By on August 9, 2017

2017 Ssangyong Rexton - Image: SsangyongOn one end of the spectrum, there’s the Ssangyong Rodius, which actually isn’t as catastrophically designed in its second-generation form as it was from 2004 to 2013.

On the other, there’s the Ferrari 250 GT Coupe Pininfarina.

Somewhere in between will be the next edition of Ssangyong’s large Rexton SUV, due in the early part of the next decade and styled by one of the world’s foremost design houses.

Bentley Bentayga, BMW X4, Lexus LX570? Get in line. The Ssangyong Rexton has secured Pininfarina’s services already.

Ssangyong Rodius - Image: SsangyongThere’s a relatively straightforward explanation for the partnership. Although Pininfarina is famous for Ferrari affiliation, the firm has farmed out its services to a wide variety of automakers in the past. Credit Pininfarina for the Cadillac Allante and MGB GT, as examples. That Pininfarina would provide assistance to an automaker in need is nothing new.

On the other side of the equation, considering the degree to which Ssangyong has often been incapable of designing attractive vehicles, the help that Pininfarina can provide was sorely needed. A seeking stylist and a sad Ssangyong will always meet.

But in reality, the partnership described in CAR Magazine is a side-effect of common ownership. South Korea’s Ssangyong and Italy’s Pininfarina have been in the fold of India’s Mahindra since 2011 and 2015, respectively.

The Mahindra name, meanwhile, rings a bell because of the small, diesel-powered pickup truck rumored to be imported from India in the post-recession malaise. It didn’t happen.

Ssangyong has attempted to generate a marketplace presence in prominent car-buying regions of the world, but hasn’t yet dipped its feet into the North American arena. European sales rose to a nine-year high in 2016, but at fewer than 20,000 units across the brand, that represented just 1/10th of 1 percent of the European market. Only one out of every 10 European Ssangyong sales last year was of the Rexton variety. The smaller Tivoli utility vehicle produced more than half the brand’s volume.

Reports of a Jeep Wrangler rival to launch the brand in the U.S. have surfaced in the past. The Tivoli, meanwhile, would be the volume driver if Ssangyong ever lived up to its goal of arriving in North America by 2020. But the Pininfarina-designed Ssangyong Rexton would be the brand flagship if Ssangyong ever surfaced on this side of the Pacific.

TTAC’s free advice: change the Ssangyong name, and don’t bring the Rodius.

[Images: Ssangyong Motor]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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10 Comments on “Ssangyong’s Next Rexton SUV Will Be Designed by Pininfarina — Hey, Remember the Ssangyong Rodius?...”

  • avatar

    What is that hatchba…. I mean hunchback?

  • avatar

    So I arrive in Israel in the middle of the night and make my way to the rental car lot. Our group of 6 got into the first Toyota Sienna which didn’t start. An hour passes and they find a second Sienna and the headlights don’t work. Another 30 minutes and they located a Sienna that passed the sniff test. All the while, there was a Rodius sitting right there…available if we wanted it… and I just couldn’t do it. The thing didn’t look like it was designed by a real car company. It looked like it was designed by someone who had only once seen a car before, from a distance, in the middle of the night, after several drinks. I can be hard on car designs but deep down I know that they all meet some sort of image/form/function criteria. But this thing was inexplicable. Pininfarina can only help.

    • 0 avatar

      So waiting an hour and a half (or more) while going through two broken vehicles wasn’t enough for you to get over your vanity long enough to drive something that worked?

      I don’t like ugly vehicles, including the first gen Rodius, but be damned if I’d sit around and wait because I’m too good to drive one. Give me a Rodius, Aztec or Juke over nothing at all. Give me any of them over a Sienna while you’re at it.

      • 0 avatar

        I guess the answer to your question is obviously “yes” but I wouldn’t bring “vanity” into it. I’ve driven any number of cars with less than stellar styling and I care little for brand or status. You mention some other cars. I was no fan of the Aztec’s looks but would have known the underlying vehicle was pretty much mainstream. I don’t love the looks of the Juke either but I do love the car and would drive one in a minute. But this was a case where I had never heard of the Rodius. I knew nothing about it. The looks are all I had to go on. And the looks indicated that at least some of the people responsible for the car had no idea what they were doing. (The Sienna ended up being a fine companion, shuttling 6 of us and lots of luggage around for 2 weeks.)

  • avatar

    The current one isn’t bad, and can seat up to 11. Its still ungainly looking, but not as bad as the first gen. Plus, its RWD and has Mercedes bits imbeeded deep inside.

    Ssangyong’s current SUVs (and pickup) aren’t bad looking, not to me anyway.

    The Rodius is kinda like a Mercedes R-Class, it wouldn’t work here just as that vehicle didn’t. Nobody here seems to want MPVs without sliders.

  • avatar

    In defense of the Korean automotive industry, the infamous SsangYong Rodius was, in fact, designed by a Brit, Ken Greeley. In criticism of the Korean automotive industry, the leadership of SsangYong saw his design and said, “hmmm…yes”!

    Also, don’t change the name from SsangYang. I honestly think that one of the reasons that Japanese automakers have been so successful is that many of them have seen fit to capitalize on “Japanese-ness”, whatever their various marketing departments have decided that meant. This is obviously also true of the German makes.

    By contrast, Hyundai and Kia still have an image primarily of cheapness, of price if not now in quality and construction, and don’t utilize any real native cultural sense. Nationality and conceptions thereof make an easy springboard to stronger identity formation. Let SsangYong come up with some appealing notion of “Korean-ness”–including the name–and I’m willing to bet that the company would at least have a stronger image in the eyes of the public than H/K have managed in the same time.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      The are so fugly!

      Even the Actyon ute/pickup was disgusting aesthetically until they changed the front end.

      But, the Actyon ute was given lots of accolades for it’s build quality and handling and ride comfort vs work capacity. A 4WD, diesel pickup with all the bling one would want used to move off the lots for around 30-33AUD or 22-23USD. That is quite cheap.

      For their price they were bling laden and quite nice.

      They are sort of a niche pickup with old timers after a cheap ute.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    We have Ssyanyong in Australia and it’s struggling. Most reviews do rave about the quality of these vehicles as they are well built.

    What you guys call the Rodius is called the Stavia in Australia and my step brother here owns one and swears by it as it has never given him a problem in 10 years. It has a diesel, which could be more powerful. But other than that it is comfortable inside.

    I have looked at the Rexton and it was not as bad a looking vehicle, it was actually quite palatable and it had a larger 2.8 litre diesel with 4×4 hi and lo. The interior was very well put together and it was much cheaper than any Toyota or Mitsubishi at the time.

    I hope Ssyangyong do well.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I’ll be. I went to the 2016 Paris Auto show last October and I saw the Concept Rexton, the LIV2.

    The 2018 Rexton actually looks really nice inside as well. I’m to keen on the engine choice for vehicle of it’s size. And I wonder how well will this off road.

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