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.

Sport
The Queen and the letter sent to Charlie
football
Arts and Entertainment
Eurovision Song Contest 2015
EurovisionGoogle marks the 2015 show
News
Two lesbians hold hands at a gay pride parade.
peopleIrish journalist shares moving story on day of referendum
Arts and Entertainment
<p>
<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
</p>
<p>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
<p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
<p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
booksKathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
News
Liz Kendall played a key role in the introduction of the smoking ban
newsLiz Kendall: profile
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
Voices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
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

    Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

    £40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

    Guru Careers: Software Developer

    £35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

    Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

    £25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

    Day In a Page

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?