New SsangYong concept gets 'Smart'

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By IOL Motoring Staff

SsangYong has always been the 'baby brother' of the Korean motor industry, best known in South Africa for the sticker across the rear window of its Musso SUV that read 'Powered by Mercedes-Benz'. Despite its Stuttgart connection, Ssangyong has never been shy to explore the outer reaches of automotive styling, as witness the earlier versions of the Korando and Actyon.

Since their tie-up with India's Mahindra, however, the company has gone considerably more mainstream; its design language has become at once more conservative and more Eurocentric, and a strong focus on build quality and luxury trim have moved its products a notch or two upmarket.

Conservative doesn't mean stagnant, however, as shown by the two teaser images you see here of a concept called the Smart Interface Vehicle, or SIV-1, which is poised to rattle a few cages at the upcoming Geneva motor show.

SsangYong describes it as a mid-premium crossover although, at only 4500mm long, 1640mm wide and 1880mm high, it's quite small by premium crossover standards. SsangYong has released absolutely no drivetrain details beyond saying that the concept has a “Mobile Auto System” - probably SsanYongspeak for a constantly variable transmission.

BRAWNY DIESELS

Given both brands' preference for brawny diesels, however, we'd expect to see either a 2.2-litre four with variable geometry turbo, as in the Mahindra XUV500, or the even more muscular 2.7-litre turbodiesel out of the current Rexton.

The rather cryptic designation SIV almost certainly refers to that aspect of auto development where Indian and Korean technology leads the world - electronics - and we'd expect to see a touchscreen for each the of the four independent bucket seats (or maybe Bluetooth connectivity for four iPads), allowing each occupant to tailor the climate control, sound level and tone quality for his comfort zone while surfing the net and e-mailing.

We note again with concern that, with the honourable exception of certain Italian brands, most concepts seem to focus on taking the driver's attention off the road. If this is the way automotive design is going, the day is fast approaching when our family cars will drive themselves simply because they have to; their drivers will be too busy playing computer games.

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