The Musso is one of the first 4x4 vehicles to look remotely sleek. The angle of the windscreen is raked back to give a purposeful, sporty image, at odds with the barn-door design of many of its rivals. The Ssangyong models are slightly bland around the grille area, a problem which the Daewoo badged cars have rectified handsomely. Parked next to a Nissan Patrol or Land Rover Discovery, the Musso looks a classier, more expensive piece of equipment, possibly even in the Range Rover or Toyota Land Cruiser bracket to the uninitiated.
In practical terms, the Musso also makes sense as long as you don't need space for seven. That's impossible due to the fact that, unlike many competitors, you don't get occasional seats in the luggage compartment. Still, there is ample head and legroom for five people. Another point worth making is that, at only 67.7 inches high, it's still able to scrape aboard `Le Shuttle` (unlike some other 4x4s), should you wish to venture across the Channel.
Another unusual feature is that the rear seat is set higher than those at the front. This novelty, copied from Korean executive cars unseen in Europe, was adopted to give rear passengers a better view. Other useful features include an intrusion-free 1120-litre, luggage compartment and split/folding rear seat.
You'll also find Daewoo Mussos well equipped with remote central locking, revised alloy wheels, anti-lock brakes, electronic traction control and semi-automatic air conditioning. These features are on top of the existing items carried over from the Ssangyong era: all-round electric windows, heated, electric mirrors, a leather-covered steering wheel, power steering, tinted glass, an engine immobiliser and an RDS stereo radio cassette player. More importantly perhaps, in Daewoo form, the Musso gets the marque's renowned comprehensive 'customer package'. This includes three years' free servicing, warranty and breakdown cover, making a nearly new Musso a safe and cost effective purchase.
The engines and gearboxes are proven items, and the ladder-framed chassis boasts good ground clearance, so the Musso won't cause any great concern in these areas. As with any vehicle that purports to offer serious off road capabilities, check the underbody for signs of damage. Concentrate on the suspension, exhaust and chassis, and make sure the steering and differential are still serviceable.
Inspect the wheelarch liners for rust-inducing punctures and ensure that the four-wheel drive selector works properly, as these 'shift on the fly' mechanisms are prone to accidental damage. Otherwise, the usual reminder to obtain a service history applies. Daewoo's excellent after sales service means that well-maintained models that still have free servicing and warranty will be around for some time, and these are definitely worth a look.
(Estimated prices, based on a 2.3) Offering low new prices, an attractive warranty and great equipment, the flaw in Daewoo's master plan comes in the form of rather pricey parts. A new starter motor for a Musso will relieve you of approximately £578. A new alternator will demand the sum of £390. A radiator is more reasonably priced at around £145, and a clutch assembly will be in the region of £165. Things begin to go a trifle pear-shaped with a £450 exhaust system and a £735 catalyst, whilst front brake pads won't give you any change from £100.
The Musso comes as standard with the high driving position and bulletproof feel that all good 4x4s engender. Despite being based on a proper off-road ladder chassis, the on-road ride is good. Coil sprung rear suspension gives a relatively composed ride, and stability feels good. There's none of the tilting, toppling and swaying that some 4x4 owners have become used to, that feeling that when the steering wheel is turned the upper and lower halves of the vehicle are going in opposite directions.
Reassuring anti-lock brakes are fitted as standard, and the front suspension resists dive quite well. The four-wheel drive selector takes the form of a simple dash-mounted button rather than an awkward lever, and this can be operated at speed of up to 43mph. Once off-road, the Musso is not as agile as its sister car, the Korando, as sheer bulk mitigates against its ultimate capability and ground clearance is not the greatest. Of the two Daewoo models, the diesel is the off-road choice, and the Ssangyong badged GX220 is a bit of a handful.
The Daewoo Musso represents a classy, non-mainstream choice for less than you may expect. Since Daewoo took over at the reins, the marketing proposition has improved immeasurably, but the basic underpinnings are ageing, so it's debatable whether many more will filter through to the used market.
Most buyers of medium-sized family 4x4s rarely venture off-road and many discover the added price and thirst of a big 4x4 an expensive irrelevance. With the Musso, even if you never use the off-road capability its still not much costlier than more traditional forms of carrying the family, such as the more popular MPVs. If you do choose to go off-road, think of it as a bonus. In a Musso, you'll have a good time finding out, though.