With a premium feel and basic mechanicals, the new Ssangyong Rexton RX6 is a practical choice for those who want the best of both worlds

Mahindra-owned SsangYong launched its Rexton SUV in India back in 2012. The Rexton was positioned as a flagship SUV above the XUV500 and a rival to the likes of the Toyota Fortuner.

When it was first launched, Mahindra offered the Rexton in two variants, both with the same basic 2.7-litre, five-cylinder engine, but in two different states of tune. The base RX5 variant, good for 162bhp and 34.7kgm of torque, was mated to a five-speed manual gearbox and a ‘Torque on Demand’ four-wheel-drive system. The fully-loaded RX7 version produced 184bhp and 41kgm, and came with permanent AWD and an automatic gearbox.

Apart from the mechanical differences, the RX7 came with a lot more features than the RX5, further justifying its price premium, although the base model was pretty decently equipped as well.

But despite its rich feature list, spacious cabin and upmarket interiors, the Rexton failed to set the sales charts ablaze. So, to try and give customers more of a choice with the Rexton, Mahindra has added a new mid-level RX6 trim.

The RX6 aims to deliver the best of both worlds – the features of the RX7 and the more basic mechanicals of the RX5 at a price that’s somewhere in between the two. With this variant, Mahindra appears to be targeting chauffeur-driven customers who would like all the creature comforts of a premium SUV but don’t care for an automatic.

The five-speed manual offers better driveability, by some margin, compared to the auto, although the gearshifts take a bit of effort to engage. The RX6 variant even comes with shift-on-the fly manual controls for the 4WD which, coupled with the manual gearbox, is a good option if you want to go off-road occasionally, although we doubt too many owners will try this.

On the inside, the Rexton’s cabin still looks fresh, despite the car having been on sale for close to two years. The leather seats are comfortable with soft cushioning, and soft-touch plastics on the interiors also give it an upmarket feel. The seats, however, are a bit low-set and this combined with the high-floor compromises the seating position to some extent for rear-seat occupants.

Like the RX7, the Rexton RX6 comes loaded with goodies such as a sunroof, touch-screen display with a DVD player and satellite navigation, rear parking sensors (but no reversing camera), a powered driver’s seat with memory, rain-sensing wipers and automatic headlamps.

The RX6’s 162bhp, five-cylinder diesel motor is a tad noisy, but power delivery is quite linear, so city driving isn’t too much of a chore. The steering, however, is way too light and could do with some feel.

The suspension setup is quite similar to its rivals – double wishbones in the front and a live axle at the rear. The Rexton is a bit too softly sprung, and though its high-profile tyres absorb bumps well at high speeds, it doesn’t feel as stable.

Safety kit on the RX6 includes front and side airbags, ABS, ESP, anti-roll protection and hill-descent control.

The Rexton hasn’t attracted too many buyers since its launch. It’s probably down to the fact that it lacks the road presence and brand value of the Fortuner and the Pajero Sport. But with this new, cheaper but fully-loaded RX6 variant, Mahindra wants to attract customers who can look beyond the badge and who prefer an SUV that simply offers a knockout value package.