Review: SsangYong Tivoli

Review: SsangYong Tivoli
Review: SsangYong Tivoli

Does a mild update make everything in the garden rosy?

The small SUV has helped give SsangYong a small increase in market share, a share predicated to quite a large degree on a really low price tag with sensible equipment lists. For this year a minor makeover adds to that equipment list, especially in terms of safety equipment, but is it enough to push the Tivoli forward more into the mainstream?

Often, going for the top spec model, where all the extra kit resides, does bad things to the price tag, but this ELX top trim still comes in at under £17,000. And for that you get sat nav, sensors, auto lights and wipers and more. True, the whole cabin feels fairly budget and materials show the compromises wrought by the low price tag, but it’s all in there.

And at the back there’s a really spacious boot for all the family’s goodies. The family will also benefit from a raft of new and standard-fit (apart from on entry-level) safety equipment including lane departure warning, lane keeping assist and AEB (automatic emergency braking).

SsangYong Tivoli 1.6 ELX

Price: £16,800
Engine: 1.6-litre, four-cylinder, petrol
Power: 126bhp
Torque: 118lb/ft
Gearbox: Six-speed manual
Kerb weight: 1270kg
0-62mph: 12.7sec
Top speed: 106mph
Economy: 44.1mpg
CO2/tax band: 113g/km, 21%

Handling and ride are also a bit bargain basement, but some of the competitors in this sector of hardly paragons of control. What might put us off is the petrol engine here. SsangYong is noting a small shift away from diesel and this 1.6-litre petrol engine is their response – until a new range of engines arrives next year, anyway.

There should be a 126bhp powerbase in there, but it’s almost impossible to find. Maximum power is at a fairly high 6000rpm and maximum torque ditto at 4600rpm, so if you’re looking for an easy, low-down grunty sort of engine you’re going to be sorely disappointed.

You end up caning it around the place just trying to keep decent momentum. The equivalent-sized diesel is hardly a sophisticated thing, but at least it pulls better than the petrol option. In its favour, the petrol unit does have a slick six-speed gearbox, which we’d choose over the rather slower auto transmission.

It really does all come down to money. On the one hand, the Tivoli isn’t much fun to drive, has some cut-price elements to the cabin and indeed everywhere, and is generally a rather uninspiring vehicle. On the other hand it offers tremendous value for money, has all the safety kit you’d find on competitors, and has large amounts of space and practicality.

You could save a bit of money – near £1500 – by going for the lower EX trim, which still gives you dual-zone climate control and a lot else, or you could spend a bit more – about £1000 – and go for the 1.6-litre diesel engine which will fit in better with the rest of the package. Either way, you’re going to be saving a lot of money over many of the competitors, if you see how they match up on paper. How they match up on the road is a slightly different thing.

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