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Different strokes

Polarising: Kyron will receive a nip and tuck around June.

SsangYong will continue with polarising designs, but plans a toned-down Kyron

SsangYong logo26 Apr 2007


SSANGYONG will not back away from its polarising vehicle designs.

That's the message that emerged from the Australian launch last week of two more controversial-looking vehicles from the South Korean car-maker in the Actyon SUV and Actyon Sports utility, with SsangYong Australia revealing that future models will continue to "challenge" consumers with unorthodox designs.

"Their forward planning still has this idea that they want to stand out from the pack and not look like everyone else in the marketplace," said SsangYong Australia sales and marketing manager Brad Larkham.

"On our last trip, (managing director) Keith (Timmins) and I saw clays (clay design models) of future models and they are still challenging the way we look at cars."Some of the most outlandish modern SsangYong designs – including the Korando 4WD and Stavic people-mover – were penned by Briton Ken Greenley, who is a former vehicle design head at London’s respected Royal College of the Arts. Mr Greenley has now retired.

28 center imageLeft: SsangYong Stavic.

While Mr Timmins admitted the design of the Stavic might prevent some potential customers taking one for a test drive, he insisted that those who drove the cars came to like them.

"If they can overcome that initial look, it is an easy sale," said Mr Timmins, who drives a Stavic as a company car.

"We have a very, very strong core of Stavic fans who are current owners, (and) quite frankly, some of the letters that we get from them are heart-warming.

"They really, really are good, particularly when you go back outside and think, ‘No, I don’t really like the look of that.’"You don’t see the mixed design of the rear quarters of the vehicle when you are sitting up the front, and all the seats are very comfortable."Mr Timmins said SsangYong had no plan to change the design of the Stavic until a scheduled freshening in 2010.

While SsangYong has resisted pressure to alter the look of the Stavic, which has been the subject of ridicule around the world, it has swiftly redesigned the Kyron SUV after criticism both in South Korea and international markets.

Arriving in Australia in June, the facelifted Kyron features mild changes to the front and rear to remove what was seen as an excess of lines.

SsangYong had previously outsourced some of its design work, such as calling on ItalDesign to shape the Rexton SUV, but developed the Actyon in-house.

SsangYong Australia claims the styling of the Actyon SUV was deemed as "attractive and appealing" by a group of people who were unaware of the car’s origins during market research.

As reported earlier this month, the company has followed a more conservative styling course with the Wz concept shown at the recent Seoul motor show – a car that appears to be a replacement for SsangYong's flagship Chairman sedan.

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