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First look: The car that could save SsangYong

Six speeder: The new SsangYong C200 gets an Australian-made transmission.

SsangYong reveals near-production C200 crossover with Aussie transmission

6 Apr 2009

THE car that could save SsangYong has been revealed at the Seoul motor show, complete with a six-speed automatic transmission made in Albury.

Currently being restructured under the protection of court-based receivership, the South Korean car-maker presented the C200 - a compact SUV that could bring it back from the brink when it goes on sale late this year.

It will replace the slow-selling Actyon which had attempted to take on vehicles such as the Honda CR-V and Nissan X-Trail with an unrefined ladder frame chassis and out-dated former Mercedes petrol engine.

The C200 show car, which SsangYong says is “almost production ready”, is a bold-looking vehicle with none of the wild styling cues that exposed the brand to ridicule and possibly scared away many potential customers.

It has some resemblance to a scaled-down Audi Q7 thanks to a square grille and slit headlights that dominate the front of the car, while the rear has more in common with a sporty hatchback.

The thanks for the far more pleasing styling can go to Giugiaro’s ItalDesign, which SsangYong called on to shape the new model.

While the styling is crucial if SsangYong is get on the radar of customers, the C200 is also expected to be a significantly better vehicle to drive than the disappointing Actyon, not least because it is built on a monocoque frame like every other car in the compact crossover class.

28 center imageLeft: The SsangYong C200 Aero. Below: C200 Eco.

While the previous model was rear-wheel drive with the option of a locking-differential four-wheel-drive system that could be engaged on tarmac, the C200 appears to be front-wheel drive with the option of four-wheel drive, although no detail has been offered at this stage.

SsangYong says the C200 is similar in size to a Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, with a wheelbase of 2640mm. It is slightly longer than the VW Tiguan.

It says the C200 will have an all new drivetrain including a 2.0-litre diesel with Euro V exhaust emissions and 131kW of power, although SangYong has not mentioned the torque figure or a fuel economy number.

The engine will be available with a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic produced by Australia’s Drivetrain Systems International which Chinese car-maker Geely agreed to buy after the company went into receivership in February.

DSI, which supplies Ford Australia with four-speed automatics, is also well advanced with an eight-speed automatic transmission and a continuously variable automatic (CVT), but it is not yet clear if either of these could be used for the C200.

SsangYong says the C200 is relatively light, thanks to an extensive use of aluminium, presumably for the suspension, and has a low centre of gravity.

It says these factors have helped engineers give the C200 a compliant ride and sharp and agile handling.

The Australian importer of SsangYong, Sime Darby, says it is planning to import the C200 for sale in Australia from next February.

Read more:

SsangYong back into gear

SsangYong avoids bankruptcy

The Road to Recovery podcast series

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