Car Reviews

2014 Ssangyong Actyon Sports Ute review

Isaac Bober’s 2014 Ssangyong Actyon Sports Ute review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and rating.

The dual-cab market in Australia has literally exploded in the last few years with buyers expecting a whole lot more than just a rough and tumble load lugger. Manufacturers’ line-ups have thus had to grow from offering an entry-level knock-around model to a fully-loaded luxury-esque model for the work-and-play market.And that’s the end of the market Ssangyong is pitching its recently face-lifted Actyon Sports Ute at.

Priced from a relatively low $37,782 (+ORC) it costs almost half as much as some of the vehicles it’s trying to steal buyers from.But, this ute has got one Achilles heel that we just can’t ignore and it’s one its competitors don’t have, and that’s its poor three-star ANCAP safety rating. See, you can make a vehicle as pretty as you like, as well equipped as you like, and as budget-friendly as you like, but if it scores poorly with ANCAP, and most of the Ssangyong Actyon’s competitors receive five-star ratings, well, you’re probably best off ignoring it.Indeed, as good as the Ssangyong Actyon Sports Ute is to drive, and it is quite good, we at Practical Motoring just can’t recommend anything with less than four stars. Of course, that might not put you off, so let’s look at what the Sports Ute does offer.

Editor's Rating

How we rated the Ssangyong Actyon Sports Ute 6.7
Ssangyong has successfully improved the look when compared with the old model, but just like the old model it’s totally let down by a poor drive experience (both on- and off-road). The Actyon SX Ute is well-equipped, but it’s poor safety rating of only three stars means, along with the Foton Tunland, it sits in our Can’t Recommend file.
6.7

DESIGN

Ssangyong hasn’t done that much to this vehicle other than change the nose and drop in a new engine borrowed from its stable mate, the Korando. While that might not sound like much of a change, the new nose has had a dramatic affect on the look of the Actyon Spots Ute.

The Ssangyong Actyon has only been slightly refreshed but it now looks more muscular than before.

Indeed, that new nose has given the front of the Ute a focussed and aggressive stance. This is enhanced by the wedge shape of the vehicle – its best angle is the front three-quarters. But move around to the rear three-quarters where nothing’s been changed, and it’s still quite an awkward looking vehicle. The tray is reasonably proportioned and the standard-fit tray liner is a nice addition.

BEHIND THE WHEEL

Ssangyong has gone to great effort to fill the Actyon Sports with all of the equipment you normally have to pay a lot more for in other dual-cab utes. The dash is neatly laid out with all of the buttons you’ll use most often, and they’re big and easy to access on the fly. But the location of certain switches, like seat heaters, should have been given more thought – during my time with the car I kept bumping them on and off with my left knee. And not just once, it was every single time.

The Ssangyong Actyon Sports' interior is a little hit and miss

ROOM & PRACTICALITY

The front seats are comfortable enough, but no matter how I adjusted them I just couldn’t shake the sensation of constantly sliding forwards off the seat. And they could have done with more under-thigh support to make long-haul journeys a little easier (read less fidgety after an hour behind the wheel). The back seats too could have done with some more attention in the refresh. Taller passengers will be cramped due to a lack of leg and foot room, and the upright nature of the seat back means you’d only want to be in the back for short trips.Vision right around thanks to big wing mirrors and the fact the bonnet falls away (although you can see its edges), even when negotiating tight tracks, is pretty good.

The Ssangyon Actyon's tray isn't the biggest in the business but it's pretty practical

Around at the back, the tray measures 1275mm (L) x 1600mm (W) x 525mm (H). Between the wheel arches, the tape measure shows 1120mm. That’s not too bad, but the carrying capacity of only 370kg (it’s less than 400kg across the range) is quite poor. The 2300kg towing capacity (maximum braked) is similarly off the pace with the Actyon’s competitors, which can all tow in excess of 2500kg, with some able to haul 3500kg. There are four tie-down points which seem sturdy enough.

