Toughness More than Skin-Deep

With a new distributor in Ateco Automotive comes a model rationalisation and a reprice for the SsangYong Actyon ute. It now represents better value given the level of standard equipment and what you actually get for your money.

Though essentially the same as it's been for a year or so, we revisited the Actyon Sports model and as before, have positive thoughts about the tough Korean workhorse. You'd certainly shop it against any of the other one-tonner Japanese (Thai-built) utes because it stacks up against any of them. In fact, the Actyon is better than some of the more favoured offerings in the segment on a number of scores and not just price. Build quality for one.

The standard load tray liner springs to mind, a 600kg payload is also worth keeping in mind and the tray shape lends itself to different uses because of its depth and width. They also include the tray lock into the remote central locking system. All good, sensible stuff. The cabin is large and easily takes five with plenty of rear-seat legroom.

Kit inside the cabin is generous including air-con, cruise, a decent audio system, trip computer, leather wheel, power ancillaries, auto folding wing mirrors, Bluetooth phone
and audio, and a multi-function wheel. The truck has a new front that looks as good as anything else on the market and is a decided improvement on the first hideous face on Actyon.

But it’s under the skin where the Actyon really shines. Those in the know will only need a look under the rear to appreciate the engineering in this light commercial. For a start it has a robust ladder chassis complete with coil spring suspension all round. The rear axle is located by a multi-link system and feels robust enough to take 600kg easily. It has a familiar look mechanically – possibly due to the influence of Mercedes-Benz years ago when it owned a share in Ssangyong.

The four-cylinder engine is a 2.0-litre VM Motori unit with 114kW/ 360Nm outputs. There’s a choice of six-speed manual or six-speed auto available (we had the auto) at $32,990 drive-away and it offers selectable 4WD by a dash-mounted dial.  Combined fuel consumption in this 2.0-tonne vehicle rates 7.9-litres/ 100km.

We clocked about 1000km in the Actyon and it served to verify our favourable impression of it. We think the three-star crash rating listed on ANCAP’s website from 2008 may be out of date. It has much more safety kit than it did back then. The drive experience is good with better comfort than most of the competition thanks to the coil spring suspension. The load height might be an issue for some. Engine performance is strong even when fully laden and there’s minimal noise or vibration from anywhere. It sits on the road well, limited by the height and suspension calibration. The interior is comfy and we like the style of the fully soft feel dash (other manufacturers take note).

Would we put down our hard earned on the Actyon? Yes, and pocket the difference between it and the ‘‘Japanese’’ one-tonners which are no better at best.

Written by Peter Barnwell