Once upon a time, the SsangYong Rodius would have been considered one of the ugliest cars on the road. It won a series of awards for its dreadful looks. Then, in 2014, SsangYong listened to the press and gave to the world a much more attractive package. Now, and maybe you won’t agree with me here, but I've kind of got a fascination about how it looks. I think I like it. It's an interesting looking beast of a car, and perhaps the road would look a little less interesting if it wasn't here.
There's good news and bad news about the SsangYong Rodius. Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first - because most buyers who opt for a car like this won't really care about them. First off, and it would be wrong of me not to mention it, the steering is incredibly light, and to turn even the smallest of bends, you will need to do more rotation on the steering wheel than you would in most other cars (certainly in comparison to other cars I've driven).
The ride can be a bit jittery, and as I've mentioned in the video review above, as you go over even minor road imperfections, you will notice the rearmost row shudder over the bumps. Of course, this becomes less noticeable as you have more passengers in the vehicle.
The Rodius is powered by a strong, but loud 2.2 litre engine, and houses a 6-speed manual gearbox. The engine is pretty-nifty, despite the size of the car. There is an automatic box available, but our bus came with the 6-speed manual. The throws between gears are long, so it will take potential owners a bit of time to get used to that. I kept going into fourth instead of the intended six. By the time I gave back the car, I was a little more use to it.
Next up on the “bad stuff” list is the quality of some of the materials in the car. Now, the good news here is that nothing broke on me, but the door handles felt very plastic to the touch, while the surrounds of the infotainment system were not at all to my liking. At this point though, I can start on what a potential SsangYong Rodius buyer is actually looking for – the “good news”. The interior is very comfortable, and just above that cheap infotainment surround is where the nicer, softer, plastics come into play. The infotainment system, while it may look a bit dated, it is pretty good. It's functional, and easy to use.
The seats within our test car were like arm chairs, and I'm not just talking about the ones up front. Row two and row three are super-spacious and the leather trim within our test car made them that little bit more comfortable. All seats in row two and three can fold flat onto themselves, which means that if you are sitting in the third row, you can fold the row two seat in front of you forward and use it as a foot rest or as a small coffee table. The row two seats can also recline, which means that if you want to go for a snooze, this is easily done!
As a kid, I used to love going out to play in my Dad's car. I notice my kids are into doing the same thing, and the Rodius was like their little hideaway for the three days that I had the car. The loved the space and feel within the car.
Another huge practicality that this car has is a mammoth boot. It's ginormous. I think the figure I read in the spec sheet was something like 875 litres. Then, if you fold the third and second row down, you have the practicality of a van. In fairness to SsangYong, they've made a car that's perfectly suited to taxi drivers who regularly do an airport run. There’s enough room in that boot for plenty of luggage.
SsangYong is by no means the most popular car brand in Ireland. The Tivoli and Tivoli XLV are the best cars that they have to offer. The Tivoli is certainly their most fairly-priced car – it’s low enough to tempt buyers into the seat of this relatively (to Ireland) unknown brand. This brings me to the price point. While this car is unrivalled in terms of space, I do feel that SsangYong has overpriced it. I know that you will get a smaller-sized Ford Galaxy from about €39,000, and a SEAT Alhambra from in and around €38,000. I’m aware that both these cars are smaller than the Rodius, but they are better performers and nicer drives. Therefore, I think that SsangYong’s entry-level price of €39,995 is a bit too steep to bring footfall to their showrooms.
Yes, the Rodius certainly has its bad sides. However, anyone who opts for a car like this will have done their homework in advance. They’ll probably fall in love with the car, despite its flaws. The reason being is because there simply isn’t a car as practical on the Irish market. With that said though, SsangYong could certainly spend some time in making it better. A bit more love needs to go into the steering and ride quality of this car.
Read more SsangYong reviews on Car Buyers Guide here.