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Fully-fledged contender

Will the new Tivoli finally win over the SsangYong sceptics?

SsangYong has tried hard to win customers, it has been keen to get motorists behind the wheel of its cars. Incentives such as unlimited mileage warranties. Low buying costs and attractive service plans may have helped. On the other hand cruel residual values have to be considered, unusual styling and the badge vanity factor that perceives SsangYong as one that even lots of the Joneses have spurned.

Now SsangYong has hatched its new chick and it is called the Tivoli. It is the smallest SsangYong to come to Scotland and it falls into line with the likes of the Mazda CX-3 and Renault Captur. The Tivoli has its styling moments and shapely wheel arches. It’s not unlike the Kia Soul at the front and there is a measure of the Nissan Juke in there too.

If you quite like what you see on the outside, its passenger cabin will not disappoint. It has sufficient buttons and switches to give the impression that you are getting a lot of car for your money. Some premium brands get away with swatches of black across the dash-board and doors but try this in a car such as the Tivoli that’s trying to make an impression and it will be branded cheap and nasty.

The Tivoli’s dashboard is an interesting medley of plastics from shiny piano black with occasional silver plastic inserts. A two-tone effect in door panels and seats and across the fascia gives it an interesting appeal. Soft leather seats, a chunky multi-function steering wheel and a seven-inch touch-screen, admittedly on mid to top specification Tivolis, give it features that are not prescribed at this price level.

One other excellent and important aspect about the passenger cabin is its space. There’s good room for all passengers, especially in the front two. The boot has 423 litres of space, which puts it among the leaders in its segment.

I have an overriding desire to shout out the price of this car. It is a factor that should not be muted. The Tivoli comes in three levels of trim, SE, EX and ELX and it also comes with a choice of either a 1.6-litre petrol engine or 1.6-litre diesel engine. All you really need to know after this is that there is an automatic and also a 4x4 model.

Starting price is £12,950 for the petrol car with a £1250 price step if you want the cheapest diesel. Most people are likely to go for the EX (£14,600) or ELX (£16,000) models that offer more equipment.

Powering the Tivoli are new engines developed by SsangYong’s parent company, Mahindra. At the time of driving, the diesel model had not arrived and this may be a more interesting proposition.

The petrol unit has an output of 128p, it is absolutely competent in delivering a calm drive and it is decently quiet until it reaches the top-end of its rev range. It is lacking the added pep, the punch that comes from smaller turbocharged engines and this may put off some potential customers who will feel its throttle response could be better.

The six-speed manual gearbox shifts well and does not reveal and glitches while the automatic is overall a good performer and in ideal companion if driving in the city. A “smart steer” system give drivers the choice of three settings, normal, comfort or sport, from its electronic steering system but there’s not a lot of difference. Best of all is its tight turning circle.

One aspect that I would see as a positive for SsangYong is that many of its new dealerships are in the custodianship of respected and experienced people that have built up a good reputation in the motor trade.

I cannot imagine for one minute that they would be associated with inferior products. And if I buy a car from someone that tells me I can go to the moon and back without it affecting my warranty, I have to be impressed or at least interested.

Drive Facts

Make: SsangYong

Model: Tivoli EX petrol

How much: £14,600

How fast: 106mph

0-62mph: 12 seconds

Economy: 44.1mpg, combined

Emissions: 149g/km

For more information on the SsangYong Tivoli please click here

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