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The Tivoli…Yong At Heart

SsangYong treads new ground with its compact crossover, the Tivoli.

The SsangYong Tivoli takes the fight to compact crossovers like the Nissan Juke and the Renault Captur with budget pricing, a gutsy 125PS engine and build quality the like of which you wouldn't credit at this price point.

As long as SsangYong can promote this car effectively, it could be their breakthrough vehicle.

The Koreans certainly haven't done things by halves here. This is no cut-down Korando chassis with a bunch of ancient carry- over engines. The Tivoli has had some serious investment thrown at it, and it shows.

The chassis is all-new, albeit hardly adventurous in its suspension design, with MacPherson struts up front and a space-efficient torsion beam rear end. There's a choice of two 1.6- litre engines, a 128PS petrol unit and a 115PS diesel. Buyers can select either 2WD or 4WD model variants and prices start affordably from around £13,000.

The 1.6 petrol unit will get to 62mph in a relatively relaxed 12 seconds and is offered as standard with a six-speed manual gearbox. Pay a little more and you can pair this engine with a six-speed automatic, which is the same unit as seen in the latest Mini, albeit with a bit less sportiness built into the shift logic.

Longer term plans could well see three and four-cylinder turbocharged powerplants find their way into the Tivoli.

Other items of note?

SsangYong's introducing a selectable weight steering system with comfort, normal and sport settings and some surprisingly big wheels. Go for the smaller alloys if you value ride quality. The Tivoli is one of those cars that the longer you look at it, the more design influences you can see. There's something of the Kia Soul in its overall proportioning, with a Nissan Juke-like rear haunch, a front end that's modern Renault in a good way, some Citroen DS3 about the rear three quarter and an interior that's glitzy in an upper-model Vauxhall way.

There's nothing about this car that says SsangYong and, to many, that will be a good thing. Perhaps the Koreans need to work a bit at developing their own family look. It's not there yet, but the Tivoli is by no stretch of the imagination a bad looking car.

Nor indeed is it a cheap looking one. The detailing such as the floating effect roof, the satin roof rails and the materials quality of the interior are at least as good as, if not better than, many of its mainstream rivals. The cabin certainly feels as if it's been the recipient of better quality dash panels and seats than, say, a Nissan Juke. The boot measures 423-litres to the parcel shelf, which is perfectly adequate in this class.

Despite the optimism surrounding the Tivoli's prospects, SsangYong is tempering its expectations, only targeting 1,000 UK sales per year. It's actually fairly easy to see where those sales could come from and who a typical Tivoli owner might be, which isn't always the case with many new cars. In other words, we think there's room in the market for a car with a low asking price, but which doesn't look or feel cheap.

Remember this first model is just a toe in the water. The petrol engine might not be the most impressive powerplant you've ever sampled, but from here we get diesels, all-wheel drive models and a new wave of turbocharged variants, so even if you're not in the market for a budget crossover just at present, keep your eye on this one because it's only going to get better.

The big players in this sector might not be worried yet, but SsangYong here delivers some wholly convincing arguments as to why that won't always be so.

For more information on the SsangYong Tivoli please click here

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