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Car reviews - SsangYong - Sports Dual Cab - utility

Our Opinion

We like
Car-like interior presentation, room and comfort, value
Room for improvement
Ride quality inconsistent, payload, off-road ability

28 Apr 2008

THE SsangYong Sports Dual Cab ute is an interesting vehicle in the one-tonne dual-cab market, especially since recreational buyers are looking for more car-like features. The SsangYong dual-cab ute has loads of them.

The cabin is not your typical tradie’s hose-out plastic interior at all - it’s more like a car or SUV wagon (which is not too surprising, given that the Sports is heavily based on the Actyon wagon).

There are easily-read instruments and a clear control layout on the dash (although the headlight and wiper wands do seem a little fiddly) and the cabin provides plenty of room front and rear and many car-like features.

The seats first appear firm but are comfortable and supportive, all of which makes them ideal for long stints behind the wheel. The rear seat is a little flat and unsupportive, but has enough room and comfort for occasional three-adult occupancy.

Its tray is among the shortest in the one-tonne dual-cab ute class, but the Sports has a class-average tray width and one of the deepest trays in the category.

However, payload is just 830kg - which admittedly for many recreational buyers is neither here nor there - but tradies will suffer the lack of load capacity.

The 2300kg towing capacity is quite good, and realistically you would not want to lug any more with the 2.0-litre diesel, even if you could.

The Sports’ 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine is generally quiet and does not have any great surges or turbo-lag problems. It also doesn’t have a great deal of power or torque when compared with the best in class. Only the Mahindra ute shadows it for performance.

The new six-speed automatic felt like it could perhaps do with closer ratio spacing in the lower gears but otherwise gave a strong workmanlike approach to gearshifts.

The sports shift modes seem all too tricky for a low-power diesel ute, and so it is almost not worth mentioning that the manual mode does not allow the driver to hold gears beyond 4000rpm - it will change up anyway at this point of peak power, 500rpm before redline.

The Sports is like many others in the SsangYong range, in that the suspension is underdone. It is such a shame, given the Rexton II SPR is not bad in its suspension calibration.

In the Sports’ case, you will find it hard to complain about at middling speeds, where it has a soft, compliant ride over most bumps. At opposite ends of the spectrum, it is not so good.

When driving at low speeds, the Sports fidgets and body-flexes over bumps, and when high-speed touring the suspension feels too soft and just lacks enough wheel control on potholed or corrugated roads.

Having said that, the steering feel is quite good for a ute, and the Sports will take being thrown around very well, tracking true even if it likes a bit of bodyroll and is an inveterate understeerer when pushed.

The Sports looks promising in some respects for off-roading, with very good line of sight over the bonnet for picking one’s way on a narrow, rutted track.

While we were not able to test the new transmission in low-range, from experience in the previous four-speed automatic version the Sports absorbs bumps on bumpy tracks well.

The air-intake is not positioned ideally for water crossings and the Sport’s 18-inch tyres will not be available at every country tyre shop should you require a replacement.

The Sports Dual Cab offers much of the interior appointments and space of an SUV, a quiet diesel engine and is great value when you line it up against the rest of the dual-cab class.

Like most things, you don’t get something for nothing - in the SsangYong’s case, it simply lacks the performance, suspension sophistication and payload of the majority of its competitors.

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