Some new models are game-changers, raising awareness for a brand and SsangYong’s new Tivoli compact crossover does all he right things to deserve being noticed, says motoring editor ANDY RUSSELL.
I first saw a SsangYong Tivoli when it passed me on a motorway. It caught me unawares but the smart styling caught my attention before I spotted the SsangYong badge.
Many people had a similar reaction when I had an eye-catching red Tivoli on test, commenting on its good looks and looking surprised to learn it was a SsangYong. Talking about that name – Tivoli is a hilltop town in Italy known for its culture but the sticker in the rear window spells it out – TIVOLI I LOV IT
UNDER THE BONNET
Two 1.6-litre engines – 128PS petrol and 115PS turbo diesel – are offered with six-speed manual or automatic gearboxes. The diesel will also be available with on-demand four-wheel drive as well as front-wheel drive.
The petrol engine lacks the diesel’s low-down grunt but, above 3,000rpm, comes alive and can be quite entertaining if a little noisy. I was getting MPG in the high 30s running around and mid 40s on a run.
EQUIPMENT AND VALUE
Offered in SE, EX and ELX trims, even the entry model includes keyless entry, four electric windows and heated door mirrors, air-conditioning, cruise control, seven airbags including one for the driver’s knees, stability control and speed-sensing door locking.
But it’s worth stepping up to EX to gain leather seats, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, the touchscreen audio system with Bluetooth and iPod connectivity, rear view camera, front fog lights and bigger 18in alloys.
And all models get a five-year, unlimited mileage warranty.
SPACE AND COMFORT
This compact crossover is anything but on the inside with generous head and legroom for four six-footers and you could squeeze three in the back.
The deep, flat-sided boot is also spacious at 423 litres but you have to negotiate a high sill when loading and the roller luggage cover, not standard on the entry-level SE model, feels cheap and flimsy. Rear seat backs fold flat 60/40 but leave a big step up from the boot floor.
HOW DOES IT DRIVE
Pleasing to look, pleasant to drive – it’s not a car you’re likely to throw around but feels confident and competent driven normally on twisty roads with body roll in check. Three settings for the steering – comfort, normal and sport – lighten it for parking or weight it up for more feel at speed.
The firm ride is generally fine but at speed on poor roads it’s a little bouncy, more noticeable in the back, with some tyre noise.
IN THE CABIN
The interior raises the bar for SsangYong. It looks modern with some slick switchgear, good ergonomics and smart gloss black trim panels. Storage is also plentiful. I liked the traditional clock which appeared on the seven-inch touchsreen, on EX and ELX with the infotainment system off. Compared to other SsangYongs, Tivoli feels two generations ahead for design and quality.
The Tivoli is a game-changer for SsangYong with this affordable, big-value compact crossover set to bring the Korean brand’s name to a wider audience and get it noticed too.
Hyundai and Kia were once newcomers to the UK car market too and, with the right models and warranties, we know how well they have done.
For more information on the SsangYong Tivoli click here