First Drive

Mahindra SsangYong Rexton review, test drive and video

The Rexton is SsangYong's first offering in India after being taken over by Mahindra. Does it pack in enough to put up a good fight?

DETAILS
4
photos

Mahindra & Mahindra’s acquisition of the Korean Ssangyong brand paved the way for the Indian car manufacturer to further strengthen its position in the SUV segment. And while last year’s launch of the well-received XUV500 marked Mahindra’s first premium SUV offering, M&M has now introduced the Ssangyong Rexton premium SUV to take things up a notch. The Rexton, in a nutshell, is a big, body-on-frame SUV that will compete with the likes of the Toyota Fortuner, Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and Ford Endeavour.

For an SUV that is both longer and wider than the already large Toyota Fortuner, the Rexton lacks the road presence that even the marginally smaller Pajero Sport has in spades. That’s down to the facelifted Rexton’s sloping bonnet, gently peeled-back headlamps and curvy grille, which lend the front a certain softness.

Despite that, however, the car manages to look a whole lot better than the model it replaces and the overall styling, especially at the front, is quite contemporary. That chrome-rich grille gives the front plenty of flash, the headlamps with their projector pods are smartly detailed, and those heavily flared wheel arches give the design much needed muscle. Further back, the wraparound rear windscreen looks quite neat and injects much flair to the tail section.

Open the Rexton’s doors and you will find that the cabin looks plush, everything appears solidly put together, and the leather seats with their soft cushioning and smart stitching are really inviting too. Panel fit is excellent and the soft-touch plastics on the dashboard-top feel like they’re from an expensive German saloon.

The Rexton also comes loaded with features like a touchscreen interface for the audio system, DVD player, Bluetooth telephony, satellite navigation, sunroof, climate control, rear parking sensors, automatic headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control and steering-mounted audio controls.

However, it’s when we move to the back that the Rexton’s cabin loses some points. For starters, the slightly low-set seats and high floor compromise the seating posture to some extent, though it’s still better than an Endeavour. The cabin also isn’t as roomy as the large exteriors lead you to believe.

As for the last row of seats, the less said the better. You sit virtually on the floor with your knees pointing towards your chin, and with no headrests for these seats, your neck is left unsupported too. If there’s some consolation, it’s that the rearmost section gets a pair of air-con vents with their own blower speed control.

The Rexton comes with a 2.7-litre, in-line five-cylinder DOHC turbo-diesel motor, with the option of five-speed manual and five-speed auto transmissions. Curiously, the engine is tuned differently for the two gearboxes, so as a manual it produces 162bhp and 34.7kgm of power and torque, respectively, while in the automatic it produces a far more substantial 184bhp and 41kgm. The automatic variant also comes with permanent all-wheel drive, and this allows the Rexton to get off to a clean start and post a quick 0-100kph time of 10.92 seconds.

However, the engine makes quite a racket, one that gets progressively louder as the revs rise. The nine-blade radiator fan is responsible for most of this. Then there’s the slow-witted automatic gearbox that takes much away from the driving experience. You can change gears manually via buttons on the steering wheel, or alternatively, a switch on the gear lever.

While the Rexton Auto’s 11.18kpl ARAI-tested figure makes it quite the diesel-guzzler, its power delivery is nice and linear, and for relaxed driving in the city or on the highway, the engine should cope well enough.

Weighing in at around two tonnes the Rexton is just as heavy as its body-on-frame contemporaries. Its suspension, which is a combination of double wishbones in the front and coil springs and a live axle at the rear, is also similar to what you’ll find on the Fortuner and Pajero Sport. Driving around Mahindra’s test track, we found the Rexton too softly sprung to derive any pleasure out of driving it with enthusiasm. However, the high-profile 235/75 R16 tyres do absorb a lot of the road shock and, in that sense, work admirably to shield you from smaller surface blemishes.

Mahindra’s new flagship, then, is a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, it’s smart looking, well-built, comes loaded with features and has a cabin that’s premium enough to give it a serious edge over its rivals. On the flipside, the noisy engine, slow auto gearbox, bumpy ride and mediocre handling all take away from its appeal. Tipping the scales back in its favour, however, is the fact that Mahindra has launched it at a killer price. At Rs 19.67 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai), the Rexton Auto is a few thousand more expensive than the Endeavour 4x2 Auto and a full Rs 2 lakh cheaper than the Fortuner Auto. The lesser-equipped manual Rexton is an even more appealing proposition, with a price of Rs 17.67 lakh, which makes it the most affordable SUV in this class, by far. At these prices, buyers are likely to gloss over the Rexton’s not-so-good aspects and think of it more as a value buy. Mahindra has successfully played on the VFM card before, so there’s no denying the Rexton’s potential to strike a chord with Indian buyers.

Watch video review here

Fact File

Price Range (in lakhs)*

Ex-showroom price Rs 17.67lakh (MT), Rs 19.67lakh (AT)

Engine

Fuel Diesel
Type 5-cylinder, 2696cc
Power 162bhp (MT), 184bhp (AT)
Torque 34.7kgm (MT), 41kgm (AT)

Transmission

Type Torque on demand/ All-wheel drive
Gearbox 5-speed manual, 5-speed auto

Dimensions

Length 4755mm
Width 1900mm
Height 1840mm
Wheel base 2835mm
Ground clearance 252mm
See more about:  ssangyong, rexton, fortuner, pajero, sport, endeavour

notSet

There’s a long list of great used cars that you can get at half the original price, and lots more drives in this July 2015 issue of Autocar India.
What's in this issue?

Most Read
Find a car review

Latest Car Reviews

Nissan Micra X-Shift review, test drive

Nissan Micra X-Shift review, test drive

5 hours ago
Nissan has added an auto 'box on the lower XL variant, along with a few...
Audi RS6 review, test drive

Audi RS6 review, test drive

4 days ago
Audi’s high-performance RS6 Avant is here. But is it strong enough to...
Maruti Suzuki S-Cross review, test drive

Maruti Suzuki S-Cross review, test drive

5 days ago
Maruti is all set to take on the Renault Duster and Hyundai Creta with this...
Chevrolet Trailblazer review, test drive

Chevrolet Trailblazer review, test drive

6 days ago
Chevrolet’s Trailblazer is a full-sized SUV that GM is bringing to...
Hyundai Creta review, test drive

Hyundai Creta review, test drive

Jun 27, 2015
Hyundai's much-anticipated mid-size SUV is here. Here's a brief impression...
Latest News
Honda announces new global plans
Honda to focus on development of challenging and unique products for its...
1 hour ago   1 picture
BMW X3 M Sport launched at Rs 59.9 lakh
BMW X3 M Sport comes with a 3.0-litre diesel motor and an M Sport kit.
3 hours ago   2 pictures
Aston Martin and Red Bull Technologies to develop new hypercar
The model will take on the Ferrari FXX K and Mclaren P1 GTR; expected to go...
3 hours ago   1 picture
Renault Talisman revealed
The Talisman will go on sale in global markets in 2016; will replace the...
4 hours ago   1 picture
Nissan Micra XL CVT, X-Shift launched at Rs 6.4 lakh
The X-Shift is a limited-edition variant; Base-trim Micra XL also launched...
6 hours ago   3 pictures

Autocar Magazine

Issue: 191 | Autocar India: July 2015

There’s a long list of great used cars that you can get at half the original price, and lots more drives in this July 2015 issue of Autocar India.
Autocar Magazine