Ssangyong previews a new SUV that leaves a Jeep-like aftertaste

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South Korea-based Ssangyong Motors released sketches of an upcoming SUV called X200 that will usher in a new design language. While it’s surprisingly Jeep-like at first glance, it’s also inspired by the firm’s heritage.

Officially, the new design language is called “Powered by Toughness.” On the X200, it’s interpreted by round headlights with LED accents and a blacked-out grille with five diamond-shaped inserts. Big air intakes on either side of the front bumper and a skid plate-like piece of trim add a rugged touch to the look, while a boxy silhouette and squared-off body panels create a design that’s closer to an SUV than to a crossover. Of course, it’s difficult to judge a car by seeing a pair of sketches, and the version that ends up in showrooms could feature much softer lines.

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Jeep uses slats rather than diamonds, yet the X200’s front end has a trace of Wrangler-ness to it. That’s partly because Ssangyong started building the Jeep CJ-5 under license in its home country in November 1969, and the model evolved into the first-generation Korando in the early 1980s through a complicated latticework of joint ventures and bankruptcies. The second-generation Korando retained a handful of its predecessor’s styling cues, some of which are visible in the X200; the horizontal turn signals located on the front fenders, for example.

It’s unclear where Ssangyong will position the X200 in its range. It’s a new nameplate, so it might arrive as an addition to the portfolio rather th an a replacement for an existing model. It could give the firm an alternative to the Jeep Renegade

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. We have no reason to believe it’s a relatively big, body-on-frame model like the new Ford Bronco.

Ssangyong will fully unveil the X200 in the coming months. Nothing suggests the model will be sold in America. The firm floated plans to build and sell cars here in 2017, rumors even outlined a new factory in the Detroit area and a lineup made up largely of compact crossovers, but its American offensive was put on the back burner in 2019.

Jeep hasn’t commented on the sketches. We know it takes intellectual property seriously, it sued Ssangyong parent company Mahindra over the Roxor side-by-side’s grille design and won, but a mere resemblance might not be enough to warrant legal action. Besides, common heritage is what saved Hummer’s design language 20 years ago.

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