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It’s diesel or dust for SsangYong

Beaut ute: SsangYong Sports dual-cab gains an Aussie-built six-speed auto.

SsangYong goes all diesel as Kyron, Rexton and Sports ute deliver even more value

22 Feb 2008

A REVISED Kyron, the Series II Rexton and an overhauled Sports dual-cab ute, in which an Australian-built six-speed automatic transmission makes its world debut, will spearhead an even better-value model line-up from SsangYong, which last week became Australia’s first all-diesel vehicle brand.

At the same time, a new distribution deal for the utilitarian Korean brand will see the revised range sold in Australia and New Zealand by SsangYong Motor Australasia – a new alliance between existing distributor Russell Burling and Western Australian automotive company, The Barbagallo Group.

SMA will continue to operate from its Mascot headquarters in Sydney, with Mr Burling moving from NZ to assume day-to-day control as managing director, while Vince Barbagallo joins the company as director.

Mr Burling says The Barbagallo Group, which has been the WA distributor for SsangYong for the past four years as well as a retailer of a range of vehicle brands for more than 35 years, will help take SsangYong to new levels in Australia via a new focus on safety and eco-friendliness.

“Our new alliance with The Barbagallo Group gives the company a truly national approach as well as tremendous knowledge and expertise in the retail sector,” said Mr Burling. “It will give SsangYong the resources to build the brand across the country.

 center imageLeft: Kyron, Stavic and Rexton.



“We have identified our strengths and our intention is to pursue steady growth in the diesel market with the goal of capturing a four percent slice of this growing sector. We believe we can also easily capture around 30 per cent of the diesel MPV market as buyers seek more economical ways of safely and efficiently transporting their families,” he said.

As part of the model realignment, all 2008 models will be powered by a Euro IV emissions-compliant turbodiesel engine and each model also features more safety and luxury equipment as part of a new strategy to target European levels of safety and performance by Chinese parent company Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC).

SAIC has undertaken a major global model expansion plan that has resulted in an increased focus on R&D and technology in both SsangYong’s traditional SUV and people-mover niches, as well as passenger cars. China’s big SAIC group has earmarked SsangYong as its premium vehicle brand to target mid to upper levels of the new vehicle market.

Part of SsangYong’s upmaket product offensive are the most highly-specified models it has ever offered, with the new flagship SPR variant now available across its six-model line-up and featuring leather trim, climate-control air-conditioning, powered slide/tilt sunroofs, powered and heated seats, rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming mirrors and automatic headlights.

Mr Burling said the key plank in SsangYong’s new sales strategy will be diesel power, which he believes will reach European levels within five years. He said that more than 70 per cent of new SUVs sold in Australia will be diesel powered by 2012. The number of diesel powered vehicles sold in Australia in 2007 increased by almost 60 percent compared with 2006.

“I believe Australians will embrace diesel technology and that the penetration of clean green diesel power will be at a similar level to Europe within a few years,” said Mr Burling.

“Clearly it has been very attractive in Europe because of the tax incentives offered there, however, despite the lack of diesel incentives offered by the Australian government the word is spreading that this is the way to go if you want to drive an SUV and maintain a green profile.

“I cannot see the Australian government offering tax breaks for diesel in the near future but I still believe more people will choose turbodiesel power here in the coming years and that is why we have made the decision to lead the market with a full switch to 100 per cent pure diesel power.

“The reality is that an SUV powered by diesel offers better driveability, fuel economy and range as well as being environmentally friendly,” he said.

“Local manufacturers are clamouring to get diesel engines in their large cars and SUVs as they have clearly seen the demand building. I foresee that if you don’t have a diesel engine in five years time you will struggle in the Australian market.

“The fact that Le Mans is now dominated by turbodiesel race cars is an indicator of where things are headed and I am pleased SsangYong can take a leading role in diesel engine technology here in Australia,” said Mr Burling.

Spearheading the changes to SsangYong’s volume-selling Sports dual-cab utility (the Actyon name now applies only to the SUV wagon) is the world-first fitment of a new six-speed automatic transmission designed and developed by Albury-based company Drivetrain Systems International (formerly BTR), which employs more than 500 staff and also has an engineering design centre at Springvale in Victoria.

Apart from making the Sports the only ute on the market with a six-speed auto, the DSI self-shifter is claimed to be the lightest in its class, has a torque capacity of 400Nm, comes with “Thumbs Up” steering wheel-mounted gearshift controls, features a “winter mode” second-gear take-off function and is claimed to provide the previously manual-only Sports ute with improved flexibility and economy.

The new auto is available in the Sports dual-cab 4x2 for $31,990 and in the 4x4 for $34,990, but manual starting prices of $28,990 (4x2) and $31,990 (4x4) are claimed to make the Sports Australia’s least expensive diesel dual-cab ute.

