The order book for the new Ssangyong Rexton SUV is expected to open at Fieldays in June, where the New Zealand distributors are likely to have a left-hand-drive example as a drawcard.
Staff from Taupo-based Ssangyong distributors Great Lake Motors will tell punters at Fieldays that the NZ-spec model will arrive here around October.
Like the left-hooker on show, it will be longer, wider but lower than the current model, have an internet-savvy interior, and a 2.2-litre diesel engine and seven-speed gearbox from Mercedes-Benz. The Benz link goes back many years.
On second thoughts, the German connection perhaps goes beyond the drivetrain. The picture on this page of the business end of the cabin is reminiscent of a Benz from a generation or so ago.
Ssangyong took the covers off the Rexton at the Seoul motor show. It is one of the models with which the South Korean carmaker will use to boost global growth and gain a foothold in emerging markets.
It is shooting for annual capacity of 250,000 units a year by 2022, some 60 per cent higher than its total global sales of 155,844 units last year.
In 2016 exports jumped 15 per cent to 52,000 units, with a lift in shipments to Russia and Iran and growing sales in Europe and Central and South America. The company is aiming to grow exports by 8000-10,000 vehicles this year.
It is also looking to set up operations in other countries. A joint venture in Saudi Arabia is under study along with an assembly plant in China.
Ssangyong sold 2363 vehicles in NZ last year, to be 15th on the sales ladder behind No. 14 Isuzu (2640) and No. 13 Subaru (2660).
The new Rexton sits on an all-new ladder chassis, a deliberate move as Ssangyong seeks new markets.
Said company president and CEO Johng-Sik Choi: “Most SUVs are switching to a monocoque type, not a frame type. But that’s our strategic model, to build and explore the market as a frame-based SUV.
“It may be a traditional type of SUV but we put a lot of technology into this model and its major market will be the emerging markets, Russia, China and South America, so we believe there is still a lot of demand there. And it fits in with our model of being an SUV specialist.”
The ladder chassis will also underpin Ssangyong’s replacement for the Korando pick-up truck, a one-tonner that will share much of Rexton’s front-end styling and interior.
Rexton is 4850mm long, 1920mm wide, 1800mm high, and has a 2865mm wheelbase. For comparison, NZ’s best-selling SUV, the Toyota RAV4, is 4605mm long, 1845mm wide, 1705mm high, and has a 2660mm wheelbase.
As well as stronger looking exterior lines, Rexton gets a new interior which shows a step up in quality. Expect more equipment, in line with the steps Ssangyong has taken with the Tivoli SUV.