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Ssangyong returns ... again

Here soon: The Rexton four-wheel drive will go on sale from April 28.

South Korea's SUV specialist returns to Australia with a new 4WD and a new plan

5 Mar 2003

SOUTH Korean four-wheel drive specialist Ssangyong has used the Melbourne motor show to officially launch itself in Australia in its own right for the first time.

Ssangyong first appeared in Australia when the Musso wagon was sold in Mercedes-Benz dealerships from 1996.

Later in the 1990s the Musso was sold as a Daewoo but Ssangyong dropped out of the local market when Daewoo went bankrupt and it became an independent brand once more.

Ssangyong now hopes to revive its fortunes under a new national importer for the brand, Rapson Australia, which plans to sell 450 cars this year through four regional distributors.

Ssangyong will open a new dealer network when its new model, the Rexton off-road wagon, officially goes on sale on April 28, and estimates it will have 50 dealers in place by 2004.

Rexton, launched in South Korea in 2001, took pride of place on the Ssangyong stand at the Melbourne motor show and will be available in two specifications: Sport and Limited, with both variants available with either a 2.9-litre five-cylinder turbo-diesel or a 3.2-litre straight six petrol engine.

The petrol engine produces 162kW at 6100rpm and a peak torque of 312Nm at 4600rpm, while the turbo-diesel is good for 88kW at 4000rpm and 256Nm at 2250rpm.

Both engines will also be available with either manual or automatic transmissions, mated to a low range transfer case.

The four-speed auto is actually Australian-made by ION Transmission Systems (formerly BTR-Automotive), which has been supplying this gearbox to Ssangyong since 1998.

The Rexton is built on a traditional off-roader ladder-type chassis with a double wishbone front suspension and five-link rear-end.

While the entry level RX290 Sport turbo-diesel manual will be priced from $39,990, the range will extend to a fully optioned RX320 Limited automatic, priced at $60,000.

Seven seats and dual-zone air-conditioning will be available as options on all models.

Ssangyong also showcased two concept vehicles at the show. Both the Crossut and Hemos were first shown at last year's Seoul motor show and give a clue to the four-model range of "niche vehicles in the 4x4 and MPV segments" Ssangyong Australia hopes to have in place by 2005.

By the way, Ssangyong means twin dragons, which is symbolised by the double S at the start of the name.

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