Despite the $1000 base price reduction, SsangYong’s Sports ute gains four-wheel disc brakes with four-channel ABS as standard across the range. Other standard features include remote central locking, a protective tub liner, an alarm system and coil rear springs.

A new SPR flagship now tops the revised Sports range and features “maximum equipment levels” for $39,990, including the six-speed auto as standard.

All Sports dual-cab utes are powered by a 2.0-litre common-rail XDi turbo-diesel, offering 104kW at 4000rpm and 310Nm of torque from 1800rpm. Compared with previous Euro III engines, the new Euro IV diesel emits 98 per cent less particulate matter or soot and 33 per cent lower nitrous oxide (NOx) levels.

SsangYong has also released an upgraded version of its flagship SUV, with the so-called Rexton II gaining Euro IV-spec 2.7-litre common-rail direct-injection turbo-diesel engines.

The revised XDi 270 diesel engine in the Rexton II RX270 ($35,990 – down $4000 from $39,990) features a third-generation turbocharger to offer a best-in-class 121kW of power, while the top-spec Rexton II RX270 SPR (which replaces the Limited at the same $49,990) engine features a variable-geometry turbocharger to deliver 137kW/402Nm and average fuel consumption of 9.1L/100km.

Both mid-size Rexton variants come with SsangYong’s Mercedes-sourced T-Tronic five-speed automatic transmission, with “Thumbs Up” manual shifting as standard on SPR and as an option on the standard version.

As with all 2008 SsangYong SUVs, ESP stability/traction control, ABS, brake-force assist (BAS), anti-rollover protection (ARP) and twin front and twin front side airbags all come standard in the revised Rexton. SsangYong says a similarly equipped SUV from rival brands would cost up to $20,000 more than the Rexton II, making it one of the best-value SUVs available.

The top-shelf Rexton II SPR, which comes with a full-time 4WD system rather than the standard Rexton’s “Torque on Demand” part-time AWD system, also features climate-control air-conditioning, reverse parking sensors, automatic rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, leather trim, heated front seats, an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with three-position memory, an electric sunroof and a sports bodykit.

Subtle grille, bonnet, headlight and trim changes aim to differentiate the upgraded Rexton II, which continues to be based on a rigid triple-layer ladder chassis.

Relaunched for 2008 with more equipment and lower pricing compared to the new-look Euro IV Kyron launched in August 2007, all new Kyron models will come with ESP stability control, hill descent control (HDC) anti-rollover protection (ARP), anti-lock brakes (ABS), a brake-force assist system (BAS), twin front and twin front side airbags, and 18-inch alloy wheels.

Two diesel engines are on offer in the revised version of the full-chassis Kyron: the XDi 2.0 delivering 104kW at 4000rpm and 310Nm at 1800rpm, or the XDi 2.7 generating 121kW at 4000rpm and 340Nm at 1800rpm. Both versions will come with an “on the fly” 4WD system plus rear parking sensors, while cruise control will be fitted as standard to automatic versions. A five-speed T-Tronic auto will be standard on the SPR.

The 2.0-litre manual opens Kyron pricing at $32,990, with the auto adding $3000 ($35,990) and the range-topping auto-only Kyron 2.7 costing $39,990.

The seven-seater Stavic people-mover, SsangYong's only monocoque-chassis model and claimed to be the only rear-drive diesel in its class, also receives ESP stability/traction control for 2008, as well as alloy wheels, cruise control and climate-control - for the same $32,990 base price.

The flagship Stavic SPR AWD gains a sunroof and Benz-sourced five-speed auto, and is priced at $39,990.

Finally, due for replacement next year is the Actyon SUV, which SsangYong describes as the cheapest diesel SUV available in Australia. Its 2.3-litre petrol starting price of $29,990 now buys a 2.0-litre Euro IV-compliant diesel engine.

While the DSI auto is expected to filter down to other models from SsangYong, the Australia's transmission maer's largest client, hot-weather testing of the brand's long-wheelbase Chairman limousine has ended in the Australian Outback.

Right-hand drive production is yet to be confirmed for the SsangYong flagship, which is motivated by a Mercedes-sourced 5.0-litre V8 and seven-speed auto powertrain.

Mr Burling said the first small passenger cars to emerge from SsangYong under Chinese ownership would not appear before 2010.

SsangYong’s three-year/100,000km warranty continues to be available through the brand’s 63 dealers nationally, a figure that will expand to beyond 80 in the coming months.

SsangYong sold 2123 vehicles in Australia last year, accounting for a 0.2 per cetn market share, which Mr Burling described as disappointing. SsangYong hopes to sell 3500 vehicles in 2008, increasing its share to 0.3 per cent.

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