The success of 4x4 type vehicles here in Ireland is evident by the number of them you see on our roads, however you are today more likely to see them driven by mums
doing the school run rather than scrambling over some tough off-road terrain.
As this has been the trend Europe-wide manufacturers have responded by making their 4x4’s more like cars than rugged off-roaders. The result is a market awash with lifestyle 4x4 vehicles.
The furthest off-road some of these vehicles will get is a pavement in Dublin 4, however their popularity is undiminished and they remain to many a status symbol.
The Ssangyoung Rexton is yet another competitor for many of the aforementioned 4x4’s and though it is larger than the Rav-4 type vehicles it is not quite as big as say the Range Rover, so it fits somewhere in between.
The new Rexton benefits from both technical and cosmetic upgrades which combine to make great improvements to the car.
The original Rexton was designed by the famous Italian car designer Giugiaro of Ital design and it shows. This is without doubt one of the nicer looking 4x4 vehicles.
Changes to the new model include a new front grille, new headlight assembly, new rear tail lights and other minor cosmetic upgrades.
The interior has been freshened-up too, with improved quality of materials, including a new wood grain finish, leather steering wheel and gear knob, and chrome sills all of which combine to make the latest Rexton look that bit more up-to-date.
The driving position is excellent giving a commanding view of the road ahead.
Standard specification is very high and includes, all round electric windows, remote locking, folding electric mirrors, headlamp levelling, windshield wiper electric de-
icer, gorgeous 18 inch alloys, ABS, with ESP (EBD, TCS, BAS.) a limited slip differential, multiple airbags, climate control, roof rails, a good sound system with AUX and USB ports and of course Bluetooth.
The cabin feels very well put together. I must say this is one area that particularly stands out, this Rexton is top quality.
The new 2.0 litre DTR really is the making of this Rexton. it offers 14% better fuel economy and lower emissions. With 155 PS on tap from its direct injection common rail diesel the new Rexton is a lovely performer. The engine is super quiet, very smooth and refined whether at idle or when cruising on the open road. The automatic version which I tested uses the latest E-Tronic auto with 5 speeds and it works very well. The new transmission uses a part-time 4wd system which makes changing from normal 2wd to 4wd simplicity itself, you just turn the switch to select 4 WD or 4WD Low.
Overall performance is very good with smooth power delivery and slick gearchanges from the auto box.
If the Rexton has one area that I was not fully happy with it is the on road handling.
It’s safe and predictable, but the car leans heavily in corners with just too much body roll and on wet roads will start to slide gradually but earlier than some rivals. In general it feels too soft and underdamped. To be honest for the most part this problem does not manifest itself, but start to whisk down a twisty country road and you will soon find yourself hindered by the lack of body control.
Its joggly and unrefined on poorer road surfaces.
In general though on smooth surfaces it’s impressively refined, very comfortable and surprisingly quiet. Accommodation in the front and rear is generous and the load area is pretty big too.
I was genuinely impressed with the latest Rexton. The 2.0 DTR auto 5 seat Business Edition (5 Seat Utility) tested costs €41,377, while the entry level 2.0 DTR Commercial manual costs €34,119.
It looks well and is very well equipped, indeed I cannot think of a rival that could beat it on spec at this price. With a value for money package that lacks nothing in terms of quality it should do well. The new Rexton is a very a capable off-roader should you need to venture that way, and so is more rugged than many lifestyle 4x4’s.