Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Compared with SUVs, pickups are generally rather unsophisticated to drive, but the Ssangyong Musso is one of the better of the breed.
Its steering, for one thing, is up there with the likes of the Ford Ranger and Volkswagen Amarok for precision. And, though it may look quite top heavy, body roll is reasonably well controlled through corners.
However, its resistance to lean comes at a price: poor ride quality. To prevent the Musso from pitching and rolling too much through the corners, and to cope with really heavy loads, Ssangyong has fitted the Musso with pretty stiff suspension. The result is a ride that is lumpy and unsettled on anything other than the smoothest sections of motorway although, to be frank, no pickups ride brilliantly.
We tried the Musso with a 700kg stack of bricks in the load bay, and that extra weight did help settle things down a bit, although there's still plenty of shudder through the body over imperfections in the road.
Longer Rhino models get heavier-duty leaf springs instead of the more car-like coil springs of shorter models. Although the Rhino certainly doesn’t ride particularly worse as a result, the way it lumps and shudders over bumps and crevices is similarly irksome.
Ssangyong’s 2.2-litre diesel engine is pleasingly strong, so the Musso feels perfectly comfortable both in town and out on the open road although it’s not remotely fast; 0-62mph takes 11.9sec for the automatic or 11.3sec for the manual. That’s quicker than some rivals, but the Volkswagen Amarok and punchier versions of the Ford Ranger soundly thrash it. Nevertheless, it’s relatively quiet, even when pushed hard. In this respect, the Musso is better than nearly all of its rivals; only the Amarok has a smoother, quieter diesel engine.
We’d pick the six-speed automatic gearbox over the perfectly pleasant manual alternative, despite its occasional hesitancy when swapping gears. Why? Because it’s still entirely acceptable and, crucially, the best choice if you want to tow as it has a slightly higher towing limit of 3500kg (versus the manual version’s still-impressive 3200kg) – which is up there with the most muscular of pick-ups. Plus, it can carry its maximum payload (1095kg) while towing a 3500kg trailer at the same time – and that’s something its rivals can’t do. The Rhino is able to tow the same 3500kg braked trailer with a higher 1140kg maximum payload.
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