THE latest submission in an ever-growing line-up from Korean manufacturer SsangYong is, for the first time, an MPV. But instead of starting small, it thought big and the result is the Stavic, a Korean word meaning “rising star”.

We tried hard to find something nice to say about the Stavic’s styling, but couldn’t come up with anything believable, so we just have to come out with it – this car is seriously ugly. Having stated that, we will add a quote from Oscar Wilde, who said, “There is only one thing worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about”.

Fact is, nobody ignores this vehicle, nor can it be criticised for being boring. The grille is oversized, with bulbous foglamp surrounds protruding from the lower bumper, but the headlights are perhaps the best looking feature up front. The strangest aspect of the styling, though, is found towards the rear, which looks as if a helicopter landing deck has been welded onto a fastback shape with triangular side windows inserted for good measure.

Wheels are very busy-looking alloys with the spare (also alloy) mounted under the body. As with the marque’s SUV’s and doublecabs, the drivetrain layout adopts rear-wheel drive and is mated with a 2,7-litre Mercedes-Benz in-line fivecylinder turbodiesel engine.

The interior is more successful in achieving design harmony, and the centrally-mounted instruments add to the unorthodox character of the vehicle, with the bank of warning lights plus gear ratio readout in front of the driver. The facia is finished in a brown laminated covering with an up-market feel and look. Between the front seats is one of the biggest storage compartments we have encountered, with a small, flip-up top section hiding the huge lower compartment that is able to house up to eight tins of your favourite beverage. Pity that the trim engineers did not complete the scene by piping-in some air-conditioned air to turn it into a mini fridge.

Legroom is of limousine proportions, with the two centre seats having the most space all-round. The steering wheel is clad in black leather and sports neatly integrated sound system controls. Seats are covered in a cloth material with a quality, hardwearing look. Comfort is on the hard side, with reasonably generous bolstering. The middle pair of seats have dual armrests each, but these are too short to be of real benefit, and the seating position is also on the low side. Access to the rearmost seats is by folding the middle seats flat. This bench seat folds out flat in the form of a bed, and is spacious enough for seated passengers, although a bit claustrophobic due to the small, non-opening side windows. No parcel shelf is supplied to cover luggage, which is a pity.

The Stavic feels quite relaxed and easy-going, not only on the open road, but in traffic as well. The engine shows some hesitation in getting out of the blocks, but once the Garrett turbo gets going it makes up for the initial lag and moves off with gusto. The gearbox takes a second or so to change gears, which is a bit long, but at least the changes are smooth. Acceleration is good, and a zero to 100 km/h time of 13,25 seconds is fine for a vehicle with a mass of over 2,1 tons.

Suspension is firm, but the vehicle is somewhat underdamped causing some body-rock after traversing bumps. Steering uses hydraulic power assistance, and the overall feel is spot-on. Fuel consumption will depend on the driver’s style, but should be satisfactory. Expect a range of over 750 km on a tank.

Test summary

There is nothing wrong with the overall engineering of this vehicle. It is easy to drive, powerful, very spacious, well specced, and reasonably priced for what it offers. It really is only the “Darth Vader’s helmet” looks that will put off some people. But others will appreciate it for the same reason. All-round quality looks good, and the spacious interior will swallow just about anything thrown at it. Performance is impressive, initial lag apart. The inclusion of a three-year maintenance plan adds peace of mind.

Original article from Car