SsangYong Tivoli smart eye-opener for brand awareness

PUBLISHED: 12:06 20 October 2015 | UPDATED: 12:07 20 October 2015

SsangYong Tivoli is a smart, affordable, value compact crossover that will get the Korean brand noticed.

SsangYong Tivoli is a smart, affordable, value compact crossover that will get the Korean brand noticed.


Some new models are game-changers, raising awareness for a brand and SsangYong’s new Tivoli compact crossover does all the right things to deserve being noticed, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

Smart entrance

My first encounter with the SsangYong Tivoli was one passing me on a motorway before it was officially launched. It caught me unawares but its smart styling caught my attention and then 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 – it’s the first SsangYong to make the world car design of the year final, asking what it was and looking surprised to learn it was a SsangYong.

Talking about that name – Tivoli is a hilltop town in Italy known for its culture and two Unesco world heritage sites. That sounds a bit deep. The window sticker is more direct – TIVOLI - I LOV IT.

SsangYong Tivoli

Price: SsangYong Tivoli EX 1.6 £14,600 (range £12,950 to £19,500)

Engine: 1,597cc, 128PS, four-cylinder petrol

Performance: 0-62mph 12 seconds; top seed 106mph

MPG: Urban 34.5; extra urban 52.3; combined 44.1

CO2 emissions: 149g/km

Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 24%

Insurance group: 16 (out of 50)

Warranty: Five years, unlimited mileage

Will it fit in the garage? L 4,195mm ; W 1,795mm; H 1,590mm

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.

I had hoped to drive diesel rather than petrol but came away wondering if I would pay the extra for diesel. Emissions and economy are anything to shout about but the Tivoli’s competitive pricing outweighs any extra fuel and tax costs.

The petrol engine lacks the diesel’s low-down grunt so feels flat at low revs but, above 3,000rpm, comes alive, revving freely for brisk performance. Keep it on the boil with the snappy six-speed manual gearbox, and it can be really quite entertaining if a little noisy.

Even with some hard driving, in the real world I was getting MPG in the high 30s running around and mid 40s on a run.

How does it drive?

Pleasing to look at, the Tivoli is also 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 roll from the tall body kept in check. Three settings for the steering – comfort, normal and sport – allow it to be adjusted to aid parking or weight it up for more feel at speed.

The ride is firm but fine on decent roads, even with the mid-spec EX model’s 18in alloy wheels. Press on and it loses some of its composure at speed on poor roads with some pitter-patter over bumps and lumps, along with more tyre noise, and gets a little bouncy over dips and crests which is more noticeable in the back.

The light, responsive throttle and high-biting clutch pedal take some getting used to for smooth getaways – early on I stalled a couple of times or had too many revs.

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 for short journeys.

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.

In the cabin

The interior really raises the game for SsangYong. It looks modern and well thought-out with attractive dials, some slick switchgear, good ergonomics and smart gloss black trim panels. Storage is also plentiful with a large glovebox and central locker and four doorbins.

And I loved the traditional clockface which appeared on the seven-inch touchscreen, on EX and ELX, when the infotainment system was turned off.

Compared to other SsangYong models, the Tivoli feels two generations ahead when it comes to design and quality.

The upright driving position is comfortable and, while you can raise and lower the driver’s seat on all models, the steering wheel adjusts only for height.

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.

Final say

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, they’ve really caught on with buyers.

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Andy Russell

Andy Russell

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EDP motoring editor, journalist who loves wheels and engines but hates cleaning them.

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