce road noise, the engine bay includes better sealing to minimise sound and dust levels, and improve waterproofing, while wind noise is reduced thanks to detailing such as fourfold door sealing and aerodynamically designed wiper blades.

Safety standards are certainly on the high side and include six airbags on all models. Impact absorbing elements in the steering wheel and steering column minimise injuries from a frontal collision, while the structure and materials employed in the frontal area of the body are designed to improve pedestrian safety.

All models feature an advanced infotainment system that includes DAB radio, Bluetooth and MP3 connectivity, with Apple CarPlay and Android.

Other standard features include an adjustable tilt and telescopic steering wheel, electric windows, cruise control, central locking, and air-conditioning with fine dust filters.

The range-topping Ultimate version will come with cameras front and rear, and the latest suite of electronic safety aids including 360 degree around-view monitoring.

Musso in its original form was one of the few utes with a live rear axle featuring coil sprung rear suspension set-up, and, with a history of association with Mercedes-Benz for its engine range, albeit superseded power units, it brought instant street credibility to the brand.

The Musso in its earlier incarnation experienced very few problems, and the intervening years have resulted in the end of the joint venture with Mercedes-Benz and a new partnership in the form of Indian giant conglomerate Mahindra, which holds 73 percent ownership.

Gross combination mass for the new Musso is 6.75 tonnes and it offers a 3.0-tonne tow rating from the factory. Tim Smith is aware that the current norm for towing weights of utes is around the 3.5 tonnes mark and has stated the company is already working with suppliers to homologate for a 3.5-tonne rating.

The 2.2-litre four-cylinder, turbocharged in-line diesel is fully compliant with Euro 6 emissions legislation, ahead of the pack when compared with many of its competitors. Maximum power of 133 kW is produced at 4000 rpm, with peak torque of 400 Nm rated at 1400-2800 rpm. It comes standard with AEB/FCW, fabric seats, Bluetooth connectivity, a limited slip differential and full-size spare wheel.

Transmission-wise the choice is between a six-speed manual gearbox and a six-speed Aisin automatic transmission. With a kerb weight of 2080-2192 kg, dependent on model, the automatic offers maximum weight towing of 3000 kg, but buyers of the six-speed manual will be limited to 2800 kg. Maximum payload comes in at 688-800 kg, the fuel tank capacity is 75 litres, and expected fuel economy on the combined circuit is 7.9 l/100 km for the manual and 8.6 l/100 km for the six-speed auto version.

When launched in the UK earlier this year, the specification of the new Musso ute differed from that released prior to the Australian launch, with payloads listed at 1.0-tonne and with towing capacity increased to 3.5 tonnes. Factory support also resulted in a seven-year/150,000-mile warranty.

At over 5.0 metres (5095 mm), the new Musso is larger than its predecessor in every dimension, and gives one of the largest cabin interiors in its class. The load bed is also longer (1300 mm), wider (1570 mm) and considerably deeper (570 mm) that its forerunner, and easily takes a Euro pallet.

“We will also be launching a long-wheelbase version of Musso, with an extra 400 mm in the length of the load bed for tradesmen and farmers wanting the extra space, without sacrificing the towing performance or creature comforts,” said Mr. Smith.

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