PERFORMANCE

Underneath the reasonably shapely bonnet there’s a one-size fits all (each model grade gets the same engine with the same output) 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel (overseas markets have access to a petrol engine). It produces 114kW at 4000rpm and 360Nm of torque at 2800rpm. In our top-of-the tree Sports Ute there’s only one transmission on offer, and that’s a six-speed automatic (a five-speed manual is available on the entry-level model, the Tradie), and claimed fuel consumption is a reasonable 7.9L/100km.

It's the six-speed automatic transmission that makes the Ssangyong Actyon Sports Ute's engine feel frisky

There are plenty of utes in this segment with a lot more grunt than the Actyon Sports, but the engine does a reasonable job of keeping up with traffic and having enough in reserve for an overtake on a hill. Indeed, it’s probably down to the slickness of the six-speed auto (and 190Nm of torque from a low 1000rpm) that the Actyon seems so lively.

RIDE & HANDLING

The steering is light and totally feel-free and the ride is soggy on all but the smoothest of roads. Whether that lack of torsional rigidity is down to how the body has been mounted onto the chassis or the narrow nature of the vehicle was tricky to determine without pulling the whole thing apart.The Actyon’s shift-on-the-fly, part-time hi/low four-wheel drive system is foolproof, although doesn’t always engage first time, but it does endow it with impressive traction when in the rough stuff. We tested it at the same time as an Amarok 420TDI 4MOTION and it followed in that vehicle’s wheel tracks most of the time.

The Ssangyong Actyon Sports has low ground clearance and isn't that great off-road

But, where the Actyon Ute struggles off-road is in its lack of ground clearance (just 188mm while a Subaru XV has 220mm, for example) and the fact more than a few of its vital bits hang down waiting to be knocked off when clambering over rocks. Indeed, we were constantly bellying-out the Actyon on our off-road test course.And, if you’re on sand, be wary of that low ground clearance and the front suspension arms which hang down and can act like a grader blade pushing sand in front and eventually beaching the ute.

QUALITY

While the dash is wrapped in soft-touch plastic, the door linings are hard and scratchy. The fit and finish is reasonable and so the interior should hold up well to moderate abuse. There were certainly no squeaks or rattles in the dash after our day putting it through its paces off-road.

In the sand the Ssangyong Actyon Sports low-set front suspension arms can act like grader blades bogging it soft sand

Trawl the forums and you’ll find those who’ve driven their Ssangyong Actyon Sports out into the back of beyond and haven’t had a moment’s trouble with it, and then there are those who’ve driven around the corner and it’s all but fallen apart. So, while this new Actyon ute is better than its predecessor it pays to be very wary when approaching it, and if you’re considering it as a used buy, well, take a real good look underneath it; the front suspension arms hanging down and are susceptible to damage when driving off-road.But, all that said, the three-star ANCAP rating should be enough to scare you off this vehicle. Finger’s crossed the next-generation Actyon ute will achieve a five-star rating.

VALUE

Priced from $37,782 (+ORC) the Sports Ute gets, as standard, climate control with air quality system, electric windows, electric folding mirrors, head light levelling, Bluetooth and iPod connectivity with audio streaming, electric-adjustment for the driver’s seat, leather-wrapped tilt-only steering wheel, leather seats, 18-inch alloys, rear parking sensors, heated front seats, and a tray liner.

SAFETY

In terms of safety the Sports Ute gets the usual complement of active and passive safety features, including ESP, ABS with electronic brake force distribution, traction control, hill-start assist, and two airbags.But, with a three-star safety rating, no matter how good the rest of the vehicle is, well, we just can’t recommend you go out and buy it. Vote with your feet and ignore poor safety performing vehicles and manufacturers will be forced into improving them.

Find the best demonstrator car deals for Practical Motoring readers around Australia on our Live Deals website. 


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Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober