While we might have had the tropical highs of 10 degrees in recent days, cast your mind back a month and we were experiencing some of the coldest February days in memory – involving the likes of snowdrifts and minus double-digit temperatures.
I’m no meteorologist, but it’s definitely some of the winteriest weather I’ve seen for some time, and it therefore couldn’t have been more perfectly timed with having ‘my’ SsangYong Musso over this cold snap.
I’ll be honest and say that with recent milder winters – at least here in North Yorkshire – I’ve become a bit cynical about panic buying 4x4s as soon as temperatures dip below zero, or if there’s the lightest of dusting of snow. But this recent snap definitely exerted the fact of just how useful something capable off-road can be when the winter takes a turn for the worst.
This was shown most when on a trip back from the shops and the winds had picked up, I was suddenly surrounded by some of the worst snow drifts I’ve seen, which were increasingly worsening. It got to the point where, even as useful as the Musso was, I wasn’t going to try and make it go through snow that was almost above the wheels and getting higher.
I was somewhat petrified by the idea of coming to a stop to try and reverse back out, but – after putting the four-wheel-drive setting into the ‘lock’ setting – the Musso didn’t even struggle, and carried on almost as if there was no snow there whatsoever. Call me impressed, and it certainly avoided the horrible prospect of getting stuck.
The Musso also came in useful when it came to sledging – yes, I might be 22 and not have any kids, but it won’t stop me. So among the many perks of living on a farm in North Yorkshire is having a steep grass dale that is virtually useless at all other times of year until sledging is concerned.
Said dale is behind our house but down a long rutted lane and is a pain to access at the best of times, never mind the snow – unless you have a truck that is. So rather than a long walk (lazy, I know), I could just throw the sledges in the back of the pick-up’s bed and drive down instead, where the Musso again proved to be impressively capable. With the snow lingering for almost a week, I made a habit of doing this after work each day. Well, if you can’t go skiing in the Alps, you have to get your winter thrills another way, right?
While the snow might have soon disappeared, my appreciation of the Musso’s off-road talents has certainly lasted much longer, though all the small local trips have only helped to add weight to two small criticisms I’ve had in previous months.
The first is its thirst for fuel. Granted, this is a big and heavy pick-up, and you’d never expect it to not be especially efficient, but it’s been averaging only around 22mpg, which is still rather poor. Though, it’s worth noting it gets above 30mpg on longer trips.
The second is its struggle to pick up radio signals, as despite being quite young and having access to Spotify and the like, I’d rather just stick Radio 1 on instead. But around here – and we are rural but not that rural – it really struggles for any reception. I’m not sure if it’s because of its small ‘shark-fin’ aerial, but it just can’t pick up any signal in the way other vehicles can. Granted, if you’re in a town or city, it’s no bother, but given the Musso is more likely to be found on a farm than it is in a city centre, it’s a bit annoying.
But despite these slight inconveniences, the Musso is otherwise continuing to prove a delight, and it will be with a lot of genuine sadness when it’s returned to SsangYong in the coming weeks.
Model: SsangYong Musso LWB Rhino
Price as tested: £29,995 (excl VAT)
Engine: 2.2-litre turbocharged diesel
0-60mph: 11.7 seconds
Top speed: 107mph
Fuel economy: 28.2mpg
Emissions: 262g/km CO2