SsangYong unleashes the Rhino
SsangYong’s new ute range goes on sale locally this week, an all-new rig with an all-new name. The latest double cab, now called Rhino, replaces the old Actyon Sport, a model that traces its roots right back to 2006, about when we awarded it our Ute of the Year gong.
SsangYong had hoped to launch the new ute range about eight months ago but supply was hard to come by, demand from other markets causing a delay Down Under. A few landed here last year but it’s only now that more supply has come along.
What about that name?
In every other market, the new ute (it’s model code is Q200 for the spotters) is either called the Actyon Sport or Musso, the latter being Korean for Rhino. No one here really liked the Musso nameplate, and the idea of changing the name locally is credited to Leigh Hart, aka That Guy, director of the creative agency used by SsangYong NZ. He suggested instead of trying to explain that Musso meant Rhino, why not simply change the name? And those that telephone into the Daily Bhuja show on Radio Hauraki were used as quasi market research, Hart asking them off air if they’d prefer to buy a ute called the Musso or Rhino, with everyone opting for the latter. And so now, all New Zealand Q200’s have Rhino emblazoned across the tailgate.
What makes the Rhino?
It’s based on the Rexton, yes a ute spun off from an SUV, not the other way around, but the chassis is stretched in the wheelbase with wishbones up front and a five-link rear end with a Panhard rod and coil springs. While it’s bigger all round compared with the old Actyon Sport, it’s still not as large as some of its main competitors. This they say was something customers liked about the old ute, but SsangYong is covering its bases and will also offer an XL Rhino that will have the longest tray in the class at 1610mm. The XL has a 120mm longer wheelbase, and there is 200mm more on the rear overhang. This model will ride on leaf springs, and the payload is just over one tonne. They expect the LWB version will wear a premium of not quite $3000 when the first of them arrives next month, with the diesel versions due midyear.
The entry-level Rhino is a rear driver powered by a 165kW/350Nm 2.0-litre turbopetrol, offered with both a six-speed manual and auto. Sport and SPR versions use the 133kW 2.2-litre diesel, the Sport manual with 400Nm, while the auto version gets 420Nm. Selectable 4x4 is also standard on these. The tow capacity is 3.5 tonnes braked, and 2.8 for the petrol. All come with a five-year/100,000km transferable warranty.
What’s it like to drive?
The diesel engine is a quiet operator, the six-speed auto smooth and there’s enough torque from the 2.2-litre to get overtaking done smartly. Petrol power also serves up a good dollop of pull, but needs a few more revs to bring the 165kW of power into play. Rhino steers well for a ute, and there’s decent control but there’s also a bit of a jiggle to the ride over the bumps, and this is more pronounced in the SPR with its 20-inch wheels.
SsangYong’s typically robust build quality is evident in the Rhino, and while there’s the usual ute hard plastics about the place, they are not the harsh and nasty variety. There’s good space in the rear, the seat back with more of a recline than the norm, though the presence of a lap belt in the centre needs sorting ASAP.
And the tie in with the Rhino Lady?
SsangYong’s new brand ambassador is Jamie Joseph, not the All Black but a woman on a mission to save the rhino. She’s the founder of Saving the Wild, an organisation determined to expose the poaching syndicates in Africa that kill rhinos for their horns. Gram for gram, rhino horn is worth more than cocaine and diamonds. She has already brought down a syndicate of corrupt magistrates and prosecutors protecting rhino poachers and other criminals, and her intelligence ring has managed to expose the ‘kingpin’ of a major poaching ring, who is on trial later in the year in South Africa. Ssangyong NZ will ship a new Rhino ute over to South Africa to help her efforts, and with every Rhino sold, SsangYong NZ will donate to the Saving the Wild effort.
And how much does it cost?
SsangYong’s advertised pricing starts at $25,990 but excludes GST. So, with the 15 per cent added, the entry-level rear-drive petrol starts at $29,888 for the six-speed manual, the auto at $34,488. The Sport Diesel adds switchable 4x4 and is $40,238 as a six-gear manual, with the auto being $42,538. Top of the range is the SPR diesel coming in at $50,013. Petrol and sport versions only get dual frontal air bags, the SPR alone with side and curtain bags. All have ESP. Sport and SPR models add an eight-inch touchscreen system incorporating a reversing camera, and get CarPlay and Android Auto. The SPR gains a 360-degree camera, dual zone air, and Nappa leather seats that are powered, heated and ventilated.