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SsangYong G4 Rexton review: Bigger, but will it be better?

LiveMint logoLiveMint 30-05-2017 Hormazd Sorabjee

This is the latest iteration of the Rexton, Mahindra-owned Korean car-maker SsangYong’s flagship SUV in India. Work started on a clean sheet, and it looks nothing like the previous-generation model that was briefly on sale in India. SsangYong is betting big on it, but does it have what it takes to give popular SUVs like the Fortuner and the Ford Endeavour a run for their money?

Built on an all-new, high-strength steel, body-on-frame chassis, the new Rexton is lighter and tougher than before. The styling may still be a bit conventional, but it’s a massive step-up from the rather unimpressive last-gen Rexton. It has much better proportions, and a more mature design. And to top it off, measuring 1.8m in height and 4.8m in length, this is one massive SUV.

Like the exterior, there is nothing remarkable about the interior design, but everything feels quite nicely put together. The dashboard features several horizontal elements which accentuate the width of the cabin. The steering wheel, instrument panel and button-festooned centre console look smart. But what you can’t ignore is the massive 9.2-inch, high-definition infotainment screen, which is the largest in class. It packs in Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, navigation maps and a 360-degree camera which is sure to come in handy when parking this hulk of an SUV. There’s also a key-sensing auto-locking and tailgate-opening function. So, you can simply walk away with the key in your pocket and the car locks automatically. Come back with your hands full of shopping bags and the tailgate opens on its own too. Top-end versions will also get a 10-speaker Infinity sound system.

The Rexton’s cabin exudes top-class quality. The plastics have a nice soft feel to them, and the Nappa leather with a quilted pattern used all around the cabin feels rich. It’s safe to say that the new Rexton’s cabin is best in class.

Like most body-on-frame SUVs, getting into the Rexton is a bit of a climb; the slim running board will be an essential feature, especially for elderly passengers. Settle into the comfortable seats and you’ll be hugely impressed with the space on offer. There’s ample head- and leg-room in both rows and the high-set rear seat makes for a very comfortable seating position. The G4 Rexton is a five-seater, but a seven-seater variant is also planned for India.

The power comes from a 2.2-litre diesel developing a healthy 187hp and 420Nm of torque. This motor comes with two gearbox options, one being a six-speed manual and the second, a traditional seven-speed torque converter automatic. It’s the latter we took for a spin on the test track at SsangYong’s Pyeongtaek factory in South Korea.

The first thing you will notice is how quiet this engine is for a diesel. Noise levels in the cabin are impressively low, and the overall refinement is quite commendable. This engine, however, lacks the punch that is expected from diesels in big, brawny SUVs. It pulls quite well, but in a rather sedate manner. It also feels quite strained when you try to rev it hard. Sadly, the impressive power and torque figures don’t translate into much on the road, and we suspect the Rexton will struggle to match up to rivals in its performance. The Rexton cruises quite well though, and the seven-speed auto has been trained to select the highest-possible ratio which is good for efficiency too. So, if you don’t rush it, the Rexton will do the job in a relaxed sort of way.

Also, the Rexton has a soft suspension, so it leans and wallows quite a bit when going around bends. What’s nice, though, is that the steering is quite light, and that makes it quite easy to drive.

It will be a while before you can buy it here in India though. Mahindra plans on producing it locally at one of its plants to keep prices competitive. And that’s because if it is to stand a chance against established rivals like the Endeavour (around Rs24.90 lakh, ex-showroom, New Delhi) and the Fortuner (around Rs25.92 lakh, ex-showroom, New Delhi), the Rexton should be priced significantly lower, by around Rs4 lakh.

Mahindra is likely to bring the Rexton to India at the 2018 Auto Expo. What remains to be seen, however, is whether it will hit Indian shores as a SsangYong, or a badge-engineered Mahindra.

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