The year is yet so young, but already, the signs are there that 2018 will be a tremendous 12 months for the auto industry. How? Well, there’s a new SsangYong bakkie – that’s how.
It’s called the Rexton Sports and you don’t need to be a genius to deduce that it is based on the Rexton SUV platform – which also means it isn’t small. At all. This new SsangYong is a proper double-cab bakkie the size of which to rival Hilux or Ranger.
Unlike nearly all SsangYongs of yore, styling isn’t awful. The surfacing is simple, with a satisfying lack of foolish details or chrome garnish. Beyond the odd aero-shaped roll-bar mouldings, which do improve efficiency a bit, but are absolutely useless in the event of a rollover, the Rexton Spots is not a bad-looking bakkie. There is nearly no family resemblance to the original Actyon, for instance.
And because it is a SsangYong, there’s a lot of kit too. From the leaked online brochure, the initial offering will be three grades, with the best equipped Rexton Sports featuring a heated steering wheel, keyless go, 9.2-inch touchscreen infotainment, surround view camera, Nappa leather seats and all of this rolling on 18-inch alloy wheels. Nice.
We imagine that most ardent South African bakkie customers will dismiss any new SsangYong bakkie out of hand, but if you pay attention to the specification, this is more than a rival for Hilux or Ranger. How? Well, like any double-cab bakkie, Rexton Sports rides on a ladder frame chassis, but, because that chassis has been inherited from the Rexton SUV, it features a multi-link rear suspension configuration – which is notably better for ride quality and tracking stability to anything Toyota, Ford, Mazda, Isuzu or Mitsubishi have on offer.
Beyond the pseudo-SUV suspension set-up, Rexton Sports is powered by a choice of two engines either a 135kW 2.2-litre turbodiesel, or 150kW, 2-litre turbopetrol. Four-wheel drive is optional, with a lockable centre differential. If pricing is keen, this could be the outlier double-cab bakkie for buyers seeking unrecognised value.