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Andy Harris
Motoring and Property Editor
@ytimesmotoring
1:00 AM 28th October 2023
cars

Musso Makeover – Ssangyong’s Pickup On Test

 
Rewind to 2016 and a pickup from Korean manufacturer SsangYong could have been on your driveway for as little as £15,995 + VAT. A lot has happened since then, and the Musso pickup has gone distinctly upmarket, ably demonstrated by the vehicle which leaves me today, priced at almost £40,000 including tax. The burning question, therefore… Is it good enough?

SsangYong claim the UK pricing is competitive and to be fair, an EX model is available for around £30,000 with VAT and most of the rivals have become equally expensive. A recent Volkswagen Amarok test vehicle weighed in at circa £50,000 and you can now spec a Ford Ranger to that level too. Most are likely to be leased or bought on a PCP deal so perhaps I am making too much of an issue regarding the headline pricing.
My top-spec Musso Saracen is available for private buyers with a £11,796.88 deposit and 48 monthly payments of £489 (APR 8.9%). Not especially cheap in my eyes.

Enough about the monetary side, I am sure you are all dying to know what this recently updated Musso is like to drive. The simple answer is much like any pickup truck, though it does feel much spritelier than the official 0-62mph time of 11.9 seconds would suggest.

Aiding brisk progress is a familiar Aisin six-speed automatic gearbox, which changes smoothly most of the time. There are no steering wheel paddles, just a button on the side of the gear selector if you want to take control of the proceedings.

Since I last drove the Musso, the unladen ride is distinctly firmer than I remember and reading the press pack, it’s a five-link independent set up. I only comment as the old car’s yielding ride was a surprise. However, that suspension does allow for a payload of over one tonne, all while towing a braked trailer up to 3.5 tonnes too. Equipped for work without a doubt then. I gather that the Musso is the only UK pickup that can legally do this.

Musso shares its platform with the Rexton, which now sits on my driveway awaiting evaluation. The aim clearly is to endow the pickup with an SUV like feel. Certainly, the raised driving position ticks all the right boxes and the interior feels very car-like. Nappa leather covers the heated steering wheel, whilst front seats are both heated and cooled.

Rear seat legroom is generous, allegedly the best in the pickup segment. There should be no complaints from a pair of generously proportioned adults thus seated.
The load bed on my Saracen test truck had a retractable load cover and unlike some, it seemed more than capable of keeping anything stored beneath dry and of course safe from prying eyes. A longer load bed is an option and is appropriately monikered Saracen +. Add £1,250 plus VAT if required.

A large infotainment screen gives access to all the expected functions and includes a TomTom navigation system, untried as I prefer to use Waze on my phone, connected easily via Apple CarPlay. Android Auto is also fitted for those with an iPhone aversion.

One misty morning I sallied forth on one of my favourite off-road tracks and with four-wheel drive engaged (a simple turn of a knob), the gnarly track posed very little challenge. Ground clearance is better than the previous model, or at least the front spoiler sits a little higher. I must confess to catching the old one whilst crossing an unexpectedly large crater. More haste, less speed being the lesson learnt!

SsangYong has continued to develop the Musso into the capable and competitive pickup truck that it is today and can stand comparison with the Isuzu D-Max and Toyota Hilux for sure. The new Amarok and Ranger present more of a challenge and the Musso in top form does now rather run them close on price.

The value for money card that the Musso played in the past has now gone and that’s a shame as there is still a demand for a simple working truck. So, if pressed, Musso Saracen or Ranger Wildtrak, both around £40,000, I’ll take the Ford.

Fast Facts (as tested)
• SsangYong Musso Saracen
• Price £39,813 OTR (VAT inclusive)
• Range starts at £30,078 with VAT
• Indian Red paint
• 202PS 2.2-litre diesel engine
• 441Nm torque
• 6-speed Aisin automatic gearbox
• 0-62mph in 11.9 seconds
• Up to 31.5mpg
• Emissions 236g/km CO2
• Insurance group 50D
• Towing capacity 3,500kg
• 5-year/100,000 miles warranty