Ssangyong Rodius 270 XDI SE - The Verdict

Its unfortunate name may have made it the butt of jokes, but David Wilkins was very impressed by the size and quality of SsangYong's new MPV

Price: £21,999
Engine: 2.7-litre turbodiesel
Performance: 0 to 62mph in 13.5 seconds, 28.5mpg
CO2: 267g/km
Worth considering: Chrysler Grand Voyager, Kia Sedona, Renault Grand Espace

The Rodius hasn't had much of a welcome in the UK; in fact, the sneering started even before it arrived, when the first photos of its unusual bodywork appeared. And SsangYong provided a hostage to fortune by giving its new car a name that rhymes with the word odious, unleashing a predictable torrent of the sorts of weak, obvious gags and puns that are the motoring writer's stock in trade. The only comedic possibility that hasn't been exploited is the potential that the allegedly silent "R" in Rodius might provide for one of those "lost consonants" cartoons, although SsangYong disobligingly omitted the second 'o' from Rodius that would have been required to make it work properly.

But after a week getting to know - and, to my surprise, rather like - the Rodius, I was beginning to imagine a different sort of cartoon; one of those HE Bateman "the man who..." affairs in which the excruciatingly embarrassed subject finds himself totally out of step with everyone else.

In it, I featured as "the motoring journalist who ventured to suggest that the SsangYong Rodius wasn't all that bad, actually".

So what made me change my mind about the Rodius? First, the styling, inside and out. I had been expecting to poke fun at this myself but when our test car turned up, it didn't, to my eyes, look too bad, although I suspect that its appearance may have been flattered by its black paintwork and heavily tinted windows.

A dark colour scheme isn't enough to turn the Rodius into a beauty but at least it allows you to get beyond the looks and consider what else it has to offer. And that's good, because the Rodius does have some strong points. These include the Mercedes-based 2.7-litre diesel engine and automatic transmission.

This combination does a good job of pulling the heavy SsangYong around, although with its low-geared steering and rather wallowy ride the Rodius is probably not going to be at the top of the keenest drivers' lists.

The Rodius's other big plus is the vast interior. It's a true seven-seater, and a generous one at that. The second row consists of two armchair-style swivelling seats, while the third row is also roomy enough to carry adults fairly easily. Even with this in place, there is still a large area to stow luggage and shopping in the boot. For the price, there is nothing to touch it for space.

But SsangYong also deserves some credit for its boldness. With the Rodius, the company has produced a genuinely interesting car that everyone is talking about, and that's a feat that some of its better-known, longer-established rivals find surprisingly difficult to pull off.

Philip Kelly, 44, and James Kelly, 12, fleet technician from Braintree, Essex
USUAL CAR: VAUXHALL CAVALIER 2.0

"From most angles it's hideous to look at - from the huge bulbous front to the loft extension at the rear. So if you have one, have it in black with dark glass so that the rear side windows blend into the body. Other downers are a huge delay before it responds to a hurry-up call from your right foot and no rear vision from the interior mirror. On the positive, it's well-equipped; I liked the electrically adjustable driver's seat and the Mercedes-Benz running gear should ensure longevity.I enjoyed the experience - from the inside."

James: "It's not as roomy as the Chrysler Voyager and the ride felt a little hard."

Gareth Tansey, 28, graphic designer from West Thurrock, Essex
USUAL CAR: LOTUS ELISE

"Initial impressions of this vehicle weren't inspiring. I've never been a fan of people carriers and when this arrived my enthusiasm didn't increase. Inside, the space was quite overwhelming. The engine was smooth and had plenty of low-end torque for an automatic, but this is to be expected when you discover it's a 2.7 Mercedes unit. Taking any corner above 30mph makes you question whether the steering wheel is connected to anything. Rear visibility was poor due to the headrest on the rear seats taking up most of the rear-view mirror. If you're after space for seven people and their luggage this is a great vehicle, but if you want style, I'd look elsewhere."

Brian Saunders, 42, consultant from New Malden, Essex
USUAL CAR: SAAB 9000

"A slick automatic gearbox, relatively smooth turbo diesel, and the light feel of the controls seem to minimise the sheer size of the Rodius, which is good because someone at SsangYong must believe that size matters. But when you have built the biggest thing possible on the outside, why not put as many seats as possible on the inside? Having just the two seats in the second row makes it a doddle to get into the third row, unlike other people carriers, but doesn't that limit the customer base? For those families who can sacrifice the extra seat and get used to the rather unusual looks and relying on door mirrors to park, the Rodius could be a sensible choice."

THE VERDICT: If you would like to take part, e-mail motoring@independent.co.uk or write to: The Verdict, Features Department, Independent House, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS, giving your address, phone number and details of the car, if any, you drive. For most cars, participants must be over 26 and have a clean licence.

News
The guide, since withdrawn, used illustrations and text to help people understand the court process (Getty)
newsMinistry of Justice gets law 'terribly wrong' in its guide to courts
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mother Whitney Houston in 2011
people
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
scienceFeed someone a big omelette, and they may give twice as much, thanks to a compound in the eggs
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

    £15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

    Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

    Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

    Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

    £18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

    Day In a Page

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
    Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

    The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

    Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
    Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

    A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
    How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

    How books can defeat Isis

    Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
    The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

    The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

    The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
    Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

    Young carers to make dance debut

    What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
    Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

    Design Council's 70th anniversary

    Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
    Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

    Dame Harriet Walter interview

    The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

    Bill Granger's winter salads

    Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
    England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

    George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

    No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
    Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links