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Living with a SsangYong Tivoli

First Report: smart new supermini crossover is a positive start to our fleet.

The first car I drove as an Auto Express journalist was a 2011 SsangYong Korando ELX. Back then, the South Korean brand was a relative newbie in the UK car market. It had just a handful of dealers and an even smaller model line-up. But four years and several new cars later, it should be an established player, right?

Not quite – SsangYong has sold just over 3,000 cars in 2015. While that’s a 114 percent increase year-on-year, it’s some way behind the 97,000 Peugeots that have found new homes, or the 312,000 models that Ford dealers have shifted since January.

But when we were offered a Tivoli to run on our fleet, we jumped at the chance. It’s a game-changing model from the reinvented brand, and one that bosses want to capitalise on the ever-growing supermini-crossover market – spearheaded in recent years by cars like the Nissan Juke and Renault Captur. SsangYong is hoping it will help boost total sales to 5,000 in 2016, with that figure doubling in the next three years.

On paper, that seems entirely feasible. Our car is the all-singing, all-dancing, top-spec ELX model – the top seller in the range. It costs just £17,250 and comes loaded with kit. Keyless go, 18-inch alloys, auto lights and wipers and tinted rear windows are all standard. It also gets a seven-inch touchscreen with Tom-Tom sat-nav, plus heated leather seats and dual-zone climate control from the mid-range EX.

In fact, this flagship model is such good value that the sales team at Horsham Car Centre in West Sussex haven’t yet sold a single lesser-specced Tivoli. We picked our car up earlier this month, and were greeted by boss John Pudney and sales executive Dean Stogdon. On a wet and windy Monday morning, it seemed little could dampen their spirits as they talked me through all the features we could find on our new Tivoli.

As they rattled through the spec sheet, it quickly became clear how much time and thought the Koreans had put into this hugely important car. Stogdon pointed out items like the customisable dials and centre console with iPad holder, plus the heated leather seats and space-saver spare wheel – features you just don’t see on similarly priced rivals.

On the open road, the SsangYong feels strong and stable, and the 1.6 diesel is the engine to go for. There is a petrol option, yet that’s a little underpowered. 

 

LIVING WITH A SSANGYONG TIVOLI

Our car feels punchy when you put your foot down in third gear, although less revs result in a type of lag rarely associated with modern diesels. It is frugal though – we’re managing close to 50mpg on steady motorway journeys.

Elsewhere, the 18-inch alloy wheels and firm suspension result in a slightly harsh ride, and the lack of reach adjustment in the steering column is proving a little frustrating for one or two of my colleagues. You do get used to the driving position, however, and it would be very harsh to call the car uncomfortable. Interior quality isn’t quite up to VW standards, but, then again, neither are the great-value list prices.

It’s not the most desirable car around, but the Tivoli is a stylish and roomy supermini-crossover with heaps of kit – and it’s cheaper than a top-spec Ford Fiesta. There’s a five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty, too, which will be a big selling point for many buyers.

Essentials

SsangYong Tivoli 1.6D ELX 2WD

On fleet since: November 2015

Price new: £17,250

Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, diesel, 113bhp

CO2/tax: 113g/km/£30

Options: Style pack (£400)

Insurance*: Group: 19     Quote: £318

Mileage/mpg: 3,597/46.0 mpg

Any problems? None so far

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

We Like

ELX model comes with loads of goodies, including 18-inch alloy wheels. Black roof and rims are part of £400 Style Pack. Rear space is decent, too.

We Don’t

Touchscreen is a pain to navigate. Top-of-the-range cars come with sat-nav and Bluetooth streaming, but changing the clock is a chore.

 

Practicality: Boot. 423/1,115 litres

CO2/tax: 113g/km. £30 or 20%

Running costs: 46.0 mpg (on test). £51 fill-up

Click here to request a brochure

Auto Express Verdict

Initial impressions of the Tivoli are good and are Definitely helped by the enthusiasm of SsangYong’s dealers. The model itself feels well built, plus it’s loaded with kit for the price. And, while it’s not the most refined or dynamic car around, there’s a no-nonsense feel to it.  

Second Opinion

‘‘The Tivoli is definitely a step in the right direction for SsangYong, and it feels like it’s built to last. Even better is the fact that this is one of the few small crossovers that you can have with proper four-wheel-drive. While the system is fully automatic, you can lock the differentials to improve traction when the going gets tough.’’ James Disdale, Road Test Editor.

For more information on the SsangYong Tivoli click here

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