What is it: The SsangYong Tivoli XLV is an extended boot version of the Tivoli compact SUV
Key features: Significantly enlarged boot space, roof rails
Our view: It might not compete with mainstream rivals on performance and refinement, but scores on its space and standard equipment
Type of review: First UK drive
SsangYong is very clear about its place in the UK car market. Unlike certain rivals which according to marketing director Steve Gray are ‘getting ideas above their station’, the Korean brand sees itself simply as a maker of good value 4×4 vehicles – and indeed some 65 per cent of sales of the larger Korando SUV are with all-wheel-drive transmissions, even more than the market-creating Nissan Qashqai.
The Tivoli is a different vehicle, however. Launched last year it has pitched SsangYong firmly into the market where everyone wants an SUV right now, the B or compact segment.
This sector continues to grow faster than any other, led by Nissan’s Juke, and for buyers the appearance and commanding presence of such vehicles is far more important than their off-road ability – so far 4×4 versions account for only around 15 per cent of the Tivoli’s sales. At the same time it has also become SsangYong’s best-selling model.
Now comes a second Tivoli variant, hoping to attract those buyers who like the value-for-money proposition of the model but need plenty of luggage space – perhaps even those downsizing from the next segment up where the Qashqai holds sway.
The Tivoli XLV sits on the same 2,600mm wheelbase as the standard Tivoli, but from the C pillar backwards the body is extended by 238mm. The resultant shape, with its odd little triangular side windows, is admittedly not as easy on the eye as the well-proportioned standard model, and indeed can spark memories of the much-maligned if highly practical Rodius MPV.
In terms of practicality, however, these body modifications really make a difference, as rear luggage space with the seats in place mushrooms from 423 to 720 litres, measured from floor to roof. And inside the car the roominess, both front and rear, is an obvious plus factor.
SsangYong believes such volume will appeal especially to families, golfers and dog owners. These might be buyers of Korean rivals such as the Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson, but also those who would normally consider more mainstream players such as Vauxhall’s Mokka or the Renault Captur. And SsangYong believes even those who have previously targeted small estates, such as MINI’s Clubman or the Skoda Yeti, could be tempted into their new car.
This aim could be helped by a generally well-fitted interior – some of the surfaces are still of the hard plastic variety one expects at the value end of the market, and the sat nav screen jars a bit with its heavy primary colours, but overall it’s an acceptable environment with all the instruments and controls where you would expect to see them.
Just one engine option is available with the Tivoli XLV, SsangYong’s latest Euro 6 diesel of 1.6 litres. It puts out 115hp alongside 300nm of torque, the latter on tap between 1500 and 2500rpm.
The engine is combined with either a six-speed manual or the Alisin six-speed auto gearbox, and a two or all-wheel-drive transmission – the latter is intelligent, usually running in front-wheel-drive format but changing as conditions demand.
Choosing the auto option adds £1,000 to the buying price but also comes with a significant cost in efficiency – in 2WD models for example combined cycle fuel economy drops from 62.8 to 47.9mpg while CO2 emissions go up from 117 to 154g/km. Going for all-wheel-drive offers less of an efficiency disadvantage – manual models record combined cycle figures of 57.6 and CO2 emissions of 127g/km.
One notable aspect of the Tivoli is its potential versatility. It may be pitched to compete in perhaps the most lifestyle-influenced of the SUV segments, but it does still have significant off-road ability, courtesy of its 167mm ground clearance, approach angle of 20.0 degrees, 20.8 degree departure angle and 17.0 degree ramp angle. The 1500kg maximum braked trailer load will also appeal to those looking for a workhorse.
The Car Expert tried vehicles with both manual and auto gearboxes, the manual in 4WD form and the auto with the front-wheel-drive transmission. This is significant as 4WD Tivolis have a different suspension layout to their 2WD siblings, replacing the rear torsion bar with a multi-link setup.
The difference is notable – generally the all-wheel-drive version felt more planted and confident on the Buckinghamshire roads of the launch event test route. It was noticeable too that the combination of engine and auto gearbox seemed to produce rather more transmission noise, not helped by the auto ‘box being very keen to change up as quickly as possible.
Generally, however the Tivoli rides in comfort and corners with confidence, if with a certain amount of body roll and steering which is somewhat woolly in its action.
The XLV is considered the range-topping version of the Tivoli range and as such comes with an extensive list of standard equipment, immediately noticeable being the standard-fit roof rails. According to Steve Gray these are included due to the practical pitch of the model, he admitting that in his opinion they do detract from the ‘floating roof’ styling that is a selling point of the mainstream Tivoli.
An impressive safety specification includes seven airbags and among the driver aids Active Rollover Protection, Brake Assist, Hill Start Assist and ESS (Emergency Stop Signal). Highlights of the ‘nice-to-haves’ list meanwhile include dual-zone air conditioning, TomTom satellite navigation, cruise control, front and rear parking sensors and a Bluetooth-enabled infotainment system based around a seven-inch colour touchscreen.
Tivoli XLV prices start from £1,000 more than their standard-bodied siblings and generally the model offers good value, particualrly when one considers the five-year unlimited mileage warranty that is included. SsangYong may have no grand ideas of moving upmarket, but with the Tivoli XLV the brand should continue to stake a strong claim for a significant slice of the value sector.
SsangYong Tivoli XLV – key specification
Models Tested: SsangYong Tivoli XLV 1.6 diesel ELX Style auto, 4×4 manual
On Sale: August 2016
Range price: £18,250-£20,500
Insurance groups: 17-18
Engines: 1.6 diesel
Power (hp): 115
Torque (nm): 300
0-62mph (sec): 12.0
Top speed (mph): 109 (107 auto)
Fuel economy (combined, mpg): 62.8 (auto 47.9). 4×4 57.6 (44.8)
CO2 emissions (g/km): 117 (auto 154). 4×4 127 (164)
Key rivals: Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson, Vauxhall Mokka
Test Date: August 2016