Ssangyong was active in the Malaysian market in the early 2000s up till about 6 years ago when the brand ceased to be sold locally. During that time, Competitive Supreme (the distributor) introduced a variety of models like the Chairman limousine, the large Stavic MPV, Rexton SUV and even a pick-up known as the Actyon. Since then, Ssangyong has continued to update its models but we don’t get to see them as no one is representing the brand now (although there was some talk about a company exploring the possibility). The Korean carmaker went bankrupt in 2009 and was acquired by India’s Mahindra & Mahindra in 2011.

Since coming under the Indian company, SsangYong has continued to develop new models and one of the recent ones is the new Musso pick-up which sits on the same platform as the latest Rexton (which is only in its second generation since the model line was launched in 2001). Thus it also has the traditional body-on-chassis frame construction that offers advantages in load-carrying and durability.

The exterior design of the Musso pick-up (Musso is Korean for rhinoceros) is inspired by ‘the dignified motion of nature’, one of the elements of SsangYong’s design language known as ‘Nature-born 3 Motion’. Besides ‘dignified’ two other keywords of the nature-inspired philosophy are ‘dynamic’ and ‘rhythmical’.

The bold chrome line across the radiator grille and the curves of the bonnet emphasis robustness while the shoulder wing grille – now a characteristic styling cue of all new SsangYong models – stretches out to the headlights. Dynamic character lines to the side and especially the rear, add a sense of power and volume to the vehicle.

The doors are designed to cover the sills along the lower part of the body to ensure passengers don’t pick up dirt from the side of the vehicle when getting in and out. The load deck is an extremely large and useful cargo area which is sized to accommodate a Euro pallet (800 x 1200 x 144 mm). The cargo area also comes equipped with a 12V/120W power outlet and rotating hooks for strapping down loads when required.

The interior doesn’t follow conventional pick-ups in that it has more refinement and a premium ambience. In some markets, the seats have soft-textured Nappa leather upholstery on the more expensive variant as well as ventilation fans installed in the seats. SsangYong claims the cabin is one of the most spacious in its segment, with the second row of seats for three persons offering plenty of leg and elbow room

The powertrain employs a 2.2-litre e-XDi220 turbodiesel engine manufactured by SsangYong which delivers maximum power of 181 ps/420 Nm. Customers can choose a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic (made by Aisin), with power going to all wheels through an AWD system. Most of the time, the system will stay in rear-wheel drive but when required, the front wheels can also be powered, with high and low ratios available as conditions demand.

SsangYong engineers worked hard to bring down noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels. Some approaches taken were the use of 8 body mounts and polyester wheel-arch linings. The engine bay also includes better sealing to improve sound, dust and waterproofing while the fitment of large rubber engine mounts helps reduce engine noise and vibration. Wind noise is also reduced by having 4-fold door sealing and aerodynamically-designed wiper blades.

With the high-strength steel construction, the Musso is said to be stiffer than its competitors. This is achieved by using 1.5Gpa-grade ultra-strength steel – a world first – and having up to 81.7% of high strength steel. This not only gives greatly improved body strength but also reduced weight.

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[Chips Yap]

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