Ssangyong SA’s first move following their merger with Indian super-manufacturer Mahindra was to release an all-new Rexton W. With improvements all round, a low-range gearbox, shift on the fly and a plush interior, the new Rexton is set to change opinions of the South Korean company
Text: Anzet du Plessis
The Rexton Suv is currently the biggest vehicle on offer from Ssangyong SA, which is now part of Mahindra and Mahindra India, benefitting from their 22-strong dealer network. This, the Rexton W, is the third generation of the mid-sized SUV and it’s clear that Ssangyong is serious about improving the perceptions of the vehicle. The “W” reportedly stands for “world class” and it’s more than wishful thinking.
Regarded as a budget SUV, the second generation Rexton was a decent vehicle but suffered bad interior quality and noise issues. The upgrade in the Rexton W is substantial, especially in the Deluxe, seven-seater model that we had on test. It has leather seats, automatic transmission and cruise control. The interior now includes satellite controls on the steering wheel and Bluetooth handsfree functionality. Climate control, rear park assist and a flip-up rear glass in the tailgate are also on the list. Aside from features, however, the biggest improvement is in the quality. The cabin has come a long way to be on par with modern standards.
The Rexton has come on in leaps and bounds, but it still faces tough competition. GWM’s H5 4×4 for example, has been greatly improved. The Rexton now feels far more refined in terms of creature comforts and noise levels in the cabin, but the 2.7-litre turbodiesel engine can be a bit sluggish off the line. It produces 121kW of power and is a comfortable cruiser on the open road. Its 340N, of torque is produced at a low 1800 r/min, ensuring great traction on gravel and rough roads. The all-wheel drive system has a rear-wheel drive bias until it’s necessary to shift more power to the front in order to switch to four-wheel drive (there is shift on the fly) in thick sand or very loose gravel.
The Rexton also has a low gear mode, which works well with the high torque level and greatly increases the vehicle’s scope when it comes to choosing destinations.
As an overlander, the Rexton W would be quite comfortable. It’s spacious, the auto ’box – greatly improved in terms of shift time – gears down quickly for overtaking, and it’s capable for the price tag. The Rexton’s size makes it a bit cumbersome in urban traffic – although easy to park – as power delivery low down in the revs could be better, making the SUV feel lazy at times.
At a price tag of R389 995 for the seven-seater Deluxe model, it’s comparable to the new Subaru Forester 2,5XS auto, which doesn’t have low-range gearing. So, in terms of value for money, the features and gear list, the deal doesn’t look bad. But it will take Ssangyong some time to match the engine and chassis refinement of competitors like the Chinese GWM, whose products are improving just a bit faster with each generation of vehicles released. Nevertheless, the new Rexton W is truly worth a closer look, as is Ssangyong as a company. Their dealer network and after-sales support are improving rapidly, and their flagship SUV should win over many new fans. Their biggest challenge will be getting potential buyers to test drive the vehicles, but they are focusing on the qualities that such a shift requires. So, if you’re in the market for an all-in-one SUV priced at less than R400 000, be sure to add this new model to your list of options.