My Musso arrived just before the leaves began to fall; all going well, it will be on hand to perform all manner of heroic duties until we’re heading into spring. But this is no standard model – this is the new 310mm longer flagship Rhino. Seeing as Musso means ‘Rhino’ already, the marketing department may be over-egging its nomenclature, but like New York, it may turn out to be so wonderful that naming it twice makes sense. After all, ‘Rhino’ specification comes only with this all-new, longer version – so long, it becomes the UK’s lankiest buy.
Boasting about size can be perilous though. Bladerunner’s director’s cut was pure joy; ditto the Lord of the Rings 12-hour elfathon. But then there’s the Mars Duo. Along with XXL Pringles, you can bite off more than is realistically chewable. But with just over a school ruler of extra workspace, this really is the Musso Epic. In fact, for anyone under five foot four, it’s not a truck, it’s an AirBnB. For first impressions, how does it measure up?
Very differently to my initiation with its blood-brother previously driven here, the Rexton. The latter was an SUV I learned to love. It was like one of those road movies where the two protagonists seem ill-suited – me liking easy parking, ride quality and some cash that I didn’t have to give to Esso.
The Rhino (let’s save ink) gets off to a smoother start. It’s not that the ride is significantly calmer, but I suspect we’re all calibrated to accept less velvet at the helm of a huge truck than we might in an SUV. Indeed, it’s the same Rexton body-on-frame design, with full-fat 4×4 set up but, even when bereft of a load to dampen things down, the ride is carishly compliant, certainly as good as any pick-up I’ve trialled to date.
Did I mention size? You’ll berth this mother in the local Tesco car park with all the anonymity of a ten-year-old crashing a toddler party. I recommend a corner with some adjacent undeveloped urban land for the purposes of protecting that cantilevered overhang, lest you return to find it remodelled to a standard size. Beyond that, there’s nothing to see here: the Rhino’s a piece of proverbial to manoeuvre, comes with a fabulous HD-definition reversing camera, even has anti-sideswipe technology at the back and, best of all, has a driving position which nudges electrically for optimum positioning. Okay, you might be driving like you’re Sigourney Weaver fighting aliens in a robosuit, but the power and the glory are no less enjoyable.
Power itself is a midfield-ish 178bhp, coming from the same 2.2-litre engine found in the Rexton. At 2,260kgs, this automatic gearbox-driven model weighs 105kgs more than a standard-length Musso but, as far as I’ve yet explored without scaring the kids or trashing the mpg, it’s not lacking in grunt. Handling, too, is civilised – an issue that takes on a crucial edge when you’ve loaded a huge mantel mirror in the back and promised your wife this is a safe way to transport it. Other jobs so far include disposing of half a tree, being crew support for a four-man bike ride, letting the kids ride loose in the tail (off-road only, of course) and generally making muggle SUV drivers at the local tip suspect their lives are incomplete.
To be fair, they probably are. An honest pick-up, after all, claims the footprint of a large SUV, but actually offers space you can seriously use – with ease. As an epic road movie, I therefore see this as a boring start: man gets into Musso, does stuff, drives home. But like any director’s cut, it may be early days.
Date arrived 10th September 2020
Economy (WLTP combined) 28.2mpg
Economy (On test) 27.5mpg