- Great value
- Lots of equipment
- Distinctive looks
- Appearance might be divisive
- Not the most engaging drive
- Refinement can be an issue
Engine Power - 123 BHP
0-60 - 12 Seconds
MPG EC Combined - 44.1MPG
Co2 - 149g/km
The Tivoli marks an important change of direction for SsangYong, and one on which its hopes of finally cracking into the British market are almost completely resting.
Having typically had difficulty appealing to buyers in this part of the world, the Korean firm has modified its approach by moving away from its traditional large SUVs and instead focusing on something that will appeal more to European buyers.
Cranking up the sex appeal with a sleek design, large alloy wheels and a floating roof, the Tivoli is a bold B-segment crossover that’s a far cry from some of its boxier predecessors.
Only two engines are available with the Tivoli, a 1.6-litre petrol and a 1.6-litre turbodiesel, which will come as good news to anybody who likes to keep their choices simple. Both also come with the option of either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic gearbox.
Outputs clock in at 126bhp for the petrol, while the diesel is slightly less powerful with 113bhp, though it boasts 300Nm of torque compared to 160Nm with the petrol option for more pulling power.
The diesel is also the more frugal of the two and is expected to be the best-seller with a combined economy figure of 65.7mpg with as little as 113g/km of CO2 with the manual gearbox. While the petrol engine is slightly less economical, it still delivers up to 52.3mpg with CO2 emissions from 149g/km.
We tested the Tivoli with the diesel engine and automatic gearbox, which offers plenty of punch at the low-end. While it’s not fast by any means, and is prone to a bit of noise in the higher rev bands, it’s got enough poke for the motorway and overall offers a smooth power delivery that’s well suited to everyday use.
The automatic gearbox does at times seem slightly unsure of itself, but overall the Tivoli offers an entirely competent, if uninspiring drive.
Ride and Handling 3/5
It makes sense, then, that SsangYong has engineered the Tivoli obviously more for comfort than performance. Decent suspension eats up the most of what the road can throw at it, but can get a little clattery over bumps, particularly with the 18-inch alloys that are standard on every model except the entry-level SE trim.
That said, the optional four-wheel drive on our test model keeps the car relatively composed in the corners and there’s not as much body roll as you might expect, but it still has a long way to go if it wants to be as nimble as rivals like the Skoda Yeti.
Steering isn’t the most responsive around, but a choice of three selectable steering modes - Comfort, Normal and Sport – allow you to weight it up and then lighten it again to help with navigating tight city spaces and parking.
Interior and Equipment 4/5
Smart and attractive, SsangYong has clearly taken a leaf out of the books of its rivals when designing its interior, which sports a well-laid out dash and seven-inch touchscreen on all except the entry-level model.
The plastics on the top of the dashboard might seem a little bit of a let-down compared to the nifty design of the rest of the cabin, but it’s nothing that would keep you awake at night. Standard kit across the range is comprehensive, with even the basic SE trim getting cruise control, 16-inch alloys and keyless entry, plus a flat-bottomed steering wheel and air conditioning.
Mid-level EX models get dual-zone air con, plus larger 18-inch alloys and heated front seats, along with the seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system and a rear view camera. Finally, the range-topping ELX gets all of that, plus a smart instrument cluster, front and rear parking sensors, automatic lights and wipers and a rear spoiler.
Passengers can ride comfortably with plenty of leg and headroom despite the Tivoli’s relatively small dimensions compared to the rest of SsangYong’s range, while all models apart from the SE get full leather upholstery too.
Finally, the boot holds a respectable 423 litres with the 60:40 split rear seats folded up, while buyers can also specify an optional split-level boot floor. It doesn’t hold as much as a Renault Captur, but there’s still plenty of space for the majority of drivers.
Easily one of the most attractive features of the SsangYong Tivoli is its price. With the entry-level SE trim starting from just £12,950 it offers a lot more than rivals like the Nissan Juke for considerably less money – almost £1,000 in the Juke’s case.
Even the range-topping ELX model, with its wide equipment list and full leather interior, starts from only £17,000, while low running costs and an unlimited five-year warranty across the range only serves to sweeten the deal further.
Optional packages, which add features like coloured leather seats and black diamond-cut wheels are available for an extra cost, but even a fully tricked-out Tivoli could work out a lot cheaper than the mid-range options for some of its rivals.
Our Verdict 3.5/5
The smallest SsangYong yet, it’s also the first model that buyers might be interested in purely thanks to its looks alone. Add in a wide range of equipment and keen pricing and the Tivoli should be a recipe for success.
Its main problem is that it’s entering a segment which is one of the most hotly-contested in the entire market. Luckily though, it’s a market which is continually growing, and there’s always room for good-looking and keenly-priced newcomers.
While it still has some way to go in order to be as good as some of its direct competitors, in the Tivoli SsangYong has finally created a European-style car that could genuinely appeal to Europeans. So long as you’re not too bothered about whether or not the neighbours can pronounce its name, that is.
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