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The SsangYong Tivoli has been a fixture at Auto Express for six months, but now it’s time for the compact crossover to leave our fleet. This gives us the perfect opportunity to reflect on the car tasked with changing the Korean brand’s fortunes in the UK.

Overall, we’ve enjoyed running the SsangYong. With its mix of space, value, and standard kit, it’s proven a popular choice among our staff. However, there’s one thing that’s bugged me the more time I’ve spent with it: the din of its diesel engine.

It’s not so much the volume of the noise (there are louder diesels); it’s more the tone. In lower gears and under load, the 1.6-litre unit has a grating, coarse drone right up the rev range. It’s so unpleasant at times that you find yourself accelerating hard, just to make the noise go away quicker.

Fortunately, once you’re cruising, the engine settles down to a distant murmur, and is rarely intrusive on the motorway, but a bit more sound insulation under the bonnet would make things less irritating. It’s a shame, because in most other respects, this is a competitive engine. It’s a punchy performer, plus we’ve also averaged around 45mpg over six months, despite a demanding mix of Central London traffic and motorway journeys.

It’s telling, too, that the diesel drone is our only real complaint after nearly 8,000 miles with the car. We’ve talked about how SsangYong has entered an extremely competitive sector with the Tivoli, and the product seems to be up to the job.

Inside, despite concerns about a few cheap materials, the Tivoli has stood up well to the demanding needs of various staff members. The cabin feels solid after months of hard use, with only minor problems arising, like the flimsy string map-holders on the seatbacks falling off occasionally. Everything on the generous kit list has been faultless – particularly the infotainment screen that’s remained slick, clear and easy to operate. We’re also impressed by the lack of any rattles or squeaks around the Tivoli’s cabin.



Initially, the crossover’s suspension tuning left a little to be desired, with the 18-inch alloys picking up most potholes and bumps, and crashing about a bit in town. This seems to have softened up as we’ve piled on the miles, but road noise remains the biggest issue. Still, the upshot is composed and reasonably agile handling.

What’s made the Tivoli stand out as a popular daily driver among the team is the space on offer. I’ve carried large adults in the back on a few long journeys with no complaints, and three can sit fairly comfortably, thanks to the lack of a transmission tunnel. The boot is a good size, too, despite its high loading lip.

It seems that SsangYong has succeeded with its crossover, then. If you’re in the market for a bargain-priced, well-equipped, distinctively styled and practical family runaround, look no further than the Tivoli. Just don’t forget your ear plugs...


Practicality: Boot (seats up/down): 423/1,115 litres

Running Costs: 44.7mpg (on test). £52 fill-up


SsangYong Tivoli 1.6D ELX 2WD

On fleet since: November 2015

Price new: £17,250

Engine/torque:1.6-litre,4cyl turbodiesel.113bhp

CO₂/tax: 113g/km/£30

Options: Style pack (£400)

Insurance*: Group: 19 Quote £318

Maileage/mpg: 7,950/44.7mpg

Any problems: None so far

*Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.




Second Opinion

‘‘The Tivoli isn’t short of space, but that hasn’t stopped SsangYong launching the XLV – an estate version complete with a bigger boot. It will rival models such as the Renault Kadjar, yet is set to cost just £1,000 more than the standard car.’’ Dean Gibson, Deputy Road Test Editor

We Like

Tivoli comes packed with equipment as standard, including the clear an dintuitive touchscreen that controls sat-nav and infotainment systems.

We Don’t

Interior is spacious, but lack of reach adjustment on steering column means that taller drivers will struggle to get comfy. Some materials feel cheap, too.


Our time with the SsangYong has been a bit of an eye opener. We didn’t expect to like it as much as we have, but it’s clear the Tivoli is the most capable, desirable and best value model the brand has ever built. It’s not perfect, due to the rattly diesel, but this car is proof that SsangYong is ready to shake off its bargain-basement image.

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