I used to think the Exeter University chore, a 100-mile taxi run on the M5, was that and nothing more. And to be honest, I dreaded how it might tally in our new pickup. We’ve evolved in the age of Covid-19 to short, mundane journeys and the Rhino has taken to this challenge well, but with a casual interest in economy, loitering obstinately in the 25 to 28mpg zone. How would it reward me for a 200-mile day out?
Brilliantly, that’s how. At one point, a prolonged cruise in the 60 to 70mph band smashed the data into the low 40s. In all, I discovered the day was far from punitive, the final innings being an easy 38.5mpg. Yes, I got it wrong: this isn’t a 4×4 tool for driving into the green yonder, it’s an urbane intercity commute. If Our Cars were a bake off, it’s now obvious the SsangYong is the cake you can both have and heartily scoff.
Not that the bit on the back is entirely practical. Sure, it’s man enough to swallow sofas (yep, I’ve tried that yet again; blame my wife), but if I were designing pickups, I’d add a dashboard knob by which you could retexture the floor bed from slippery to super-grippy. I suggest this because the cabin’s rear seat is roomy for two, but more confined when you have to add a cat basket containing a cockerel. And because the back is too frictionless, you see, you can’t put fragile stuff in it unless you have the forethought to have brought enough other items to pack it out. Fail to do that and any loose items optimistically deposited will be ricocheted beyond recognition by the time you’re home. And what cock likes that? Straps and rope help, but ultimately, I suspect you need one of these vehicles only if you habitually shunt huge things that would otherwise either compromise your SUV interior (like a sedated horse) or simply not fit.
Having realised the Rhino’s butterfly economy on longer runs, I await the possible freedoms of post-vaccinated Britain with the eagerness of a cooped-up dog. I’ve even been patiently watching another sofa on eBay in Lancashire. And my oldest yardstick might also once more, finally, be aired: how would this machine cope on further-flung adventures? I know, call me crazy, but imagine turning a key and driving somewhere exotic like Dundee? Tiers and masks forbid it for now, but I’m confident this is the badge for the job. The ride is utterly civilised at speed, the comforts are positively executive, and the elevated views are just what the doctor ordered after a year of going nowhere.
Drawbacks? The Rhino behaves itself through meandering lanes with perfect manners; it even boasts sightlines that engenders confidence in tight squeeze situations, but it is, whether you like it or not, a ship. Execute a quick three-point turn in this and you’re either in Texas or cloud cuckoo land, the 6.1-metre turning radius feeling like an entire postcode when you missed the last navigation instruction. Jump from this, incidentally, into a shortie Musso and you’ll shave 20cm off that circle. But all said and done, I’m happily staying put. Our longest long-termer is looking great for the long haul.
Date arrived 10th September 2020
Economy (WLTP combined) 28.2mpg
Economy (On test) 37.4mpg