Time for some action

by Andy Bryenton

The SsangYong brand has come to the attention of the public more than ever in recent months, with the arrival of the distinctive and eye-catching little Tivoli crossover on the nation’s highways.

But this funky, retro-styled runabout wasn’t the beginning for the big South Korean brand — it was their SUVs and utes which put them on the map here in New Zealand.

With a slow-burning campaign that has gained traction in the countryside due in no small part to the off-road abilities of their Actyon Sport 4×4 utility — and a bit to spokesperson Sir Colin Meads — SsangYong are moving beyond the status of a new and different badge and into the realms of the truly accepted. It’s hard to say no to a complete package like the Actyon, after all — in sports trim this 2.2-litre turbo-diesel ute has the carrying capacity, the ride height and the fuel economy to be a farmer’s best mate.

Then again, it’s also got a slice of that most modern quality of utes — a sedan like interior and ride. The demise of the big V and V8 town car may be in part down to the rise of SUVs and crossovers such as the aforementioned Tivoli and the bigger Rexton. But in the countryside, there’s a move toward having one truck for all seasons and all motoring missions. Far from being ‘agricultural’ in terms of noise and comfort level, the Actyon Sport fits the bill.

Delivering a handy 400Nm of torque and 174hp, SsangYong’s flagship light commercial is no slouch when it comes to hauling gear or with a trailer locked on. But it also delivers another top figure, averaging 7.4 litres per 100 kilometres in fuel economy. The mathematics all add up — this is a tidy and inexpensive ute that will cost less to run and which covers a whole lot of bases from town to highway to gravel and mud. 

While the Tivoli continues to turn heads in the city, it’s a certainty that financially savvy farmers will want to take a look in the Actyon Sport’s direction too.