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SsangYong Rodius SV270 SE Auto - on sale now



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At the Rodius’s launch, SsangYong creative director Ken Greenley said: “If it chose to manufacture vehicles that visually conformed to the mainstream, then no matter how competent or well made they are in their execution, very few people would pay much attention.”

The Rodius certainly attracts attention from passers by. Pied Piper-style, the MPV induces hordes of total strangers to follow it into car parks, which can be unnerving. Even the police got in on the act, pulling AM over simply so they could start a conversation about the car.

The most distinctive, and controversial, design aspect is the wraparound rear window. It looks strange, like an afterthought, until you realize that it was anything but.

Greenley wanted to give passengers a feeling of travelling in a passenger car, not in the back of a van, so the side windows are designed as a saloon’s. Once you explain this, the styling makes sense.

Behind the wheel, headroom is surprisingly tight for such a big car. But each of the seven seats offers plenty of legroom, even if they are a bit hard and unforgiving. The sides hug you nicely, and the back support is good, but extra padding is needed.

The dashboard is laid out neatly, with all the instruments in the centre of the cabin. Front cup holders open and separate towards either the driver or the passenger – a nice touch. And there is a handy power outlet underneath the cigarette lighter, so drivers can charge their mobile.

Aircon is included as standard, but it’s noisy at the front, and even at full blast it fails to give rear passengers much of an airing. That’s probably because the Rodius is huge – more than five metres long – but it is surprisingly easy to manoeuvre around town.

Large wing mirrors help keep the sides and behind in view, which is handy as visibility is limited through the large rear windscreen.

Driving is very smooth. The SsangYong’s 2.7-litre diesel unit, combined with Mercedes-Benz transmission (a neat selling point for dealers), is responsive. Decent A-roads and motorways disappear more quickly than you perhaps intend.

In fact, it’s easy to forget that this is a full-size MPV. Well, until you hit bumpy B-roads that is, when a wave of seasickness floods in. The back and front of the car seem to be in different counties.

Pricing seems a little high (£18,999 for the S, £21,999 for the SE as tested) against rivals like the Kia Sedona, Hyundai Trajet and Seat Alhambra, although the Rodius does have a long list of standard equipment.

This is a car that grows on you. Forget short test drives: let the customer free for a while and the Rodius begins to sell itself.

Strengths: Nice to drive, value price
Weakness: Design is a matter of taste
Opportunity: Taxi drivers, big families
Threat: Hasn’t got the brand name to rely on
USP: Value for money full-size MPV

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