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Road Test: SsangYong Tivoli 1.6-litre diesel ELX

It’s true that SsangYong isn’t a brand well known here in the UK. In fact, the first thing my family said when I pulled onto the drive in the new Tivoli was: “what is that?”

But the firm believes its new SUV will be the car to change all that, and we’ve been driving it with its sole diesel engine in top-of-the-range trim to find out if it's worth considering as your next new car.

Cheap price tag

The Tivoli is one of the cheapest SUVs you can buy at the moment with a starting price of just £12,950. Our test car sits right at the top of the range and costs £17,250, which is still very cheap when you consider the amount of kit on offer here - and let us not forget about that five-year unlimited-mileage warranty.

In ELX trim the car comes equipped with a seven-inch touchscreen system with sat-nav and reversing camera, dual-zone climate control, 18-inch alloys, tinted rear windows, keyless entry and start, parking sensors, leather upholstery, heated front seats, automatic lights and wipers, Bluetooth and LED lights all as standard.

The only extra fitted to our test car is the metallic Techno Grey paintwork which costs an additional £500.

That’s a lot of kit for your money, but it’s not all a glowing report; no DAB Radio as standard is disappointing, the USB wouldn’t work on test and the dual-zone air con didn't react quickly enough either. On the plus side the cruise control impressed and the keyless entry and reversing camera were particular highlights.

Considering its cheap price tag, the quality of the materials used around the cabin is very good indeed and a huge leap forward when compared to other models in the range. The centre console is simple to navigate around and control too, plus the black gloss inserts help bling the cabin up a bit.

New diesel engine

Under the bonnet of our test car is a new 1.6-litre diesel engine with 113bhp and 300Nm of torque.

Although not the most exciting of drives, the engine is quick off the mark and feels more powerful than the 12 second 0-62mph time indicates. It sounds pretty utilitarian though and there’s a fair amount of bodyroll produced in the corners too.

Running costs is where the car impresses most, with a combined fuel economy of 65.7mpg and CO2 emissions of 113g/km, significantly improving on the petrol engine figures. On test we managed to achieve around 45mpg on a variety of different trips.

Mated to the engine is a well-judged six-speed manual, and the smart steering system fitted on our test car, which allows you to preset three different programs - Normal, Comfort and Sport - leaves the steering feeling unbalanced at times and all modes lack feedback. The ride quality, although good on the motorway, can be a little bouncy on country lanes too - and there’s a fair amount of wind and road noise intruding into the cabin.

Quirky features

So, on the road the Tivoli is functional rather than fun. In the cabin however there are lots of features which are bound to produce a smile.  

For example there’s a (somewhat cheesy) welcome tone when you open the driver’s door.

Inside the Tivoli is comfortable and spacious, the large leather seats are supportive and head- and leg-room overall is excellent.  There’s also plenty of useful cubbies littered around the cabin for those in the front and back including door bins big enough for a litre bottle of drink and a useful storage compartment above the glovebox.

Space in the boot eclipses many of its rivals at 423 litres, plus there are hooks to secure more fragile bags and a light and power socket too.

Verdict

It’s a car you cannot help but like and the price presents excellent value for money, but there are flaws to consider.

Although its headline figures are significantly better than the petrol, we think you’ll have to drive a lot of miles each year for this diesel engine to make financial sense, especially since petrol choices are more refined and £1,250 cheaper.

For more information on the SsangYong Tivoli please click here

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