Late in 2013 we took some of SA’s most popular SUVs to Botswana for a vehicle safari through the Khwai Conservancy. We’ll be posting reviews of all the vehicles that accompanied us over the next couple of weeks. You can read our travel article about the trip here, and you can find all the other vehicle articles under the “Driving Impressions” category.
Matched against some large SUVs during our trip, the mid-sized SsangYong Rexton was punching above its weight. Would it be able to keep up? There was one stretch of road that had us worried…
You have to give it to SsangYong – their designs have improved a lot over the last few years. Vehicles such as the new Korando, Actyon Sports and Rexton W all look good, suggesting that the company’s era of dubious design choices has finally passed.
Purportedly, the “W” in the Rexton W stands for “world class”, making it clear that the company wants to take its vehicles to the next level. But is this model world class? Well, it’s not quite at the level of the Teutonic brands yet, but it is getting close, and there is no denying that it is very well equipped.
The Rexton W Deluxe boasts climate control, rear park assist, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, leather seats and dual airbags.
Under the bonnet, it has a five-cylinder 2,7-litre oilburner that generates 121 kW of power and 340 Nm of torque. That’s not oodles of power, but it is more than enough for the mid-sized Rexton.
So, with a decent oilburner to power it, and all sorts of impressive accoutrements in its cabin, the Rexton is definitely a vehicle that can take on established global brands.
But could the SsangYong deal with Botswana’s tough roads? As we had discovered during the recce of our route, the road through Chobe National Park towards Kasane was terrible.
Now, the Rexton was a good looking and plush SUV that performed impressively around town, but could it really handle that potholed and uneven stretch? To make matters worse, there was deep sand in places, demanding a fair amount of power to keep momentum going.
Thankfully, the Rexton surprised us, dealing with the suspension-breaking road with more aplomb than we could reasonably have hoped for. With the drive system switched to 4H (the Rexton also has low range) it didn’t miss a beat. That stylish exterior clearly hid some impressively hardcore underpinnings.
Proving that it could run with the big boys, the Rexton had won us over. SsangYong truly can call its SUV “world class”.