Let’s face it; the curious styling doesn’t do SsangYong’s Actyon Tradie ute many favours
Still, more important than the looks and the name to the rural / trade sectors though is how it performs as a tool relative to the financial outlay, which in the Tradie’s case is an attractive $31,990.
Believe SsangYong New Zealand’s charismatic former MD in 2006, when the Actyon ute first hit our shores, and SsyangYong was destined to be tour-de-force by 2010. Brilliant technology derived through the tech share agreement with Mercedes-Benz was said to deliver Merc’s seven-speed transmission and their latest diesel technology, while the consistently striking Korean workers would all be asked politely to tow the corporate line.
Nice vision, but much of these promises have yet to come to fruition. Transmissions remain much the same (in this case it’s a five-speed manual), the worker’s are still prone to dropping tools with regularity, and 2010 upgrades for the Tradie’s 2.0 litre diesel engine seems focussed around the introduction of a variable geometry turbocharger and not a lot else. Sure it’s a welcome addition, but not one that separates it from class competitors, almost every new diesel ute incorporates variable turbo technology these days, and has for some time.
On the bright-side, it is oddly fun to drive. I say oddly, as it’s still undeniably flawed, with just 104kW from the 2.0 diesel mill and 310Nm of torque, performance is more sapling-yanking rather than stump-pulling. The engine runs out of puff prematurely - I drove it during torrential rain and where I’d usually be very tentative in such slippery conditions, the Actyon mustered barely enough grunt to excite the rear end on bends, even then only with provocation. It’s also not the quietest power unit going, the composure might be a benefit, but really it’s all racket and no balls.
That said, both ride and handling ability impresses with a compliant suspension arrangement that eliminates bumps when you’re taking the gravel line on a country road and still offers good feedback to the driver. Presumably that smaller engine and less weight over the front axle can be attributed to some of the Actyon’s nimbleness, but what seems a pretty supple rear end too. Great for spirited cornering, but chuck a decent payload in the back and it could be an all together different story, there’s a reason competitor utes shake your fillings when they’re unladen, it’s cause they’re designed to cope with weighty cargo. The Actyon isn’t.
The axle loading capacities are lower than the usual suspects and the 1275mm (L) tray also comes up shy, a saving grace though being the cargo area’s width, measuring 1610mm across, it’s impressively generous.
Traditionally, not such an issue for a farm hack, but there’s a few safety items missing here. Forget stability control, ABS brakes are a cost option, there’s a groin garrotting lap-only centre rear seatbelt and only two airbags (dual front). To be fair, SsangYong isn’t the only ute distributor to overlook these items at this end of the market, but safety needs to be a consideration if you use the vehicle on public roads at highway speed.
Can’t deny it’s priced fairly, but with Nissan introducing a new cut-price RX Navara model which is similarly low-spec’d but adds a bit more grunt, a bigger tray, and ABS brakes, and most likely improved resale pricing, you’re probably best to stick with what you know.
See the Ssangyong Actyon for sale.
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