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Paris show: SsangYong’s new flagship

LIV it up: SsangYong says its LIV-2 concept embodies the concept of ‘dignified motion’ which is “inspired by the magnificence of nature”. This is code for a “tough, masculine SUV look with dynamic and voluminous styling”.

SsangYong LIV-2 previews new Rexton but Australian launch hinges on pricing, spec


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30 Sep 2016

SSANGYONG used the Paris motor show this week to uncover its production-oriented LIV-2 SUV concept that is set to hit overseas markets with minimal change as the new-generation Rexton in 2017 – but which is still to be confirmed for Australia.

As seen with the Tivoli compact SUV, the South Korean car-maker is renewing its range with appealing all-new or redesigned models, however independent importer Ateco Automotive has been at loggerheads with the factory over issues such as pricing and specification, which in turn has kept the Tivoli out of local showrooms.

This means there is no guarantee the upmarket new Rexton will come to Australia in an environment where the current model – and the brand overall – are struggling to maintain relevance.

A spokesperson told GoAuto today: “Clearly the LIV-2 is a very promising indication for SsangYong’s future plans, however these must include competitive pricing and specification to enable a production car to succeed in this highly competitive market and until we see that information it is not possible to say what role this prospective model would play in Australia.”

A brand that was selling more than 2600 vehicles a year back in the mid-2000s, SsangYong managed only 1000 units in 2015 and this year has fallen a further 59.3 per cent to the end of August with only 308 new registrations in the bank – 36 of which have gone the way of Rexton.

In 2005, SsangYong sold 911 Rextons. Last year, the total was 97. This year, it might not make 50.

In Paris, SsangYong held the LIV-2 aloft as a large premium SUV that heralds “a new design language and future product development strategy for the brand”.

Although not mentioning the Rexton by name, the car-maker has confirmed the LIV-2 – an acronym for Limitless Interface Vehicle and an extension of the LIV-1 concept shown in Seoul in 2013 – represents the brand’s next-generation flagship model that will enter production in 2017.

It continues with a traditional, rugged body-on-frame construction which could provide it with an advantage in off-road situations but also count against it in areas such of on-road refinement. This remains to be seen, but SsangYong has nonetheless used the concept’s unveiling to highlight its “strong and durable” construction, “specialist four-wheel-drive system” and unique all-terrain tyres.

The LIV-2 rests on a 2865mm wheelbase and measures 4850mm long, 1960mm wide and 1800mm high. The current Rexton has a shorter wheelbase (2835mm) and is slightly smaller all-round, particularly in the areas of length (4755mm) and width (1900mm).

The headline act in the powertrain department is a Euro 6-compliant 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel engine with a 2000-bar common-rail direct-injection system and fifth-generation electronic variable geometry turbocharger (E-VGT). It delivers 133kW of power and 420Nm of torque from 1500-2500rpm, driving through a Mercedes-Benz-sourced seven-speed automatic transmission.

A newly developed 2.0-litre GDi turbo-petrol engine has also surfaced, producing 165kW and 350Nm.

The current Australian-spec Rexton uses a Euro 5 115kW/360Nm 2.0-litre diesel paired with a Mercedes-sourced five-speed automatic.

Further advances with the new-generation model can be seen with the higher levels of safety equipment on-board, including nine airbags and an advanced emergency braking system (AEBS) which includes pedestrian detection.

Lane-departure warning, lane change assist, blind spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert and automatic high beam assistance have all been developed for the coming production vehicle.

Other notable features on the LIV-2 include electric side steps, ‘follow-me-home’ lighting for passengers when approaching/leaving the vehicle and, inside, a luxurious cabin with the feel of an “executive lounge”.

SsangYong demonstrates the latter with reference to its high-grade leather upholstery, piano-black gloss accent panels, adjustable mood lighting, individual rear seats (with a massage function), fully connected rear centre console and an integrated communication system with three displays – a 9.2-inch monitor in the centre fascia and a 10.1-inch monitor in each rear headrest.

This degree of specification might not make it on to the production model, but there is no doubt about the repositioning of SsangYong’s new-generation large SUV as a vehicle with higher aspirations and a premium outlook.

This looks certain to have a bearing on the business case for Australia, where the Rexton – with seven seats, diesel engine, automatic transmission, four-wheel drive and a fair amount of equipment – is advertised for $37,990 driveaway.

But is anybody taking notice?

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