THE Musso is an updated version of the Korando Sports pickup, but with a new name brought back from Ssangyong’s past.
Musso — Korean for ‘rhinoceros’ — brings not only an exterior update and renaming, but also a new engine, the Euro 6-compliant, 2.2-litre, E-XDI diesel. This can be paired with either a six-speed manual or a new six-speed automatic from Aisin. Prices range from €18,000 to €21,400.
The new engine has extra punch that improves the towing rating and improves the combined fuel economy of around 5%, but performance is unaffected.
The Ssangyong brand falls short on image. Of all of the Korean vehicle manufacturers that have reached the UK, Ssangyong is the one that has made the least positive impression — largely because it’s stuck to making large SUVs and utilitarian machines, like the Musso Pickup.
The Musso has very little street cred, but, for the most part, it’s just as good to look at as its rivals.
The redesigned cabin looks interesting, with an asymmetric set-up that proves a little awkward to use, at first, and has a few strange details. While the switchgear feels solid, the overall quality of the cabin isn’t up to scratch, yet — but, then, the same can be said of some pricier alternatives.
There are no doubts about the Musso’s practicality. We haven’t measured up the seat dimensions, but it’s almost a moot point — the cabin is vast, and even three abreast in the back isn’t that much of a problem. This makes it great for family use.
The load bay behind you is proportioned to fit a standard Euro pallet, with a total of 2.04 square metres. The 1,312-litre bed is fully lined, with tie-down points inside the bay, too, so you can safely pack any load. A range of load covers is available, too, so you can use it as a secure load area or put a camper back on it for your dogs, for example.
Total payload is one tonne — the same as its predecessor — while the Musso can now tow up to three tonnes, bringing it into contention with more expensive rivals.
Unlike the majority of vehicles in the pickup sector, the Musso makes use of independent rear suspension. This gives it a surprisingly compliant ride, whether running empty or with the load bay pushed to its one-tonne limit — we also tested the car with a load bay full of gravel, just to make sure.
Without the extra weight, the Musso can get a little soggy over bumps, but, by and large, it’s better than rivals that stick to more basic suspension.
The steering is somewhat mushy and vague, though, so if you have any ambitions to press on down a country road, it’s best to put them on the backburner.
At speed, there’s rather a lot of wind noise, coming from those huge wing mirrors, but it’s expected for this type of vehicle. Otherwise, it’s happy to sit at motorway speeds with little fuss, albeit with a little bit of body roll, if you make too quick a lane change.
In EX specification, you gain a reversing camera and it makes the pretty bulky Musso a breeze to park, particularly with that light steering. It would benefit from front-parking sensors, so as to judge the nose a little better.
The base model comes with 18” alloy wheels, leather-look seats, front and rear electric windows, power folding door mirrors, manual air-conditioning, CD & RDS radio with iPod & Bluetooth connectivity, and a multi-function steering wheel.
Our EX Auto-specification vehicle adds black 18” alloy wheels, roof rails, leather seats — heated in the front and electrically adjustable for the driver — a 7” touchscreen for operating the infotainment, rear-view camera with parking sensors, front LED daytime running lights, auto headlamps, rain sensing wipers, and cruise control.
If you’re self-employed and have a family, the Musso Pickup makes a lot of sense. Alongside being cheap — particularly if you can claim the VAT back — and practical, it’s roomy and comfortable enough to accommodate the children when it is not put to work.
Specify the optional load cover and the dogs can come, too.
Ultimately, the Musso Pickup proves a commendable all-rounder, but loses out to most of its rivals in most areas.
The engine and gearbox, particularly the automatic, are a huge improvement and certainly bring the Musso into consideration, with the good ride brought by the multi-link rear suspension proving something of a boon. All other considerations aside, though, the price (from €18,000 to €21,400) is very compelling.
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