Running ahead of Professor Whitty, I packed in extra miles at the lofty helm of HMS Rhino. Most were domestic duties, like moving half a tonne of greenery and clogging the council tip. Buy one of these, incidentally, and no matter how soft your hands or white your collar, you’re in with the hi-vis Transit class and no longer categorised as a standard householder, so pre-booking a slot there may be necessary.
Not that that’s so terrible: it’s great fun to climb up into the driving seat while wearing my fluorescent jacket, convincing all those lowly drivers that I might do something more essential to society than carping on about cars. The fact that I’ve been having technical issues with linking my phone to the entertainment system is neither here nor there – nah, to their minds, I’m just a geezer who only stops reading the Sun when he’s grabbing a burger at the drive-thru.
That’s no reflection on the Musso’s glossy paintwork. It’s more about the lag between what double cabs now are and broad perceptions of how they might be. Maybe because I live in the end of the Cotswolds that’s less bijou and more banjo, where a knackered Hilux adorns every corner, I sense anything sporting a flatbed is viewed as a workaday, macho motor.
So yes, you’re looking at a rufty-tufty go-anywhere machine that relishes mud, but the physical experience is just as cosseting as you’ll find in so many popular and, dare I say, premium cars. Do your wheels offer heated seats for rear passengers, have a self-toasting steering wheel and boast his-and-hers climate control and a cabin that’s suited and booted for executive comfort? Granted, your £30,000 SUV is probably going to ride with less eagerness to spill your cappuccino, but the ride in this elongated Musso is pretty good on slower roads – and excellent on the M5. I’ll stick my (red)neck out and say it’s the smoothest double cab I’ve driven to date.
The fly in this palatable ointment comes in the consumption. I have to admit I’ve spent barely metres so far actually exploring the Musso’s performance limits. For one thing, I’d question how crucial it is to know that the back end takes the lead at 70mph on a bend; for another, though, I can’t bear to see the needle sink south of 25mpg. Sadly though, it did just that this month when I found myself being driven nuts by lazy, contracted-out road diversions that sent me via Timbuktu for no reason other than they’d not bothered to remove them. SsangYong’s Rexton, given the same 2.2-litre unit, marches on seven Mercedes-Benz-sourced automatic cogs; the Rhino on six, procured from Aisin. Unless you switch to manual (and it’s a clunky operation), some of its selections can feel like they’re bursting to shift up. When I refuel, I know how they feel!
Date arrived 10th September 2020
Economy (WLTP combined) 28.2mpg
Economy (On test) 24.8mpg
Seven-foot Christmas tree? Just the one, Sir? The Rhino’s rear end could eat a forest.
iPhone links quickly; connecting for phone-fed entertainment triggers tedious Android reboot.