SsangYong’s range topper, the Rexton G4, has a new entry point model called the Team Mate. It’s a bit of a stripper but it’s also a full-size seven-seater SUV for under $40k. Moreover, it’s a rear-driver with a 2.0-litre turbopetrol and a recent Fieldays promotion saw SsangYong NZ offering a tempting upgrade deal; for an extra $2k you could bag the petrol sport model, usually $47,990.
That’s the model we have here and at full retail it’s $12k less than the equivalent diesel 4×4 Sport. It makes for serious consideration, especially amongst urbanites wanting a big people mover rather than a 4×4 tow rig. And while the petrol has a lesser haul rating, it’s still a respectable 2700kg.
The 2.0 petrol Sport carries the same spec as the 2.2 diesel version, the difference being the powertrain. It uses a 165kW/350Nm turbopetrol with an Aisin six-speed auto sending drive to the rear wheels alone. By contrast, the 133kW/420Nm diesel uses a seven-speed box with a transfer case to add drive to the front when required. The diesel is rated at 8.3L/100km on average, the petrol at 10.4.
Opting for the Sport means you miss out on a few of the niceties of the $67,990 SPR, like all of the active safety features but you’ll still net nine air bags, ESP and a reversing camera with sensors front and rear. You have to lift the tailgate yourself, no biggie, though you’ll miss the convenience of a proximity key and, during the coldest months of the year, the seat heaters. The cruise is conventional and the lights and wipers you activate yourself but the infotainment system features CarPlay and Android Auto.
The trim has the look of leather but is in fact man made. Yet it doesn’t feel it, while manual seat adjustment isn’t that big of a deal either. The build and finish are impressive for the price and this example, with over 10,000km on the clock, still looked brand new and was squeak free. From the outside, no one will know as the SPR and Sport share the same look.
A big, full chassis seven-seater isn’t usually the best round-town rig, though the rear-drive G4 proved more than manageable, even likeable. Yes, you can detect those body-on-frame underpinnings in the way it rides with a few jiggles that just aren’t present in a unibody crossover, yet the progress is far from truck-like. It’s quiet too, both tyre and wind roar minimal, and the engine is subdued below 3000rpm. The steering is light, and though there are a few rotations between the locks, the turning circle is handy for something of this size, so parking and U-turns are hardly arduous affairs.
The 2.0-litre turbo serves up a good dollop of torque to get things progressing without the need to pile on the revs. Only when in a rush to bridge that gap might you detect any pause in delivery from idle. But things are cooking by 1500rpm and from 2000 through to 5000rpm, this feels strong considering the G4’s size and the engine’s capacity. The petrol G4 will average around the 12L/100km mark for a mix of urban and motorway type commuting, though will creep up in to the 14L/100km region in stop/start traffic.
The six-speed auto is tuned more for refinement so the swaps are of the slushy variety, but it’ll kick down smartly when asked and isn’t so intent on chasing tall gears in a bid for economy. There are Eco and Sport modes for the trans but there’s not much difference between them and it goes fine in Eco in town anyhow.
Out of the city limits, push the lever across the old wiggly gate and it’ll kick down when you bury the throttle and hold gears a bit longer, though the little manual toggle switch is rather ineffectual. The G4 gets along in a handy fashion for this sort of SUV. While it does weigh in at just over 2000kg, it doesn’t feel overly burdened or cumbersome.
Yeah, it generates a decent lean angle, and it’ll understeer eventually but the rear is stable with no hint of roll oversteer and it doesn’t shimmy and buck across the bumps. The steering may be light on feel but is responsive though can snag on bumps mid-corner, which is about the only real issue with the way it handles itself driven in a fashion most owners wouldn’t. It would make a good distance machine with comfortable seats and there’s enough power when the pedal is prodded by a size 11 to actually overtake comfortably.
Plus it delivers full-size SUV versatility with plenty of back seat space, both in terms of leg room and width, and the seat split folds and tumbles forward easily enough, although putting it back in place is a two-hand job. In the third row, there’s just enough space for adults while there’s some left over space for luggage with all the seats in use. This is a lot of SUV for the money, especially at the $42k special offer mark.
|Model||SsangYong Rexton G4 2.0 Sport|
|Engine||1998cc, IL4, T/DI, 165kW/350Nm|
|Drivetrain||6-speed auto, rear-wheel drive|