This four-seater pick-up is stylish and comfortable, finds Charlie Flindt, although its skittish suspension soon shakes one out of one’s comfort zone
Charlie Flindt finds the SsangYong Musso stylish, comfortable and generally a good country car. But the somewhat alarming suspension may cut short its stay at the farm.
For more on SsangYong, we find the SsangYong Rexton no-nonsense, straightforward and simple.
When we first tested the SsangYong Musso – or Korando Sports, as it was called then – we were mightily impressed. It was a sharply styled newcomer to the four-seater pick-up market, with coil springs at the rear (very rare on a pick-up), a monster warranty and a bargain price.
Five years on, the Musso is built to much the same formula: four doors, pick-up bed, huge warranty, good price and coil springs – of which more later. So let’s start with the good news. The Musso is heavily based on the new Rexton, which is a fine vehicle. So you get a smart interior with lots of space and very high levels of comfort – the leather seats are particularly good – and the controls and dashboard have taken another huge leap forward in terms of style and function.
Under the stylish bonnet is an old-fashioned, four-cylinder AdBlue-free diesel engine, which hauls the sizeable Musso along just fine despite being terrible economically. It’s smooth and civilised, and worked well with the six-speed auto in our test car. Maximum braked towing is a top-notch 3.5 tonnes – and you can have a tonne in the back at the same time.
The Musso is large; it’s quite a job to climb in (a job made harder by the prominent side steps, which are there to help you climb in), but the view is good – particularly over the bonnet, with its easy-to-see corners. The view to the rear is poor, and it is quite easy to lose sight of a small car driving too close behind the high tailgate.
My test car was the ‘Saracen’ edition, so it had had a complete taste by-pass, with icky stickers and chrome everywhere. Standard models are available, thank goodness, with a lower bling factor.
But what even the standard models will still have is a suspension problem. Full marks to SsangYong for persevering with coil springs at the rear; I bet many others have tried fitting coils to pick-ups and reluctantly returned to leaf springs. And while on the old Korando Sports they weren’t perfect, I felt sure that five years on we’d find something just right.
Alas, no. Something has gone terribly wrong with the Musso’s suspension. Now we all know that the many variables involved in getting the right combination of angles, damping rates and coil strength make setting up a second-hand, five-furrow reversible plough look like a doddle, but the final result in the Musso is skittish and occasionally alarmingly unstable. Over farm tracks it shudders and shakes, and at road speed it does the same only more scarily. There would be more than a hint of irony in settling the high-tech suspension by flinging a couple of hundredweight sacks of fertiliser in the back. Luckily, such things are rare on the farm nowadays.
It’s a great shame. Underneath the bling and the Tigger-style suspension is a really good country car. It just won’t stay still long enough for us to find it.
SsangYong Musso Saracen Auto
♦ Engine: 2,157 diesel
♦ Power: 181PS
♦ Max speed: 115mph
♦ Performance, 0 to 62: N/A
♦ Combined fuel economy: 32.8mpg
♦ Insurance Group: 43D
♦ Price: £32,361 (incl VAT)