SsangYong has revealed its first model developed in collaboration with Shanghai Automotive Industries Corporation.
The new compact SUV, codenamed C200, signals the start of a product offensive of 20 new models on five new platforms, over five years, starting next year.
Paul Williams, SsangYong UK managing director, said: “The car is very important for us as it’s the first demonstration of the new strategy that was announced at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year.”
The new C200 is the Korean manufacturer’s first monocoque-bodied car and also first front-wheel drive which is likely to feature on new saloon and hatchback models in the SsangYong line-up.
The styling of the new C200 has been handled by ItalDesign styling house which is also working on other new SsangYong models.
Williams said: “The C200 gives a good impression of the look of future SsangYongs.
“There will also be an all-wheel drive version of the C200 and for the time being SsangYong’s brand DNA will remain focused for the moment on SUVs.”
New dealers will need to be recruited before SsangYong UK moves into passenger cars, Williams says.
Not all the new models will come to the UK – some of them are large saloons, aimed at the Korean domestic market.
He said: “We know we’ll not take all the 20 models. We need to make the right choice about what comes next.
“It’d be great to have B and C sector, and MPVs, that are consistent with the SsangYong brand.
“We need cars that need to be somewhat niche – because people who buy less mainstream products are more open to new ideas and concepts.”
There is also likely to be some degree of Rover content in some of the new cars.
SsangYong parent SAIC is now producing cars based on Rover platforms, as well as updated versions of the K-series Rover petrol engines, and these engines in particular are likely to be used in SsangYong’s future product.
The company could potentially run into problems with Merdedes-Benz as the C200 name may clash with the German brand's C-Class range.
A spokesman for SsangYong said: "We're not aware of any problem with Mercedes-Benz at this time."