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SsangYong Tivoli First Drive

SsangYong Tivoli

First drive The diesel-engined version of SsangYong’s spacious SUV offers better economy Verdict More efficient and more refined than the petrol Tivoli

SSANGYONG IS PINNING its hopes on the Tivoli to increase the firm's presence in Europe. With petrol and diesel options on offer, and some aggressive pricing, it is looking to double its UK sales this year.

When we tried the petrol version it proved to be a little coarse, a problem made worse by the fact that it needed to be worked hard to make swift progress. This is our first go in the diesel version, which commands a £1200 premium over the equivalent petrol model.

Flexible performance

On the road the diesel engine gives the Tivoli more low-end shove than the petrol version, with its peak power coming through lower down the rev range. However, this isn't a fast car, although it feels fairly quick around town, and flexible enough to keep up with motorway traffic.

The ride can be harsh, and isn't helped by the large 18in alloys -16in wheels are only available on the entry-level trim.

Refinement is an issue with the petrol variant and, while the diesel isn't perfect, it's definitely the more competent overall. It can still sound gruff under hard acceleration, though, and there is noticeable engine and road noise in the cabin. The steering is a little vague, too, although you can alter the weight via three different modes: Comfort, Normal and Sport. You can lighten the steering for town use, or in Sport, give it a more weighty feel.

Spacious and well equipped

The interior is surprisingly well finished and, although some of the plastics feel cheap, most are of good quality.

Entry-level SE trim brings 16in alloys, cruise control and Bluetooth, while mid-spec EX trim adds heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, a full leather interior, and a 7.0in touchscreen with reversing camera.

A further jump up to range-topping ELX gets keyless-go, front and rear parking sensors, sat-nav and automatic headlights.

The infotainment system is fiddly to use, but features such as MirrorLink technology - which allows you to control your smartphone via the touchscreen -will be attractive to buyers.

Undoubtedly the cabin's biggest asset is the fantastic amount of space. Its tall, boxy proportions allow for generous room for four tall passengers.

The boot’s 423-litre capacity is close to class-leading, but a big lip could make loading things into and out of it more difficult for some owners, and, while the rear seats can be folded down easily in a 60/40 split, it does leave a stepped load bay.

Worth considering

In manual guise, the Tivoli returns a claimed 65.7mpg and emits 113g/ km of C02, which isn't quite as good as the 1.5-litre Nissan Juke's 104g/km of C02 and claimed 70.6mpg. However, the Juke in mid-spec Acenta trim costs £2500 more than the equivalent Tivoli, while the cheaper Dacia Duster isn't nearly as well equipped. So a private or company car buyer after a small SUV with generous interior space should definitely consider this Tivoli. It may not be a class leader, but the diesel engine's economy and improved refinement and performance should certainly win it new buyers.

For more information on the SsangYong Tivoli click here

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