SsangYong isn’t the best known name on Britain’s roads, but its latest model may be about to win the car maker new friends.
The brand, which has been making 4x4’s for years, has dipped its toes into a new sector of the market with the Tivoli, a value for money entry into the burgeoning B-segment SUV market. It’s a growth sector worldwide and particularly in Western Europe with new models such as the Mazda CX-3 and the Fiat 500X joining the scramble for sales this year. Smaller than the company’s revamped Korando, it shares its bigger brother’s core philosophy: offering a high specification, economical SUV at a price where rival ranges start. You can buy a Tivoli, depending on trim and your choice of petrol or diesel option, from between £12,950 and £19,500. At present there are only two-wheel drive versions in the UK, but the 4x4 models will be here by the end of the year.
The test car was he well equipped ELX manual, powered by a punchy yet economical 1.6-litre diesel. This new engine turns out 115PS of power and hefty (for its size) 300Nm of Torque, all of which is available from just 1,500rpm. It’s a lot for a B-segment sized car, so pulls strongly almost from the word go and all the way through the gears. Its vital statistics are 0-62mph in under 12 seconds, an average of almost 66mpg and a low 113g/km CO2 rating – the sort of figures to appeal to potential buyers looking for a new SUV whose running costs won’t break the bank. It is the only thing ‘cheap’ about the Tivoli tested, as its interior has a classy, upmarket feel and is well equipped.
It starts with a pair of supportive and comfortable leather sports-style seats for the driver and front passenger, with enough room in the back that even six-footers won’t feel cramped – the Tivoli is on of the widest cars in its class. The D-shaped sports steering wheel is leather clad and heated, adding to the premium feel.
The trim appears well-finished, particularly around the centre console and controls, and includes a seven inch touch-screen with satnav, often an extra on some of its competitors. The screen also doubles as the reversing camera screen and control centre for the six-speaker audio system, with its RDS radio plus Bluetooth and iPod connectivity.
Dual-zone climate control, automatic headlamps and wipers, heated front seats, front and rear parking sensors and cruise control are among the items which help to elevate the Tivoli up a class or two in value for money terms.
SsangYong has taken a slightly different road to some of its rivals, too: instead of looking like a bigger, taller version of a family hatchback, it does actually look like a modern 4x4. You still get all the advantages of a commanding view and seat hip height which makes access easy.
On the ELX the 18in diamond cut wheels may not be ideal for off-roading (you wouldn’t want to risk scuffs and scratches), but they certainly look the part in the high street especially with the big 215/45 tyres. Safety is well-catered for, beginning with its rigid monocoque construction which also means light weight and translates into sure, precise handling. Plus there are seven airbags and the now standard features such as stability, emergency brake and hill start assist systems are supplemented by an active rollover protection system, speed-sensitive automatic door locking and hazard warning lights, which automatically activate if you have to do an emergency stop. The brakes are discs all round (ventilated at the front) with four channel ABS.
The boot space of 423 litres is large for the class, and naturally split-fold rear seats add flexibility for different passenger/cargo combinations.
The 1.6 diesel gives plenty of relaxed performance for most drivers (especially if you’re economically minded) but there is the option of a 1.6-litre petrol powerplant with 128PS of power which has a CO2 rating 149g/km with the ‘stop/go’ system. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, but a six-speed auto is available as an option. The diesel engine in the test ca is brand new, and SsangYong engineers have put a lot of effort into optimum power delivery in the mid ranges while also minimising noise. Indeed, it doesn’t get raucous even when approaching the rev limit, although in practice that’s not really something you need to do.
It combines style with more traditional, business-like 4x4 looks, an efficient new engine range and excellent economy. But when it comes to money, there are few rivals who can offer the same levels of luxury and equipment for the price.
For more information on the SsangYong Tivoli click here