Ssangyong Tivoli THE X FACTOR? (75/100)
SsangYong's compact crossover, the Tivoli, is no longer quite so compact. Jonathan Crouch looks at what's on offer.
Ten Second Review
SsangYong Tivoli has proved to be the first truly credible value-brand entrant in the growing small Crossover segment. There, it competes with cars like Renault's Captur and Nissan's Juke but it isn't quite large enough to go up against slightly larger contenders like Skoda's Yeti and Mitsubishi's ASX. Here though, is a variant that is - the Tivoli XLV.
The Tivoli has been a crucial product for SsangYong, a small crossover that since its launch in 2015, has sold in numbers previously unknown to the South Korean brand's UK dealers. It slots in beneath the marque's Korando small SUV, that car supposed to mop up customers wanting something a little larger and Qashqai-sized. The Korando though, is a little utilitarian and old-school for some folk in the Qashqai set. To interest these people, SsangYong needed to replicate the Tivoli's successful formula in a slightly larger form.
Which is what we've got here in the Tivoli XLV. 'XLV', apparently, stands for 'Exciting Lifestyle Vehicle'. We're not quite sure what that means but what it doesn't designate is 7-seat capacity: you don't get that here. Instead, what this variant does provide is a very large 720-litre boot.
SsangYong has decided to restrict this XLV model to the best of the engines available in this standard Tivoli, the unit in question being a 113bhp 1.6 e-XDi 160 four cylinder diesel, offered with the option of either two or four-wheel drive and the choice of either manual or automatic transmission. Everything mechanical is exactly as it is in the smaller car, which means that this diesel Tivoli can lug along 1,500kg of braked trailer towing weight. That's nearly double the weight that a diesel-powered Renault Captur would be able to tow.
What you might not expect a small Crossover to be is in any way really capable when conditions or the terrain get nasty. This one though, might surprise you. Indeed, a key reason why you might consider this Tivoli is down to the fact that it's one of the only small Crossovers you can buy that doesn't cost ridiculous money in four-wheel drive guise. The 'Torque-On Demand' system in question isn't quite as sophisticated a set-up as you'll find in some of the brand's bigger models but it'll be quite sufficient for the needs of Tivoli owners who might live in remote areas or perhaps need to tow small boats and caravans.
Design and Build
Sharing the same platform and 2,600mm wheelbase as the Tivoli, the XLV features a lengthened body from behind the C pillar, an increase of 238mm over the standard car, expanding the load capacity to a huge 720 cubic litres of space. Meanwhile, the styling cues that distinguish Tivoli are retained, including its harmoniously fused SUV body design, sports coupe look and floating roofline. Designed to offer a multi-role, multi-function solution to a wide range of customers, Tivoli XLV aims to provide just the versatility needed to meet individual lifestyles: say a family car for lugging baby buggies and cots for small children, bikes and golf clubs for the sports-minded, and materials or business equipment during the working week.
Inside, the cabin's a lot nicer than the kind of thing you'd expect to find in a small, affordable Crossover, especially in the high-spec trim level that SsangYong has decided is appropriate for this XLV variant. There's a centre dash dominated by an informative 7-inch colour touchscreen via which you access the usual stereo, 'phone and informational functions, plus the Tom Tom sat nav system that comes as standard. Special mention needs to go to the exceptionally supportive seats which apparently have won awards back in Korea.
Market and Model
The lengthened XLV bodystyle is based solely on the plusher 'ELX' level of trim and the 1.6-litre diesel engine and is offered with either manual or automatic transmission and 2WD or 4WD. You'll pay a £1,000 premium for the XLV's extra space over what you'd have to find over a normal equivalently specified Tivoli variant. XLV pricing starts at just over £18,000 and runs up to around £20,500. There's a £1,000 premium if you want automatic transmission and a £1,250 premium if you want 4WD.
This kind of pricing allows this car to easily undercut a rival Skoda Yeti, which costs a few hundred more in its most sparesely-equipped 2.0 TDI diesel 110PS 'S' guise but in more comparable 'SE' 2.0 TDI 110PS spec costs nearly £2,000 more. All Tivoli XLV models feature digital-dual zone automatic air conditioning, an infotainment system with RDS radio, a 7" high-resolution touch screen, USB/AUX ports, iPod & Bluetooth connectivity, Tom-Tom navigation and a rear view camera. Plus there's cruise control, parking sensors front and rear, rain sensing wipers, automatic headlight activation and roof rails.
On to safety - another area in which this Tivoli is more than class-competitive. True, there are none of the really fancy electronic features that pricier models in this segment are starting to offer, but there's a tough structure, over 70% of which is made from high-strength steel. And bolted into it is everything you really need, fitted as standard on all models. So you get twin front, side and curtain airbags, plus a driver's knee 'bag, ISOFIX childseat fastenings and a Tyre pressure monitoring system. There's also Hill Start Assist, 'ESP' stability control, 'ARP' Active Roll-Over Protection and 4-channel anti-lock brakes with 'HBA' Hydraulic Brake Assist to aid in emergency stops advertised to following motorists by automatically-activating hazard warning flashers.
Cost of Ownership
The 1.6-litre diesel used here is reasonably frugal, if not class-leadingly so. The 2WD version manages combined cycle economy of 62.8mpg and 117g/km of CO2. Like all models in the SsangYong range, this one is covered by a best-in-class 5 year limitless mileage warranty. Designed to be totally transparent and give customers complete peace of mind, 'limitless' means just that: not a maximum mileage condition that some brands impose in their small print.
All the major mechanical components are covered including wheel bearings, suspension joints and bushes, steering joints, shock absorbers and even the audio system. Wearable components such as clutch discs and brake friction materials which could have their life reduced by poor driving are covered for one year or 12,500 miles, and the battery and paintwork for three years.
Do you love it? The 'Tivoli' name, in case you hadn't realised, spells 'I lov it' backwards. Or, if you prefer, connects his car into the elegance of the Roman hilltop town that was home to the Emperor Hadrian. Either way, it's a badge appropriate for the kind of fashionable yet spacious little Juke-genre Crossover this Tivoli XLV is trying to be.
There may be more dynamic, more efficient choices in this segment but can they really offer enough to justify their higher pricing? Are the products in question really that much better than this one? Try a Tivoli XLV and you may well decide not.