There’s just one engine on offer in the Rexton: an old Mercedes-sourced 2.7-litre turbodiesel with 163bhp. It feels very lethargic in most conditions, and the speed of your progress is hampered further if you go for a version with the five-speed automatic gearbox.
The Rexton’s rugged separate-chassis construction means it is poor on-road. The slow-witted steering is vague and makes parking cumbersome, there’s too much lean through bends and the ride perpetually feels too bumpy. A low-ratio transfer ’box and four-wheel drive help it feel at home in the rough, however.
As with most 4x4s, the Rexton’s big tyres and bluff shape generate more road- and wind noise than a conventional saloon. However, the diesel engine is also harsh and noisy, because it needs working hard. Manual versions have a heavy, imprecise gearshift and long-travel pedals, and the automatic gearbox isn’t exactly smooth, either.
The Rexton is a large 4x4 for the price of a compact model, and it has genuine off-road ability. However, its running costs are high; you won’t get much more than 30mpg, and all models are in the 35% company car tax bracket. Resale values are also very weak indeed.
While most big 4x4s have a luxurious feel, the Rexton really doesn’t. The materials used look and feel desperately cheap, so there isn’t much to love. The engine is sourced from Mercedes and should prove hardy, but it needs to be serviced every 6000 miles.
The Rexton lacks key items offered in most modern 4x4s. Curtain airbags are not available, and some versions don’t even have front side airbags. Stability control and hill descent control are standard, though, and so is an alarm to deter thieves.
The upright driving position gives a commanding view of the road ahead, and although some of the controls could do with clearer markings, the dash is logically laid out. All versions have height adjustment for the driver’s seat and steering column, but the absence of reach adjustment on the steering, plus the long-travel pedals, mean you might end up sitting uncomfortably close to the wheel.
Headroom is decent throughout, while there’s plenty of legroom for front and rear passengers. You also get two further rear seats that fold up from the boot floor, allowing you to carry seven people. These are pretty tight on space, though. In five-seat mode, the boot is large, if not especially wide, and the rear seats fold and tumble to provide extra luggage space.
Entry-level S models have climate control, keyless entry, front and rear electric windows, power-folding door mirrors, Bluetooth and 16-inch alloy wheels. That’s plenty to be getting on with. If you want more luxury kit, EX cars come with 18-inch alloys, leather upholstery, heated and electrically-adjusting seats and a sunroof. Options include satellite-navigation.
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The Rexton is no luxury ride, nor terribly refined, but if you can look beyond its obvious flaws, it represents good value, with a spacious interior and off-road ability.