Like a tennis novice continually serving up under-hit lobs to Novak Djokovic, Ssangyong has been repeatedly smashed by car reviewers. Its pit of poorly built, unlovable sheds has seemingly been bottomless, the pleasure of slating them in print being just reward for having had to drive them in the first place. The Rodius in particular was comedically, epically bad. But today we sound a trumpet: the new Tivoli is a very good car indeed.
Pitched at the increasingly populous compact SUV market also titled at by Mazda’s CX-3, it offers absolutely loads of kit for very little cash, is fabulous inside, more than acceptable to drive and boasts a five-year unlimited mileage warranty.
As a value proposition the Tivoli is unarguable. Prices start at £12, 950, and no matter how far you run riot with the options you can’t spend more than £19, 500 (that’s a top-spec diesel with 4wd). We tested the 2wd £17, 000 ELX, powered by a rather shy 126bhp 1.6 petrol engine that’s absolutely fine for studied progress but crumbles like a biscuit when flummoxed by a heavy right foot. No matter. The ride is a little unpredictable but basically sound, the steering unusually hefty (especially in Sport mode) and the six-speed Aisin auto box understands how to soothe the torque-free engine.
The real magic, though, is inside. It’s roomy front and back, nicely made (although our Red Leather Pack is a bit noisy), has a fresh, modern design and includes climate control, touchscreen sat-nav, keyless go, colour-configurable instruments, stop/start… And you can use ‘My Tivoli’ to tickle up the colour palette, roof included, Mini-style.
Okay, if Ssangyong is your fave Korean car maker then you probably thought Zeppo was the best Marx brother, Ringo the best Beatle. So what? The Tivoli simply doesn’t feel like a budget car.
For more information on the SsangYong Tivoli, please click here