The SsangYong Rodius has been the butt of a fair few automotive jokes over the years, but as part of a fresh start the company has overhauled the styling, improved the cabin and changed the name to Turismo. The car now looks like a more traditional MPV – still not the most elegant design around, but unlikely to draw as many glances as the awkward Rodius.
Under the new body is a slightly tweaked version of the old car’s platform, so it retains its vast 3,000mm wheelbase (the same as a Toyota iQ’s full length). That means practicality is very much the Turismo’s forté, with seven spacious seats and a generous 875-litre boot when the rear bench is slid forwards. And if you remove this and fold the middle row, you can free up a 3,146-litre capacity – a Land Rover Discovery has 2,558 litres. It’s important to note that six-foot adults can fit in every seat, while the two-two-three layout makes access to row three easy.
SsangYong has improved the quality of the cabin materials, with soft-touch plastics on the dash and a leather steering wheel. There are still a lot of shiny, scratchy finishes, though. The Turismo is powered by a 153bhp 2.0-litre diesel developed by SsangYong. In our top-spec EX model, it’s hooked up to a five-speed automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive, which results in disappointing 35mpg economy.
No official 0-62mph time has been announced yet, but it should be about 12 seconds, with reasonable acceleration and smooth shifts from the Mercedes-sourced box. Not much engine noise disturbs the cabin, while the suspension seems to have been softened up, so it soaks up bumps better than the Rodius. The bodyshell itself isn’t that rigid, though – you can feel it flexing and hear thuds and creaks every now and then.
Slow steering means lots of arm twirling, while there’s a fair bit of body lean through corners. SsangYong expects the Turismo to start at £17,995, with our top-spec model costing from around £23,995. That makes this four-wheel-drive seven-seater – complete with heated leather seats, sat-nav and air-con – £7,000 cheaper than an equivalent SEAT Alhambra. Add SsangYong’s excellent five-year, unlimited mileage warranty, and it’s suddenly not so easy to poke fun at this renamed Rodius.
Dash materials have a slightly higher-quality feel, and while they’re still a bit cheap, most owners will be won over by the seven-seater’s practicality. Dash materials have a slightly higher-quality feel, and while they’re still a bit cheap, most owners will be won over by the seven-seater’s practicality.