It is more than a little ironic to think of a carmaker that traces its roots back more than half a century as “the new kid on the block,” but that is the overriding impression when one slips behind the wheel of one of the latest offerings of South Korea’s SsangYong Motor. When I was offered a test drive of SsangYong’s newest compact SUV, the Tivoli, a couple of weeks ago, I have to admit I was a little skeptical. Having spent the best years of my life dealing with BMW, taking the helm of a vehicle from a company that is best known in the West for the somewhat unfortunate Musso—the result of a partnership with Mercedes-Benz—I was mentally prepared for some disappointment. I was pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong in the end, but based on the company’s history, my skepticism wasn’t entirely unwarranted from the outset. Founded in 1963 as the Ha Dong-hwan Motor Co.—the result of a merger of two older Korean companies—the firm didn’t get into the passenger-car business until the mid-1970s, when it changed its name to Dong-A Motor, eventually being taken over by the SsangYong Group (the name means “double dragons” in Korean)… Read full this story
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