SsangYong Rodius EX auto 4 wheel drive
What is it?
SsangYong’s Rodius is just about the biggest people-carrier available on the UK market.
Three rows of seats give sprawling room for seven, with the third bench in particular providing space for three adults rather than just being a token affair suitable only for children.
Ssangyong is undertaking a big two-stage update to the Rodius
Even with the third row of seats in place, there’s still a full ration of space for occupants’ luggage – something that can’t always be taken for granted even in the largest seven-seaters.
Other traditional strengths have been low prices and an interesting technical pedigree; thanks to past Ssangyong alliance links, the Rodius started life with a last-generation, Mercedes-derived 2.7-litre five-cylinder diesel engine and five-speed automatic gearbox.
On the other hand, the Rodius’ unusual looks have probably deterred some potential buyers.
Now, Ssangyong is undertaking a big two-stage update to the Rodius which could see it being taken a lot more seriously.
Our review car reflects the first stage of that update – the replacement of the old Mercedes diesel engine with Ssangyong’s own Euro V compliant torquey 2.0-litre diesel four already seen in some of the company’s other models such as the Korando. The second, future, part of the update concerns the Rodius’ looks.
A re-skin, already shown at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year and shown in the pictures here smooths out some of the Rodius’ awkward curves and creases to give it a much more mainstream look.
Cars currently in the UK still have the old bodywork – the new-look SsangYong Rodius is scheduled to arrive in August.
- Vast interior space for passengers
- Generous luggage space and high levels of practicality
- High seating position and large glass area, which make the Rodius a good car for long journeys
- Keen prices starting at just £15,995 combined with fairly generous equipment levels
- Appealingly torquey new 360Nm 2.0-litre diesel engine provides surprisingly lively performance despite being smaller than the old Mercedes engine which it replaces
- Optional four-wheel drive is useful for light off-road use, wintry roads and family ski trips
- Generous two-tonne towing weight.
- The Rodius’ awkward looks have always attracted criticism but the revised version already seen at this year’s Geneva Motor Show will address the problem
- While the Rodius’ interior is unmatched by just about anything else on the market for space, some of the materials and colours will jar a little with European buyers; the basic interior architecture will be carried over to the restyled model but with some improvements
- The Rodius doesn’t offer much in the way of dynamic sparkle but then nobody is going to buy one as a driving machine anyway
- While the new diesel engine is very effective at pulling the big Rodius around, it’s still not that company car tax-friendly in terms of its official CO2 emissions and fuel consumption figures – although these need to be seen in the context of the Rodius’ size and near-unrivalled carrying capacity.
Business Car Manager road test verdict
The new diesel engine suits the Rodius well, providing surprisingly lively performance considering the loss of capacity compared with the old power unit.
That said, even with the new engine, the Rodius still isn’t especially company car tax-friendly, although its size means it can do jobs that few other vehicles on the market can manage. Four wheel drive won’t help either.
Nevertheless, because of the relatively low P11D value, a basic rate tax payer will pay £124 a month in company car tax, and this is an awful lot of car for that. Think of it as £17.70 per seat!
Combined with the forthcoming bodywork changes due Q3 2013, the new engine could help to move the Rodius out of its niche and into the mainstream, broadening the appeal of its value-for-money message. SME executive car hire firms take note.
As Kia and Hyundai have gone from strength to strength, Ssangyong has been seen as the poor relation among the Korean brands. But it has quietly been improving its market position with competitive new models such as the Korando SUV and Korando Sports pick-up that cater for customers who need to get their wheels muddy, tow trailers or generally carry a lot of stuff.
That will help the Rodius as well.
The Low Down…
|Doors and body style||5-door people carrier|
|Engine/gearbox||2 litre 4 cyl turbodiesel/5-speed auto|
…and what it costs
|Monthly business rental (ex VAT)||From £467 (3yrs/30,000 miles)|
|Road tax (VED)||Band K|
|Company Car Tax Bands 2013/14 to 2015/16||35%, 35%, 37%|
|Benefit in kind 2013/14 to 2015/16||£7469, £7469, £7896|
|Annual/Monthly fuel benefit (20%)||£1477/£123|
|Annual/Monthly fuel benefit (40%)||£2954/£246|
|Annual/monthly company car tax (20%)||£1494/£124|
|Annual/monthly company car tax (40%)||£2988/£249|