Diesel-hybrid SsangYong Kyron SUV

SsangYong, the maker of extra-ugly cars and SUVs that has for years been torturing us with their bombastic, deliberately exaggerated (but in a bad, lack-of-good-taste exaggerated kind of way) vehicles that were seemingly designed for the Asian market, but still somehow managed to find their way to other regions, is going to drop a bomb on us. Possibly trying to impress prospective investors that may help the struggling company survive the ongoing economic turmoil, SsangYong plans to present a diesel-hybrid-powered version of its old Kyron mid-size SUV.

I’ve been waiting for a SUV like that for the last couple of years. I mean, who needs a gasoline-powered hybrid, when you can get much, much better mileage when combining a fuel-sipping inline-four diesel engine with an electric motor?

Diesel-hybrid SsangYong Kyron to be revealed in Seoul
SsangYong Kyron

With such a powerplant, a car-based SUV like, say, current Hyundai Santa Fe can get up to 7.0, may be even 6.0 l/100km in a city cycle!

Well, it looks like the Koreans are going to soon start selling such an SUV. Planned to be officially revealed in Seoul by the end of April 2009, the SUV will offer at least 25 percent increase in fuel efficiency.

Unfortunately, the company doesn’t elaborate on what kind of engine will be used in the hybrid vehicle, but if it is a 2.0-liter four-banger currently powering the M200 2.0 Xdi model, than its city cycle fuel economy may go up to 7 l/100km (33.6 mpg) making the car both greener and cheaper to drive.

And it will be more agile, too!

Hope, we will see something like this for the next-generation 2011 Porsche Cayenne Diesel. Considering Porsche’s engineering prowess, it will be a real asphalt-burner with solid green credentials.

So far, the Kyron competes only against the hybrid-powered Toyota RAV4, and Nissan X-Trail. Soon, there will also be a torrent of both car- and truck-based SUVs equipped with hybrid drives, but most of them will be motivated with gasoline-electric powerplants.

UPDATED: Still, now that I think of it, I have an impression that the concept might be royally flawed right in its core. You see, hybrids were originally designed for American (and primarily Californian and other “green states”) market that are not especially fond of the way diesel-powered vehicles tend to pollute air with fine particles and other substances that are quite eager to get you killed at least twenty year before your natural power reserve runs dry. While pairing a diesel engine with an auxiliary electric motor may sound as a good idea in terms of fuel economy, I don’t really believe that the hybrid of this sort will be able to squeeze through the tight keyhole of California emission standards and if you can’t sell you car in California, you may as well not offer it for the North American market at all.

Suffering from high fuel taxes, the European customers are less sensitive about the deadly qualities of heavy fuel, but history tells us that they prefer to save their Euros and other local currencies that still exist with something as obvious as a smaller car that is more energy efficient than a Toyota Prius and, what’s even more important, is at least twice less expensive even after all the taxes that come with it. So, this leaves SsangYong with nothing more than Korean and Chinese markets and Korea seems to be not large enough to justify production and the Chinese still don’t care much about air pollution. Well, I can only wish them luck, they are going to need it.

Photo: SsangYong

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