There are few things that all petrolheads will agree on unanimously, but one of those rare topics is that the first generation SsangYong Rodius is perhaps the ugliest car in the world. The Rodius was a people carrier designed to “capture the essence of a luxury yacht”, so clearly it was time for Top Gear to take things a step further.
Writing for Boat International, part-time Top Gear presenter Eddie Jordan says the so-called SsangYacht is “the worst thing to happen to boating since the iceberg,” after it was revealed in Monaco to a background of fireworks. “It took three months of work to bond car to hull, but very little thought had gone into how a boat is used on the water,” he says.
The three main Top Gear presenters, Matt LeBlanc, Chris Harris and Rory Reid, claim they wanted to ‘shake up the stuffy, staid world of luxury yachting’ – and suggest to have achieved this by decking out the interior of the SsangYacht with what they described as “superyacht features”. These include a fish tank, which slides out on a gurney with every wave that slaps the hull, encountering the shins of anyone sitting in the saloon. There is a keyboard opposite, hidden beneath one of the bench seats, so when in use the number of usable seats is halved. Further down the cabin, the TV rises by way of rope and pulley, to rest dangerously on the cabinetry.
Unfortunately, things don’t improve once you reach the helm. The ugly Rodius dash remains unmodified, aside from a bunch of off-centre dials which have been added. Throttles have been added to the centre console, though Jordan suggests they’re “too far down to your left, making fine adjustments problematic,” and when the bonnet is up — to give light and air to the cabin below — visibility forward is cut in half.
Perhaps these minor design flaws could be overlooked, however, if the boat actually performed well – but seeing as it is essentially a Sunseeker Hawk 27 with a Ssangyong Rodius sitting on top, things aren’t looking good. “Take a book to read when you pin the throttles — I’ve seen people climb Everest quicker than it takes this thing to get over the hump,” Jordan says. “And go easy in the turns. Fortunately, the Mediterranean is a millpond for our sea trial; any kind of weather would send the SsangYacht straight to the bottom with a few expensive TV presenters inside it. It is, quite simply, the worst ‘boat’ I’ve ever been on.”
Top Gear’s SsangYacht will be featured in the seventh and final episode of Top Gear Series 24, which will air this Sunday on BBC2.