Weird Science

There is far more to this Korean off-roader than a dubious name as Simon Arron discovered

You are unlikely to miss a SsangYong Musso, should you happen to overtake one. Its cosmopolitan origins (designed by a Briton Ken Greenley to utilise German running gear for an Asian parent company) have yielded something which looks like no other road-cum-utility vehicle the rakish lines, the exaggerated overhang, the roof spoiler . Designer Greenley says: “I wanted the sophisticated car surface sculpture of prestige European manufacturers, with the addition of a subliminal message of progressive modernity.” So now you know. Personally, it strikes me as being vaguely reminiscent of something from a 1970s Matchbox catalogue. But it is extremely, capable, if under stressed at present. The chassis was designed to cope with a forthcoming 3.2-litre, 220bhp 24-valve V6, at the moment, however, it’s available only with a smooth, but sluggish, Mercedes five-cylinder diesel, with 94 naturally aspirated bhp.

It’s fine once it’s on the move, it just takes a while to get moving, though mid-range flexibility is good, thanks to a level torque curve which peaks at 135 lb ft between 2500-2800 rpm.

It isn’t just the shape which is innovative. A dash panel switch actuates an electronic transfer box which permits you to switch from rear to four-wheel-drive at anything up to 44 mph.

Its targets include the Discovery, the Frontera and the Maverick, and it is priced to compete. The entry-level model is a few pence short of £16,000, and the GSE which includes air conditioning, ABS, dashes of leather and wood and lots of electric buttons is less than £21,000.

It’s a lot of car for the money, and it’s distinctive with it, though it could become less so as UK importer International Motors expects to sell around 2000 this year.

The SsangYong Musso: it’s not as daft as it sounds.