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First drive: Kyron now cheaper, cleaner... classier
SsangYong softens the controversial look of its upgraded Kyron SUV after 18 months
24 Sep 2007
By PHILIP LORD
THE release of a facelifted SsangYong Kyron is the first look at the rollback by the Korean brand of its contentious new design direction.
With more conservative exterior styling plus a cleaner, Euro 4 emissions-compliant engine and sharper pricing, SsangYong expects the new model to sell 50 per cent better than its slow-selling predecessor launched just 18 months ago.
SsangYong’s designers have done their work on front and rear styling to counter criticism of the mid-sized SUV.
The excessive lines cutting a swathe across the bumper and grille and shield-shaped tail-lights vaguely reminiscent of those on a 1970s Oldsmobile Cutlass were the design features in particular that buyers had an aversion to, says Brad Larkham, SsangYong Australia’s general manager, sales and marketing.
“Kyron received a mixed reaction from the media and public alike,” says Mr Larkham. “The appearance of the Kyron probably attracted much of the comment, and not all of that was particularly positive.”
The clean-up on Kyron is more than skin-deep. The two turbo-diesel engines (a 2.0-litre 104kW/310Nm four-cylinder and a 2.7-litre 121kW/340Nm five-cylinder) have been upgraded to meet Euro 4 emissions requirements, while the unpopular 3.2-litre petrol six-cylinder has been dropped from the range.
Both diesel engines, which use a Delphi common-rail injection system and Garrett variable-vane turbocharger, have been fitted with a new exhaust gas recirculation system, now electronically controlled, to reduce NOx emissions.
An inline EGR gas to engine coolant heat exchanger and revised ECU are other changes effected to ensure emissions compliance.
The independent coil-sprung front and five-link, live-axle coil-sprung rear suspension systems have been firmed up with stiffer gas dampers following criticisms that the previous Kyron ride was too soft.
Aside from the improved front and rear appearance, the tailgate glass is slightly larger, the 18-inch alloy wheels are a new design and a roof antenna has replaced the in-glass antenna.
Rear parking sensors now have an additional sensor fitted, overcoming issues with towbar fitment the previous model’s three-sensor unit had.
The interior has been treated to new instrument gauges with improved backlighting, a new steering wheel (with shift buttons in the five-speed auto versions) and the trim is now all black in place of the previous model’s grey seat facings.
Sunvisors now have vanity mirrors with lighting. No trip computer or driver’s footrest is offered.
Price has also changed with the revised model - down $1500 on the M200 XDi models and $2000 on the M270 XDi. SsangYong says the healthy Aussie dollar has permitted better buy prices, which it has passed on to buyers.
The Kyron is available as an entry-level 2.0-litre M200 XDi model and a high-grade 2.7-litre M270 XDi turbo-diesel.
Both vehicles have a five-speed manual as standard with an optional five-speed manual-mode automatic. An electronically controlled, shift-on-the-fly two-speed part-time transfer case, a separate chassis with underbody protection and 206mm of ground clearance puts Kyron ahead of the soft-roaders in off-road ability.
Safety equipment for both models includes ABS brakes, dual front airbags, lap-sash seatbelts for all positions and front seatbelt pretensioners and load-limiters.
Remote central locking, power windows, powered, heated and folding exterior mirrors, front foglights, roof rails, air-conditioning, single CD player with AM/FM radio, six speakers and steering wheel mounted controls, leather-wrapped steering wheel and a leather gearknob are also standard inclusions for both models.
The M270 XDi version adds side curtain airbags for front and rear rows, plus a retractable luggage cover and cargo barrier net to the specification.
The M200 XDi has a standard limited-slip differential, while the M270 XDi has an open diff. At the launch SsangYong couldn’t explain why this upper-grade model lacked the useful traction aid, but suspected it could possibly be the lack of a limited-slip differential strong enough to handle the 2.7-litre’s torque.
Cruise control is not available for the manual models, but is fitted as standard on automatic-transmission versions.
SsangYong has built up a list of genuine accessories for Kyron, the highlights of which include a nudge bar, 2300kg-capacity towbar, leather seat trim, integrated Bluetooth hands-free phone kit and roof racks.
SsangYong sees the new, cleaner-cut Kyron competing with Kia's Sorento and Sportage models, and Hyundai's Santa Fe.
The Kyron will be “A car for a growing family, that haven’t lost the desire for something different. They understand value for money,” says Larkham.
Kyron’s participation in one of the automotive market’s busiest segments, the medium SUV segment, has been relatively quiet.
From its introduction in March 2006 to the end of year, 356 units were sold this year, to the end of August, 230 sales were achieved, for a total of 586 over 18 months. Kyron this year holds a slim 0.5 percent share of the medium SUV market.
Forward projections are for 600 to 700 units per annum, or 50 to 60 per month.
According to Larkham, “We’re not going to set the SUV market on fire, but for us, that’s adequate.”
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