Sunday 17th January 2016
SSANGYONG TIVOLI: CAR REVIEW
Top speed: 106mph
0-62mph: 12 seconds
The Tivoli is attractive and dizzyingly good value, but has SsangYong done enough to make you fall for it?
Someone optimistic has noticed that if you spell the word Tivoli backwards you get Ilovit, and they’ve put a TIVOLI ILOVIT sticker on the back of this car. That’s a reach for a SsangYong (which is Gnoygnass backwards). You aren’t going to loveits latest model, but there’s every chance you’ll really like it.
The Tivoli is a proper game changer for SsangYong. The South Korean company has been churning out anonymous vehicles since 1954 and if adjectives like “cheap”, “large” and “boxy” didn’t feature on your dream car list, you probably overlooked the brand. But the Tivoli is different. In fact, it’s probably the first SsangYong you’d buy without justifying your purchase by pointing out how cheap, large and boxy it is.
It’s also one of the reasons why the Indian company Mahindra & Mahindra decided to buy the whole of SsangYong a year ago. Back then this model was called the X100, which doesn’t work as well backwards.
The Tivoli is a compact SUV. It’s great looking with strong curves and a nicely rounded clamshell bonnet. Squint at the front and it has a hint of Range Rover’s Evoque about it, but that’s probably where the similarity ends. The car is an incredibly user-friendly size. You can easily fit three adults across the back seat which you can’t always do in many cars from this class, and the boot is much deeper than you have any right to expect. The high roofline gives you tons of headroom and you sit slightly higher than you would in most cars, so you have a good vantage point from which to survey the road ahead.
SsangYong has worked hard to make the car likable. When you hop in it makes a little hello noise and the word “Welcome” glows in the centre of the dashboard. “Isn’t that friendly?” I said to my wife. “It’s awful,” she replied. I suppose being friendly doesn’t always mean you make friends. She did, however, rave about the satnav, which was unexpected to say the least. The top-spec ELX model comes with an integrated TomTom system which for my money is the best satnav you can buy. It surprised us with new routes all week. The screen doubles as a crystal-clear reversing camera, which I found a real neck saver. Juliet was so-so about that, but then she’s pretty gung-ho when it comes to parking. The interior is well thought out with little cubbies just where you want them. The leather seats on the top spec models are quite plush – plush is not a word used often enough over at SsangYong.
There’s a choice of a 1.6-litre petrol or diesel engine, and you can choose from a manual or automatic and a two- or four-wheel drive. I tested the diesel, which took a little getting used to. It is so eager it’s almost indecent, but once warmed up it’s a brusque and hardworking companion.
SsangYong clearly believes in its new baby and has blessed its Tivoli with a five-year, unlimited mileage warranty. That compares to the four years you get from Renault on its Captur, and the three years you get with Nissan on its Juke.
So, it’s all change at SsangYong, but one thing has stayed the same. The prices are still bonkers. And at £12,996, you’ll be happy to boast about the Tivoli to anyone.
For more information on the SsangYong Tivoli please click here