2012 SSANGYONG ACTYON SPORTS REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Double cab 4x2 utility
Price: $27,782 (plus on-roads)
Fuel Economy (claimed): 7.6 l/100km
Fuel Economy(tested): 9.0 l/100km
It’s a bit of surprise, SsangYong‘s new Actyon Sports ute. We expected to get a lot of car for relatively little; not expected however was that it performs quite well - a good diesel, solidly built and not a bad interior.
Line it up against its logical competitors, and the SsangYong dual-cab appears a strong value-for-money proposition.
There are some limitations to its overall usability due to a compact rear bench and lower carrying capacity, but as a cheap way into a hard-working turbodiesel dual-cab, the Actyon Sports has a bit going for it.
It is a shame then that the 2WD Tradie model tested in this review is blighted by serious omissions to its safety features.
Quality: We can’t claim - in this test - to have been as tough on the Actyon Sports as a few years of hard labour will be, but the interior seems ruggedly constructed. Trim gaps are varied but the individual components are firm and secure.
Some of the smoother surfaces are a little scratch-prone and we have our doubts about the longevity of the super-soft vinyl on the door armrests.
But, after a week of being banged and thumped while in our hands, the impression is that the Actyon Sports will stand up well to some hard graft.
Comfort: Front seat passengers get wide bucket seats to stretch into with comfy fabric trim. Rear seats offer a fair amount of legroom, and headroom is generous front and back as well.
But both front and rear seats are too low in the backrest, with the rears in particular finishing only three quarters of the way up an adult back. Your workmates will complain but young kids will find them ok.
Equipment: Although the range opener, the base model Tradie features remote central-locking with alarm, air-con, power windows on all doors, heated electrically-adjustable mirrors, Bluetooth, trip computer, and lumbar adjust for the driver’s seat.
There’s also a four-speaker CD audio system with MP3 player and aux-input, a plastic bed-liner for the tray and 16-inch steel wheels with a full sized spare wheel.
Storage: Space in the tub is down fractionally on the likes of Hilux, Navara or Ranger. The Actyon has a tub length of 1275mm, width of 1600mm (down to 1120mm between the wheel arches) and depth of 525mm.
Cargo carrying is limited to 370kg and braked towing capacity of 2300kg (unbraked is 750kg), with a tow-ball load rated at 230kg.
Inside storage spaces aren’t plentiful; the sole cup-holder is awkwardly placed and the other storage trays are all small and awkwardly shaped. The glovebox is only slim, but the centre console offers a handy bit of space.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: SsangYong’s thoroughly-modern powertrain is a front-runner in terms of technical sophistication when compared to some of the competing dual-cab utes.
It’s a variation on the ‘Euro-designed’ 2.0 litre DOHC diesel from the Korando SUV, producing 114kW of power between 3400-4000rpm and 360Nm of torque between 1500-2800rpm.
Under 2000rpm, while not way off pace, it’s a little sluggish, but from there and above feels quite strong.
The Australian-built six-speed automatic transmission will work to keep revs low when left in drive, or can be switched to manual mode and controlled by buttons on the steering wheel or a rocker switch on the gear lever.
Refinement: The Actyon Sports provides a surprisingly civilised ride. There’s some diesel rattle at idle and occasionally through the rev range, but it’s not excessive.
There’s little high speed drumming or booming (although we tested without a tonneau cover) and road and wind noise aren’t severe at speed either.
There’s a slight pause between shifts from the six-speed auto, but changes are smooth and free of shunting and driveline shock. The box is conservative in its shift mapping, but clever enough to pick the right gear for the task.
Suspension: Coil springs suspend the Actyon Sports at all four corners acting on a double wishbone front axle and multi-link rear. The ride is very soft and there’s a fair bit of pitching and leaning when unladen.
By adding a small load, the ride height dropped but the ride settled markedly. The Actyon needs to be ‘chased’ on the road however as the steering is prone to wander.
Braking: Braking comes courtesy of front and rear disc brakes. Underfoot the pedal feels ‘marshmallowy’, as does the actual pulling up. At low speeds there’s plenty of grinding and juddering from the pads as well. It should be better here.
ANCAP rating: Not tested
Safety features: Safety equipment is slim. There are dual front airbags, height adjustable front seatbelts with pretensioners and load limiters, and adjustable headrests for all positions. The rear centre seat belt is lap only.
For a more comprehensive suite of safety equipment, including ESP, you’ll need to step up to the higher specification SX or SPR models.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: 3 years/100,000km
Service costs: Service costs may vary, consult your SsangYong dealer before purchase.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Isuzu D-Max SX ($30,700) - Right now you could probably pull a great deal on the D-Max. With a new model just around the corner, dealers will be keen to clear remaining stock.
For the extra money you get a slightly bigger ute with a larger payload, however the transmission is a five-speed manual and despite an extra litre of engine capacity there’s no additional torque. (see D-Max reviews)
Great Wall V200 2.0 DT ($27,990 driveaway): It’s cheap, that’s all we’d concede. Ateco will not supply press cars for review to TMR - which puts a huge question mark over this car. We would advise against buying a pig-in-a-poke regardless of how cheap.
Toyota Hilux Workmate 2.7i ($28,990) - The benchmark for unbreakable reliability, however the HiLux Workmate at this price is petrol only, with the automatic transmission and diesel engine combo only available as a 4x4 (at $40,990).
Externally revised, the Hilux betrays its age with a dated, if sturdy, interior. The automatic is only a four-speed, but tray capacity is longer and wider, although slightly shallower. (see Hilux reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
SsangYong’s new-for-2012 Actyon Sports has not only rid itself of the controversial styling of the previous model, but has also delivered powertrain technology that genuinely rivals the established brands.
While a tight back-seat makes the Actyon Sports an unsuitable candidate for work teams of more than two, for young families it’s a better fit.
The Tradie model however - although inexpensive - is not the one to buy. It is let down by its meagre safety list: surely ESP and ABS is a minimum requirement for you, your family or your workers.
We would recommend opting for the higher specification model, so as not to miss out on ESP and ABS brakes along with other safety systems.
It’s a shame, we would happily have awarded more stars in the verdict - this ute is better than 2.5 stars - but for a vehicle designed for carrying a load, or towing a trailer, it is not acceptable that these safety systems have been omitted. Whatever the price.
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