London’s Royal College of Art is considered one of the world’s top automotive design schools, having been the training ground for many an accomplished designer including Ian Callum and Simon Cox. It was only natural then, that Ken Greenley, who headed the department of vehicle design at the London Royal College of Art in the Nineties, was involved in styling many cars of the time, some of his highly commended works being the Aston Martin Virage coupé and the 1991 Bentley Continental R, both of which he designed in association with his fellow RCA tutor John Heffernan. He also ran a consultancy, International Automotive Design, based in Worthing, southern England.
So when the Ssangyong Rodius arrived in 2004, the automobile industry was justifiably perplexed to learn that Greenley was behind the hideous lines of the minivan from Korean carmaker. Featuring right at the top in several “world’s ugliest car” polls, the Rodius was a large seven-seater with an atrocious face, and an even more peculiar and ungainly rear, with a weirdly angled roofline. Apparently, Greenley’s design objective was to capture the essence of a luxury yacht, but the resultant vehicle looked more like a large, mutated fish. It looked clumsy from almost every angle.
Underneath the awkwardness, the mechanicals were loaned from Mercedes-Benz, including a 3.2-litre six-cylinder petrol and a 2.7-litre five-cylinder diesel aimed at European markets. And thanks to its enormous dimensions, the cabin offered unrivalled practicality and flexibility. But the external gawkiness was too overpowering to see through, and the Mercedes DNA and practicality couldn’t help bolster sales, so the Rodius was withdrawn from most markets in 2011.