SsangYong Rexton rolls: Highway to the hillside

11 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on SsangYong Rexton rolls: Highway to the hillside

SsangYong Rexton rolls: Highway to the hillside

Hrithik Kiran Bagade and Puneeth Nagarajaiah, August 21, 2013, DH New Service#8200;

The call of rain from the dark clouds above, the blissfully cool weather and the open road in front beckons anyone to start up and drive. The conditions seem perfect to explore the areas out of the noisy, overcrowded precincts of Bangalore.

We hit upon an idea to not just drive out, but to test the behaviour and performance of one of the recent kids on the Indian auto block.

Not too long ago, in November 2012, India’ sports utility vehicle (SUV) behemoth Mahindra Mahindra (MM), a part of the $15.9 billion Mahindra Group, had unveiled the SsangYong Rexton, proclaiming it as a premium global SUV, which promised both luxury and power. It is this vehicle that we have decided to test and see what makes the Rexton so unique and special in the face of burgeoning competition.

Firstly, we shall introduce the brand. The SsangYong Motor Company is the fourth largest automobile manufacturer in South Korea and the name ‘SsangYong’ means double dragons in Korean. In February 2011, MM acquired 70 per cent of the company, which brought the Rexton to India.

Designed and developed by SsangYong in South Korea itself, this is the third generation Rexton, and the model that we are driving is the SsangYong Rexton RX7.

Massive exteriors

One of the earliest impressions after looking at the Rexton RX7 is that this car is big. Covering a length of 4755 mm, combined with a width of 1900 mm and a height of 1840 mm (with roof rails), the kind of size specifications of the Rexton RX7 ensures that you could admire the massive beast from a distance and it heralds you have arrived.

Above all, it is a powerful statement that you make when you step out of the car.

Sporting the classy chrome radiator grille to the projection headlamps, with L-shaped parking lights, configured to resemble the eyes of an eagle, the SsangYong Rexton RX7 seems to be in a league of its own. The auto headlamps and rain sensing wipers function without having to be told. Along with this, is its stainless steel beltline and chrome moulding which creates a well-balanced flow overall, apart from the stylish ORVMs with LED turn indicators and 10-spoke 16-inch alloy wheels.

The rear of the car, with the name REXTON being engraved above the bumper line and the LED tail lamps, only adds more seriousness to the vehicle.

Once seated in the RX7, the cabin makes all occupants feel at home as the seating ergonomics on the car are comfortably suited to everyone’s requirement. We shall continue describing the interiors as we drive.

We switch on the ignition and lo! The driver’s seat begins moving forward adjusting itself, in order to help the driver get the perfect driving position. The car is comprised of an 8-way driver seat adjust system, and if further adjustments are needed, the RX7 also provides electrically adjustable controls on the right-hand side of the driver’s seat.

The seat adjusted, we shift the electronic gearbox to D (drive) position and head out. The rains have just set in and the road is getting patchier with mud and dirt. But the roomy interiors make sure we are not intimidated by the vagaries of bad weather outside.

Sit inside the SsangYong Rexton RX7 and you are transported into a different world altogether.

Starting with the premium, dual-tone, beige and black interiors complemented by metal grain accents and plush leather seats, the interiors look fresh and inviting. For a driver, it is delightful to behold a steering wheel wrapped in leather with additional metal grain accents and a gear knob wrapped in leather as well. The automatic gear lever in the centre is large and easy to grab, and the modes can be dexterously shifted.

The dashboard is composed of a large 4-spoke steering wheel, which also contains conveniently placed audio system controls and switches for cruise control.

The large 6-inch touchscreen infotainment system in the centre provides for DVD, CD, MP3, USB and FM entertainment.

It also proves to be a good guide during long drives into unknown areas, thanks to its inbuilt GPS navigation system with preloaded maps.

In addition to the elegant centre console, the convenient centre armrest and the AC vents and rear cup holders give the RX7’s interiors a world-class feel.

This is coupled with Automatic Climate Control ensuring the drive is a breeze. An electric sunroof is also part of the package, which helps in making the car feel more spacious and airy.

Time to punch it

Once the car is in motion, the engine sound is down to a pin-drop within the cabin, and occupants can enjoy a noise-free drive.

We take the car on Mysore Road, and when we arrive at a distance of roughly 85 km from Bangalore, it is already way past sunset and the highway is already bustling with traffic. But the RX7’s interiors just do not seem to make us feel the chaos while on the ride. The large slanting headlights of the vehicle are powerful and help in easily manoeuvring it in darkness.

The Rexton RX7 runs on a strong 2.7-litre 2696 cc RX270 XVT powertrain, delivering an impressive 184 bhp with 402 Nm torque. We could sense the acceleration of the car especially when it whizzed past traffic and, within a short time, was way ahead of the pack of vehicles that could be seen through the rear view mirror shrinking into the distance.

The RX7 dominates the highway. Day or night, the car can just find its way through pockets of traffic and then finally emerge ahead of it in no time. As already mentioned, the engine is meshed with a 5-speed E-tronic automatic transmission, built with Mercedes-Benz Technology, which makes driving not only hasslefree but also a pleasure.

After a few hours of night driving on Mysore Road, we are convinced that the Rexton has a lot of potential as a long-distance monster, and the RX7 delivers a top speed of 194 kmph.

But once back in Bangalore, as for most big cars, we must admit that the RX7 does get caught in the din of the urban sprawl, with the constant traffic jams that are experienced here every day. It becomes a little hard for it to punt through traffic, and owing to its automatic transmission, sudden braking while at high speeds needs some deft handling and control.

Safety first

Next we plan to take the car on the steep climb of Nandi Hills, hoping to experience the RX7’s All-Wheel Drive. The engine is as seamless as ever when the Rexton begins roaring across the steep hair pin curves that are found on the hillside. With a wheel base of 2835 mm, a ground clearance of 252 mm and a turning radius of 5.7 metres, the car is easily able to maintain its grip over the road, and the few potholes and puddles that dot the landscape, and the sudden burst of rain is no match for the RX7.

It is during such drives can one determine the true essence of an SUV and the RX7 not only takes up the challenge with panache, but also safely defeats it. The car comes equipped with multiple advanced active and passive safety systems. At the heart of the Rexton RX7 is the Electronic Stability Program (ESP), which constantly monitors the movement and direction of the car and initiates remedial action as soon as it detects loss of control.

On the descent, the Hill Descent Control identifies steep inclines and engages itself to assist the vehicle down a steep slope with caution. That aside, the SUV, also has Anti-Rollover Protection, which closely monitors a range of parameters and identifies potentially dangerous driving conditions that could lead to the vehicle rolling over. Well before the situation becomes threatening, it causes the ESP system to intervene and control the vehicle speed, thereby restoring stability.

We will note here that the RX7 superbly passes all these tests while at Nandi Hills.

With all this and more, the Rexton gives a mileage of 11.18 kms per litre, with the aid of a sturdy 78-litre tank.

There are too many players today in the SUV market and almost all of them offer the same promise. But if the Rexton stands out in some way, it is for its overall package, at a competitive price. The Rexton RX7 automatic by Mahindra offers performance, road presence, comfort, space, and feel of a high-end SUV.

But as a brand, SsangYong will have to contend with competition from major players should it aim at grabbing a share of the already overflowing Indian SUV markets. For the enthusiast and first-time buyer alike, an RX7 can be had for a price of Rs. 20.10 lakh (ex-showroom Bangalore), and it is worth the drive.

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