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SsangYong set to return to Australia in 2018

SsangYong will return to Australia as a factory-backed operation by year’s end.

After nearly a 24-month absence, South Korean carmaker SsangYong will mark its return to Australia later this year with fresh product including the Tivoli small SUV, XLV compact SUV, Rexton large SUV and new-generation Musso pick-up.

After being dropped by former distributor Ateco Automotive in November 2016, SsangYong’s Australian rebirth will now be an independent, factory-backed affair after time spent researching the complex local market.

SsangYong executive director of export markets Dan Rim said the brand now believes it has the product portfolio in place to make an impact on Australia’s mature car market, as an OEM operation could provide “initiatives with long gestation periods” that “reflect our commitment to the Australian market and help us gain customer and channel confidence”.

However, SssangYong is still to set-up an Australian headquarters, as well as homologation and a local suspension tuning program for its vehicles.

All SsangYong products will feature a mix of petrol and diesel powertrains, manual and automatic transmissions, as well as advanced driver-assistance technologies. All SsangYong products will feature a mix of petrol and diesel powertrains, manual and automatic transmissions, as well as advanced driver-assistance technologies.

In addition to the aforementioned vehicles, SsangYong will also bring back its Stavic seven-seat people mover and has plans in place for new SUVs to be launched in 2019 and 2021 respectively.

Mr Rim is promising the brand will keep things rolling every six months with more product news, while all SsangYong products will feature a mix of petrol and diesel powertrains, two- and four-wheel drive, and manual and automatic transmissions, as well as advanced driver-assistance technologies.

As for sales aspirations, Mr Rim would not be drawn on a specific target, but said he was confident SsangYong would be sticking around.

“We certainly are very confident about better acceptance of our new products,” he said. “We are also looking at ‘confidence-inspiring’ warranty and aftersales programs to support sales.

“The Australian market is demonstrating a strong preference for SUVs and pick-ups for growth, and we are an SUV and pick-up company.

“Our vehicles have some strong points of differentiation. We expect prospective dealers will find our business proposition attractive.”

The Tivoli small SUV first went on sale in 2015 and is available with either a petrol or diesel 1.6-litre engine, in six-speed manual or automatic form and two- or four-wheel drive set-up.

The XLV meanwhile, is a stretched version of the Tivoli that is available exclusively with all-wheel drive and the 1.6-litre diesel powerplant.

Mr Rim said he was confident SsangYong would be sticking around. Mr Rim said he was confident SsangYong would be sticking around.

The second-generation Rexton large SUV was launched in South Korea last year and sports a body-on-frame chassis shared with the Musso ute.

Available with a choice of turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol or 2.2-litre diesel engines, the Rexton’s powerplant is mated to either a Mercedes-Benz-sourced seven-speed '7G-Tronic' automatic, Aisin-sourced six-speed auto or six-speed manual.

Safety features in the international Rexton extend to nine airbags, auto emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane-departure warning, lane-change assist and rear cross-traffic alert.

Finally, the new-generation Musso ute, which was revealed at this year’s Geneva motor show, is available overseas with the Rexton’s 2.2-litre diesel engine, and six-speed manual and automatic transmissions.

Will SsangYong hit the mainstream with its plan to return to the Australian market? Tell us what you think in the comments below.