Thursday 8th September 2015
A LIDL CAR THATS WORTH TAKING SERIOUSLY
Not so very long ago the idea of buying a Korean car was as implausible as trading your weekly Waitrose shop for a little Lidl loving. How times have changed.
Kia and Hyundai are not so much emerging forces in Britain's new car market as established players, able to compete with - and often beat - European rivals on product, service or both. And now there's SsangYong. Actually that's misleading, because having been in business since 1954, SsangYong in fact predates it's Korean competitors, albeit mostly building obscure 4x4s bought primarily by farmers and caravanists for their lusty diesel engines and bargain basement prices.
While not a terrible strategy in itself, this does limit sales potential somewhat, which explains the arrival of the Tivoli, a small, angular SUV aimed squarely at the Nissan Juke and its ilk. And with it comes if not a wave of excitement, then certainly a ripple.
To kick things off, it looks OK, which is more of an achievement than it first sounds given SsangYong's back catalogue. There's a big boot, room for five adults and a raised driving position from which you get a good view of both the road outside and the inroads that have been made into interior quality, where the Tivoli stands comparison with its peers.
In terms of price, the newcomer falls between the Dacia Duster and Renault Captur, so one might reasonably expect it to be superior to the former but no match for the latter. In some areas, its actually better than that, and it's available with the full suite of petrol, diesel, front-wheel drive, four-wheel drive, manual or automatic. As for spec, there's SE and EX, but sadly no SEX. All are well equipped, but I'd say go for the diesel auto EX, which has enough pulling power to be satisfying, a smooth gearbox, a 7in touchscreen and leather seats.
Having said that , the £12,950 you'll pay for the entry-level 1.6 litre petrol version with a manual gearbox also represents terrific value, not least when you factor in the five-year warranty.
Excessive tyre noise aside, the Tivoli is not an unpleasant car to drive. Bland, perhaps, plus a bit bumpy in the suspension department and with snatchy brakes, but fundamentally it is much the same as its rivals, only usefully cheaper. And therein lies the truth of our middle-class shopping shift. Because while some might stick with the old guard for certain items (meat/free coffee/BMWs), so too have we realised that for humdrum essentials the budget rivals are just as good. And while the Tivoli might still reside at the cat food and loo roll end of the excitement spectrum, on such pragmatic choices contented lives are built.
Key point is, for the first time in 61 years, SsangYong has made it on to the shopping list.For more information on the SsangYong Tivoli please click here