Review Ssangyong Kyron Range New car

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Review of the new Ssangyong Kyron Range

 

KY ME A RIVER

SSANGYONG KYRON RANGE

(6.8 out of 10)

REVIEW DATE: 13 02 2008

SsangYong hope their Kyron will make a splash in the compact 4×4 market. It’s a tough Task, as Andy Enright reports

SSANGYONG KYRON RANGE NEW CAR ROAD TEST

As many manufacturers have found, stretching your brand too far up or downmarket can often have catastrophic consequences. Management textbooks espouse the need to stick with what you know best. SsangYong have developed a reputation for offering large but inexpensive 4x4s, often with unconventional styling.

Extending their corporate expertise into the compact 4×4 market seems only logical, but their first crack at this sector, the Kyron, finds itself in probably the most cut-throat arena of all.

As any motoring expert will tell you, small 4x4s and MPV style vehicles are hot tickets in terms of sales and all of the big fish have cottoned onto this fact, directing some serious research and development budget at the task of being top of the compact 4×4 pile. This is why the prospective buyer is faced with a wide range of frankly excellent cars to choose from. The big Japanese manufacturers like Nissan with their X-TRAIL, Honda with the CR-V and Toyota with the RAV4 all present stiff opposition to any manufacturer looking to establish a foothold. Land Rover and Jeep still own the upper sector of this market and Hyundai, Suzuki and Kia have pretty much mapped out the lower range.

Is there room for SsangYong?

The importers of the Kyron like to think so. SsangYong plans to export 37,000 Kyrons a year, many of them headed for Europe where the company is on track for a massive sales boost to 40,000 sales a year. With sales of the Rexton slow and the Rodius almost non-existent, the Kyron is the car that has the responsibility of keeping SsangYong’s head above water in Europe.

The company are not in the rudest of health at the moment, their Chinese owners overseeing something of a sales collapse that the Kyron must turn round. Many industry observers place the blame on the styling direction the company has taken, and although the Kyron is a far more socially acceptable shape than, say, the Rodius, it’s still not what you’d call compact 4×4-generic.

The Kyron faces an uphill task but SsangYong seem very confident of its prospects indeed

Prices start from £14,995 for the entry-level 2-wheel drive model, then there are S, EX and SPR specification 4-wheel drive variants priced from £16,995. All models feature alloy wheels, electric windows and mirrors, air-conditioning, a CD player, an alarm and ABS with ABD (Automatic Brakeforce Distribution), plus the ESP (Electronic Stability Programme) and HDC (Hill Descent Control) on plusher variants. Power for all versions comes from a 2.0-litre turbo diesel common rail unit developing 141PS and 310NM of torque from 1.800rpm. Sixty is 16.2s away from rest on the way to a top speed of 104mph (in the 4WD versions at least), so you won’t be buying this car is performance is your top priority.

It’s reasonably economical though, recording 36.7mpg on the combined cycle. There’s a decent braked towing capacity too of 2,300kg. Automatic Kyron models feature a Mercedes-Benz five-speed T-Tronic transmission which offers a manual mode with the responsiveness of a stick shift, plus two reverse gears to give better traction in ice or snow.

Designed by Ken Greenley, SsangYong Motor Company’s British creative director and former head of Automotive Design at the Royal College of Art, the Kyron is well proportioned, albeit with a couple of rather unconventional details. The rear lights take a little getting used to. Just as most manufacturers have decided that high mounted tail lights are the way forward, SsangYong seems intent on bucking this trend, the Kyron’s tail lights hanging down below the car’s belt line in a shield-shaped cluster. The front grille sits above the apex of the headlamps, giving the front end a curiously snouty look and from the side, the nose is a lot more tapered than the bluff fronts of most 4x4s. One has to admire SsangYong for refusing to follow the herd but as cars like the Fiat Multipla have shown, adventurous design doesn’t always result in big sales.

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The Kyron looks great in profile with a wedgy waistline that’s a whole lot sportier than the average block on stilts.

The cabin isn’t quite as boldly designed as the exterior and is the most obvious area where costs have been pared back. While SsangYong have shown with the Rexton that they can shoehorn in an admirable amount of standard equipment for the money, if you’re a student of fine design, the fascia of the Kyron isn’t going to get you excited. All the controls are easily comprehensible and ergonomics are decent but there needs to be a spark of flair if the Kyron is to stand out in the showroom.

A circular metallic band that surrounds the gear lever and drops down one side of the transmission tunnel is an intriguing detail and the console that slopes towards the driver is another but there needs to be less of an emphasis on grey plastics for the SsangYong to excel. The three-spoke alloy wheels also made the show car look rather dated.

Where the Kyron really scores is in terms of good old-fashioned load lugging practicality. There’s a lot more baggage space in the back than in most compact 4x4s, with a total cargo volume of 1,222 litres and volume under the luggage cover at 625 litres. Moreover, for odds and ends, SsangYong have also introduced a few practical touches more at home in a mini-MPV.

In case you were wondering, the name Kyron is derived from a combination of the Greek word Kai meaning unlimited, and the English word run. Of perhaps more immediate relevance is the inclusion of multilink rear suspension and an emphasis on safety. This is a model that offers a lot of car for your money, as you would expect from this manufacturer. Even the tape measure shows that at 4,660mm long, the Kyron offers more than the average compact 4×4. Contrast that with the latest Toyota RAV4 which is 24.5cm shorter, or a Land Rover Freelander which short changes you by 21.3cm.

In fact, the Kyron is within 7mm of something like a BMW X5 lengthwise, which explains why there’s such a generous amount of space inside.

Overall, the product looks a decent proposition, offering the sort of space most would expect from a family-sized 4×4 at compact prices. If you’re looking for a hefty slug of 4×4 real estate and don’t fancy being bankrupted by a flashy badge, the Kyron may well have something to offer.

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