Monday 6th June 2016
VICTORIOUS CROSSES - THE SMALL CARS THAT THINK BIG
It is hardly a first-born child or even a ‘‘Susan Boyle moment’’ but you might remember the first time you clapped eyes on a Nissan Juke.
Nowadays the Sunderland-built Juke is as common as cheesy chips but back in 2010 it was considered absolutely bonkers – concept car looks at small-hatchback prices.
For that reason, the fact that it was pretty poor was irrelevant. Cramped interior, tiny boot space, bad driving position, ropey cabin.
Buying a Juke was (and still is) like getting a date with your dream woman and discovering she eats with her mouth open.
But car buyers are a vain bunch of people.
Not only has the Juke kept on selling — Nissan flogged 40,000 in the UK last year — but it revolutionised the small market.
No longer is a Ford Fiesta-type hatchback the only sort of little runabout to choose from.
We can number of prematurely born gas-guzzlers, such as the Vauxhall Mokka, the Ford EcoSport, the Mazda CX-3 and the SsangYong Tivoli. The what? Yep, the new SsangYong Tivoli.
It's a shining Korean example of just how important the compact crossover is these days. In the time it took Nissan to shift all those Jukes last year, SsangYong sold just 3 500 butt-ugly SUVs , people carriers and pick-up trucks — either to farmers or, presumably, people so devastatingly attractive they needed something to bring them back down to earth.
Not too many people like that exist, so to hit the mainstream SsangYong has decided to make a compact crossover. For a start, the crossover market is currently they fastest growing in Europe.
But it is awash with form-over-function fops, like the Fiat 500X.
A marketing decision dressed up as a tiny SUV, the 500X is more expensive than Fiat's other beefed-up 500, the 500L, yet far less practical and no better to drive.
It is aimed squarely at Sunday League Wags.
And that is where SsangYong comes in.
The Tivoli is aimed at Sunday League dads. The sort who think "sexy" is a car with six cup holders, a glovebox big enough for two pairs of those brown hiking trainers dads wear and a centre console designed for a massive iPad 2.
There is the 65mpg economy of the diesel version too, which doesn't dip too much if you specify four-wheel drive (taking you to the start of your next big hike).
As much torque as a Mini Cooper S — something to brag about over a real ale or two.
It is not slow, either, with as much torque as a Mini Cooper S — something to brag about over a real ale or two.
Sure, the dashboard looks like it was lifted from a stereo that was bought at a Nineties car boot sale.
And SsangYong is so uncool it makes Kia seem like Aston Martin. But the Tivoli is just about the best compact crossover there is.
It's big, cheap, looks great and is uncommon.
It is better than the runabouts of the past and everything a small SUV should be — it trounces the Juke to become king of the compact crossovers.
Key facts: SSANGYONG TIVOLI ELX
Engine: 1.6-litre turbo diesel
0-62 mph: 11.9 seconds
Top speed: 107mph
Turning circle: 11m
Key facts: NISSAN JUKE TEKNA 1.5 dCi
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo diesel
0-62 mph: 11.2 seconds
Top speed: 109mph
Turning circle: 10.7m
Key facts: FIAT 500X POP STAR
Engine: 1.6-litre turbo diesel
0-62 mph: 10.5 seconds
Top speed: 116mph
Turning circle: 11.5m
CO2: 109g/kmClick here to request a brochure