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Skiing for skinflints: Can a SsangYong match a Range Rover on a winter getaway?

 

If you’ve ever driven around the south-eastern corner of France in January, February and maybe March, you’ll probably have seen hordes of UK-registered Range Rovers swanning about at 20mph over the speed limit.

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Inside, these heavily laden beasts generally carry a group of middle-class, privately educated and often slightly inebriated toffs who think Val d’Isere would be rather a nice name for their third child.

There’s no doubt, though, that Rupert and Theodora chose well when they decided to drive to the Alps – ski flights always seem to leave at oh-my-God o’clock in the morning and tend to be full of drunken small-business owners from Blackburn who took up skiing because everyone else at t’ golf club did it and they felt left out.

Equally, there can be no doubt that they chose well when they decided to buy a Range Rover. Whatever the world throws at you, from blizzards to blind junctions and from rainforests to roadworks, the Range Rover will take it all in its stride. In many ways, it’s all the car you’ll ever need, and it’s unquestionably the perfect companion for your annual ski trip.

Range Rovers are, however, pricey – a new one will set you back at least £76,000 – so what do you do if you want to do it on the cheap?

Well, a small South Korean company called SsangYong thinks it can sell you the perfect car. The little-known brand calls itself the Korean Land Rover, and like the iconic British manufacturer, it only makes SUVs. Unlike Land Rover, though, SsangYong sells them at rock bottom prices.

Skiing for skinflints: Can a SsangYong match a Range Rover on a winter getaway? 

To find out whether this is a future phenomenon or a false economy, we took SsangYong’s latest car, the Tivoli XLV, skiing in the French Alps and then brought it back to Britain.

With a 1.6-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine, the Tivoli has less than half the power of the entry-level 3.0-litre Range Rover, but it still has lots of ground clearance, space in the back for equipment and, crucially, four-wheel drive. Even more crucially, our top-of-the-range car came with all the toys you’d expect from a premium car, but it only carried a bargain basement price tag. At £21,000, it was a massive £55,000 less than the Range Rover.

The starting point was the resort of Morzine, just south of Geneva, and the town itself was a stern test for the car, which was tasked with conveying people and equipment from our disappointingly remote chalet to the slopes. Happily, it managed the feat with ease.

 


 

 

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