Long-term report: Comparing our long-wheelbase SsangYong Musso with the standard car

With the chance to pitch our pick-up next to a matching model, Ted Welford jumps at the opportunity.

Ssangyong Musso
Ssangyong Musso

In previous reports, I’ve mentioned how few other SsangYong Mussos seem to be on the roads. I can easily count the number I’ve seen on one hand.

But whether or not driving one makes you notice them more, I’ve begun to see a few others crop up locally. But you can imagine my surprise when I was contacted by a customer (my other job is working as a car valeter) looking to have their SsangYong Musso cleaned.

Now, because I’m quite sad like this, I hadn’t looked forward to having a car in to clean for some time, not least because it would be my first chance to compare ‘my’ long-wheelbase Musso with the standard model. I was even more surprised when it was dropped off for it to be in the same Indian Red paint colour.

Ssangyong Musso
The longer bed on the one truck proves slightly more useful

So, essentially the only real difference between the two models is 30cm added to the load bed – increasing roominess significantly. And parked side by side, there isn’t that much difference in the way they look, though you do notice how compact the bed of the standard version is.

Then there are the spec differences. As it seems mandatory for a pick-up to have a brutish name, the long-wheelbase Musso is known as a ‘Rhino’, meanwhile, the one I was cleaning was a ‘Saracen’ – the highest spec on offer with the standard truck.

Ssangyong Musso
The pair are near-identical when viewed from the back

But on top of the additional length, there are differences between the two. For example, the Saracen comes with larger 18-inch alloy wheels (painted black here), along with upgraded lighting comprising of LED daytime running lights that also serve as indicators. That’s a touch I think makes the Musso look as more modern, as halogens all around on ‘my’ Rhino can make it feel a little dated. This other SsangYong has also had extra chrome added onto as an option, which I reckon makes it look better, though not everyone will agree.

Aside from that, though, the changes are few and far between – as aside from this other truck being a manual (the Rhino is an automatic), the only real spec differences are that the longer wheelbase model gets additional safety kit, dual-zone climate control and VIP shuttle-like tints for the back windows.

It was certainly cool to see the two pick-ups next to each other, and it’s more than likely the only time I’ll ever see another Musso parked next to it, outside of taking it to a SsangYong dealer.

But I was also keen to learn why my customer had bought a Musso in the first place, as while I reckon it’s quite accomplished, the South Korean brand remains seemingly unknown to the average punter, even despite Vinnie Jones’ best efforts in a recent TV ad. “You drive a what?” is the usual response when you tell someone you have a SsangYong.

Ssangyong Musso
Both trucks are powered by the same diesel engine

For my customer, their Musso replaced a Mitsubishi L200 pick-up and they were brutally honest in the fact it was bought based on having a “huge discount, and had everything included”. Given the value I reckon it represents at list price, it’s even more of a reason to get one when the price dropped.

Interestingly, they also said they probably wouldn’t have got one were it not for the fact that they pass a SsangYong dealer twice a day to and from work, with the local dealer – Broach Hill near Driffield, East Yorkshire – has a very prominent position at the side of a busy main road. SsangYong’s also constantly looking to expand its dealer network, and as this garage only took on the firm’s franchise in 2019, this growth is clearly paying dividends when it comes to brand awareness.

Ssangyong Musso
The load area on the long-wheelbase version is considerably larger

Sadly, though, it hasn’t all been plain sailing for them, as despite only clocking up less than 10,000 miles, it’s already been back to the garage on several occasions. First for coming with warped brake discs (presumably from being parked up for a long period of time), and second for a rattle that’s yet to be diagnosed. Not so good.

I’m now hoping that RK70 CPZ doesn’t suffer the same fate in the months I have remaining with it, as there have been no reliability issues and very few things that I don’t like about it. As the roads get ever muddier and the frosts set in, it’s really coming into its own. Long may it continue…

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