The Mahindra SsangYong’s Rexton, the first SUV from the manufacturer which is expected to be launched in India has been unveiled at the Busan International Motor Show. The 2013 model is completely new and different to the Rexton II which we had reviewed last year. This is the fourth major update to the SUV which includes an all-new face and a revised backside. The Rexton W has been using the same body since 2001 and changes over the years have included a facelift and mechanical upgrades in 2006. The manufacturer made emission tweaks in 2010. SsangYong, which is known for its history of SUV manufacturing, is now under the Mahindra brand. This is the third generation Rexton and was completed over a period of two and a half years. Speaking at the unveiling, Lee Yoo-il, CEO of Ssangyong Motor said, “The Rexton W, unveiled at the show, is the new premium SUV, enhancing the dignity of the Rexton which has taken the lead in the Korean premium market, and is expected to reinforce its position in that market.” “The Rexton W will follow in the successful footsteps of the flagship premium SUV Rexton brand through advanced performance and quality.” The SUV is expected to be launched in India either end of 2012 or beginning of next year.
According to the manufacturer, the Rexton W, the 3rd generation of the Rexton, represents ‘harmony between moderated lines and sides, embracing modern style and luxurious charm with its aggressive projection headlamps shaped like the eyes of an eagle’. Changes have been made to the side as well and the lines seem to merge the front fender with the rear quarter. The rear taillamps are revised as well and they too have incorporated LED’s.
There are changes to the dashboard as well which now looks more contemporary. The instrument console remains the same but the manufacturer has added a lot of metallic inserts and on the centre console there are wood inserts as well. The SUV retains the same chunky steering which has controls for the audio and there is also a 6.5inch LCD screen located in the console which can be linked to a digital camera or camcorder.
The cabin is reasonably well finished and the gauges and dials are LED illuminated. Passenger space is generous, ergonomics are good and there are lots of storage places which make the SUV practical. The SUV can be bought in either 5 or 7 seats configuration. The luggage space is limited with all seven seats in position but you can however fold both the two rear rows to increase the luggage capacity to 1338-litres.
The biggest addition is the all new fuel efficient turbo diesel engine has been developed by Ssangyong. The new 2-litre engine replaces the 2.7-litre diesel unit which is borrowed from the old Mercedes M-class. The twin turbo charged engine produces 225PS and 500Nm of torque and the focus is on low end torque and improved drivability. The in-line 4 cylinder e-XDi200 Active Turbo Diesel engine is upgraded to Euro IV norms. There is a less powerful engine with a single turbo charger version which produces around about the same power as the Toyota Fortuner and the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport. According to the manufacturer the engine combines high fuel efficiency, low Noise, Vibration and Harshness with high performance and reliability. The engine is matched to a Mercedes derived 5-speed automatic transmission.
The Rexton W uses a triple-layer steel frame and chassis structure. The chassis is rigid and the body on frame configuration isn’t ideal for ride quality. The SUV uses a high tech self-levelling air suspension which is combined with electronically controlled air springs for the front double wishbones and a multilink rear setup. The ride quality is pretty good but the SUV does have lots of body roll and handling makes it a handful. The steering is light but it doesn’t give you much feedback. The 200mm ground clearance gives it good off road abilities and there is also a Hill Descent Control system.
The Toyota Fortuner is a runaway success in India with its imposing styling, refined and torquey engine along with Toyota’s renowned reliability. There is now also an option of an automatic gearbox and the cabin space is pretty good as well. Ride and handling however aren’t the best in the segment. The Mitsubishi Pajero Sport has a torquey engine, the manual gearbox has a good feel to it, interiors space is good and so is the styling. The ride is better than the Fortuner and the body roll isn’t as disconcerting. The Ford Endeavour is a butch looking SUV, engine is powerful and space is good. Ride and handling are some of its problems.
The Mahindra SsangYong Rexton now definitely looks much better. The styling is more contemporary and the interiors too have a better look and feel to them. Interior space is another of its strengths and the all new engine is far more refined and the power is more than adequate. It remains to be seen what engine the manufacturer will bring into India but if the Rexton wants to take on the Fortuner and the Pajero Sport then it will be important for the manufacturer to play the power card. Ride would be to the liking of most but handling isn’t the best around. The SUV will be launched either in end of the year or early next year and it would be imperative for it to be priced below theFortuner. The Rexton also needs to be marketed aggressively and positioned as a niche SUV.