Ssangyong Actyon RActyon Man-ia! Ready, Set - Actyon!

Ssangyong Actyon RActyon Man-ia! Ready, Set - Actyon!

OneShift Editorial Team
OneShift Editorial Team
07 Nov 2006

Almost everyone dreams of escaping the humdrum reality of day-to-day living, and the SUV fulfills this fantasy. In recent years however, actual off-roading ability has become less important, and its only the appearance of looking rugged that matters. As a result some SUVs don’t even have 4-wheel drive, but sell on looks alone.

Well, Ssangyong isn’t taking this onslaught of ‘soft-roaders’ sitting down, and has taken action with its new Actyon. This Korean company, which specialises in tough and rugged SUVs like the Rexton and the Musso, is taking on all these light 4x4s with a ‘compact’ vehicle of its own. The Actyon is shorter - in height (- 25mm), length (- 265mm) and wheelbase (- 80mm) – than the Rexton, and is powered by Ssangyong’s smallest engine, a 150bhp 2.3-litre in-line 4. It is in many ways a coupé, which means ‘cut’ in French, as it appears to be a cut version of a larger Ssangyong SUV.

This is quite different from the way most ‘soft-roaders’ are developed, since these are sometimes little more than ‘padded up’ conventional sedans. This top-down approach really makes the Actyon stand out. It is like all the macho ruggedness of a full-sized Ssangyong distilled down into a more compact and concentrated form.

This is definitely how the Actyon feels from the driver’s seat – one sits high of course, but as the there is less bodywork, and it slopes away quickly, the vehicle feels lean and taut. Also, as the chassis is shorter, but retains its width and wide track, the Actyon feels like a lightweight wrestler standing hands akimbo – extremely steady and unshakeable.

On the move, the Mercedes-Benz engineered 2.3-litre 16-valver seems much more lively and less stressed than it was in the Rexton. It is remarkably smooth, and it works well with the 4-speed automatic transmission. It isn’t a high-revving engine though, but is instead relaxed and refined, hardly protesting even when pushed. What is impressive is that the Actyon is able to maintain a comfortable highway cruising speed with the engine speed often under 2000rpm. Compared to the Rexton, the Actyon’s steering feels more direct and communicative, especially in town.

Looks-wise, the Actyon has a certain machismo that eludes other SUVs. It is not always handsome, especially from the front, but has the posture of an athlete that is confident, and knows it. The over hangs are short, the tyres look over-sized, and fast-back styling is aggressive. It looks good and is generally well-proportioned, so much so that it is only when parked next to another car that one realizes the Actyon height and size.

It is the Actyon’s front end styling that most people will feel uncomfortable with. It is definitely IN-YOUR-FACE in its boldness and aggressiveness. Its like a teenager that grew up ‘on the street’ rather than a comfortable suburb, and has an ‘attitude’ that is uncomfortably confrontational. He isn’t a sweet-faced pretty boy, but has perhaps been involved in a couple of scrapes that have left their mark. It’s a face that’s aggressive and mismatched, but also unmistakable.

On the inside, the driving position is commanding, and the fit and finish is impressive. It is also surprisingly well-endowed with a long list of standard equipment – things like powered controls for the driver’s seat, a glass sunroof, cruise control, lights and wipers that come on automatically all come as standard. The cabin is spacious for a five-seater.

It is the Actyon’s ladder chassis and body-on-frame construction that gives it its rugged feel and confidence, but it also means its rear deck and load area are quite high. This means, that with the tonneau cover pulled, the actual amount of luggage space does not seem very large, but as the rear seats fold down easily, the Actyon is always ready for action. Hauling a bike or two, or sports equipment for the weekend should be no problem.

The Actyon may not suit everyone – some will be put off by its aggressive looks, especially from the front. On the other hand, it is well-equipped and looks ready to rumble. It’s got character, but unfortunately not everyone one will appreciate it - its your loss if all you want is something suburban and unadventurous.

Credits: Justin Lee

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