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SsangYong XAVL concept previews 7-seat SUV in Geneva

SsangYong’s SUV range is set to grow and the XAVL concept points the way to a new 7-seat rival for the Land Rover Discovery Sport

SsangYong  has revealed a new concept car heading to this year’s Geneva Motor Show, previewing a new mid-to-large size SUV from the South Korean firm to rival the Kia Sorento, Hyundai Santa Fe and Skoda Kodiaq

Called the XAVL Concept – the “eXciting Authentic Vehicle Long SUV” – it builds on the smaller, chunkier XAV concept revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2015, slotting in above that model as a five or seven-seater. We expect the XAV to become a production model in 2019, and the XAVL could go on sale by the end of the decade too.

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• The Korean Land Rover? SsangYong's plan for future growth

The XAVL Concept boasts aggressive, angular folds and lines, while the car’s front end is an evolution of SsangYong’s current design language. Many of the creases and some of the more radical design details will no doubt be toned down a little for production. 

SsangYong's CEO Johng Sik-Choi, who was present at the XAVL reveal, says it marries "the off-road capability of an SUV with the practicality and versatility of an MPV".

In the cabin, the company promises a “wide inner space with a user friendly interface”, pointing to the infotainment and technology showcased on the XAVL concept. A digital instrument display sits behind the steering wheel, while the cabin architecture is horizontal and angular.

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Sitting in the middle of the dashboard is a 10.15-inch colour LCD infotainment screen, while the XAVL concept also boasts of plenty of 'Internet of Things' connectivity – the screen, along with the sat nav and air conditioning can be controlled through a connected smartphone, alongside Link to Home features too.

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Driver assists are also part of the package – the XAVL features automatic emergency braking, lane change and keep assist, high beam assist, blind spot detectors and a rear cross traffic alert function. There's even an airbag for the windscreen to stop pedestrians hitting their head on the glass.

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Ssangyong has also hinted at what engines could appear in the production XAVL when it goes on sale, touting a 1.5-litre turbo petrol and a 1.6-litre diesel with manual and automatic transmission options. The XAVL is only envisioned as a front-wheel-drive SUV for the time being, though given the brand's history four-wheel drive is a possibility. 

Speaking to Auto Express in 2016, SsangYong Motor Company CEO Johng-sik Choi told us the car could be on sale by the end of the decade, explaining; “We will be developing a new D-segment global monocoque platform to build a D-SUV and D-MPV in the next five years.” 

SsangYong currently has two platforms, favouring a monocoque for cars like the Tivoli and a ladder-frame platform for its bigger SUVs like the Rexton. SsangYong used the recent Paris Motor Show to preview the next Rexton with its LIV-2 concept. 

“As an off-road player we like to keep a frame-type vehicle, but completely modernised,” Choi told us. “We specialise and it differentiates us from others. A tough environment suits our cars.”

 “SsangYong has 65 years of brand heritage, coming from a body-on-frame chassis and diesel engines.”

Choi also confirmed he was planning to increase production to 500,000 cars per year, using technology from within his own company, parent company Mahindra and the LG U+ telecommunications arm of Korean electronics giant LG.

Can SsangYong challenge Land Rover in the large SUV segment? Let us know in the comments section...

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