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Car reviews - SsangYong - Actyon - 5-dr wagon range

Launch Story

SsangYong logo23 Apr 2007

By CHRIS HARRIS

SSANGYONG has introduced a compact SUV that is more at home in the country than the city.

The South Korean car-maker says the Actyon is pitched against soft-roaders like the Honda CR-V, Nissan X-Trail, Toyota RAV4 and the Ford Escape and Mazda Tribute twins, with a starting price of $29,990.

It might have a similar price to those models, but the Actyon is more of an off-road warrior than any of these suburban machines.

While its rivals use a monocoque bodies, the Actyon runs a rugged ladder frame, like workhorses including the Nissan Patrol and Toyota LandCruiser.

It also comes standard with a lockable four-wheel-drive system equipped with low-range for rock crawling.

Using a locking centre differential, this system is only for off-road work and SsangYong warns that running the Actyon in 4WD on tarmac will lead to component damage.

The Actyon can be switched from two-wheel drive to 4WD at speeds of up to 75km/h.

Those who like to travel further into the bush will appreciate the Actyon’s limited-slip rear differential. When not running in 4WD mode, the Actyon is rear-wheel drive.

It is available with both petrol and diesel engines, available with either a standard manual or optional automatic transmission.

The petrol manual starts off the range at $29,990, while a Limited petrol version costs $36,990. The diesel manual costs $33,990.

Choosing an automatic for any of these adds another $2000, but also adds cruise control.

The petrol SsangYong uses a 2.3-litre four-cylinder picked out of the Mercedes-Benz leftovers bin.

A previous-generation Benz engine that appeared here in mid-1990s C230 and E230 models, the in-line powerplant develops a modest 110kW at 5500rpm and 214Nm at 3500rpm.

Like the diesel engine, the four-cylinder petrol unit uses an engine block produced by Mercedes in South Africa.

The diesel is also based on a common-rail Mercedes engine, but has been re-engineered as a 2.0-litre and now produces 104kW at 4000rpm and 310Nm at 1800rpm.

Fuel misers will no doubt prefer the diesel option which uses 7.8L/100km with the manual or 8.5L/100km as an automatic (ADR 81/01).

There are very few rival SUVs that offer a diesel option apart from the bigger and more expensive Hyundai Santa Fe diesel ($36,990) and super-competitive Holden Captiva diesel ($34,990).

The petrol is thirstier, using 11.3L/100km with the manual and 11.9L/100km with the automatic when tested to the same standard.

To put that in perspective, the much bigger and more powerful Ford Territory automatic – often criticized for its thirst – uses 12.2L/100km.

The Nissan X-Trail automatic (123kW/230Nm) uses 9.8L/100km using ADR 81/01, while the Honda CR-V auto (125kW/218Nm) uses 10L/100km.

The five-speed manual is believed to be a revised BorgWarner gearbox, while the four-speed automatic is produced by Victorian-based Drivetrain Systems International (formerly BorgWarner, then Ion Limited).

SsangYong Australia says the four-speed self-shifter will be joined by an optional locally-made six-speed DSI automatic in early 2008.

Part of the reason the petrol Actyon has a considerable thirst is its weight - a staggering 1870kg in manual form and 1892kg as an auto.

The Ssangyong is slightly smaller than the X-Trail, but is 435kg heavier.

Compared to the new CR-V, the Actyon is 300kg heavier.

Ladder frames usually add considerable weight to a vehicle, so it is easy to see where some of the extra bulk came from.

The Actyon is built off the same basic platform as the farm-friendly Actyon Sports dual-cab ute, which replaces the Musso Sports ute.

It is slightly shorter, at 4455mm, and has minimal short front and rear overhangs, a big positive feature for off-road work, and has 202mm of ground clearance.

The Actyon uses double wishbone front suspension and a five-link solid rear axle with coil springs.

Off-road enthusiasts should note that the spare wheel that sits under the cargo floor in the boot of the Actyon is a space saver.

Towing capacity is 2300kg (as long as whatever you tow has brakes) for both the petrol and diesel models.

The base petrol and diesel Actyon come standard with anti-skid brakes and front driver and passenger airbags, while the Actyon Limited adds electronic stability control, side airbags for front passengers and hill descent control.

Electronic stability control or side airbags are not officially options for the base models, but SsangYong Australia says it could take orders on an individual basis, but won’t confirm pricing.

Standard equipment for the base petrol and diesel Actyon includes air-conditioning, electric windows and mirrors, 18-inch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, front and rear foglights and steering wheel-mounted audio controls.

Stepping up to the Limited adds electrically-adjustable heated leather seats, rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights, sunroof and folding wing mirrors.

The Actyon’s styling is bound to polarize, with a steeply raked rear hatch and front-end that incorporates several different lines.

Many of the brand’s weirder looking models, including the Stavic people-mover, were shaped by Brit Ken Greenley, but the SSangYong design team shaped the Actyon all by itself.

SsangYong Australia knows the Actyon faces some tough opposition in the compact SUV class and expects it to take between one and two per cent of the segment in 2008 with a sales tally of 450 for the rest of the year.

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