SsangYong Tivoli XLV

New Car Review

7.5 out of 10

10 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 Karoq and Mitsubishi's ASX. Here though, is a variant that is - the Tivoli XLV.

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Detailed ratings

Overall
75 %
Economy
8 / 10
Space
9 / 10
Value
9 / 10
Handling
6 / 10
Depreciation
6 / 10
Styling
8 / 10
Build
7 / 10
Comfort
7 / 10
Insurance
8 / 10
Performance
6 / 10
Equipment
8 / 10

Background

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.
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Video

Driving experience

SsangYong originally launched this XLV model only with their 115PS 1.6 e-Xdi 160 four cylinder diesel, but the brand now also offers this model with 128PS 1.6-litre petrol power too. What you can't now have is 4WD; it's front wheel drive only with both engines, but there is an auto transmission option. Everything mechanical is exactly as it is in the smaller Tivoli model, 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.
Through the corners, body control is decent and the steering consistent, if a little light.
Fortunately, you can weight it up by playing with the 'Smart steering' system that SsangYong has decided all models should have, a set-up delivering three self-explanatory modes - 'Normal', 'Comfort' and 'Sport'. The six-speed automatic is much the same unit as seen in the MINI, albeit with a bit less sportiness built into the shift logic. This self-shifting gearbox is obviously well suited for the city. Move through its cogs and you'll find long ratios chosen for economy rather than speed.
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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.
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Market and model

The lengthened XLV bodystyle is based solely on the plusher 'Ultimate' level of trim and front wheel drive, but you do now get a choice of either 1.6-litre petrol or 1.6-litre diesel power, both units available with optional auto transmission (which costs £1,000 more). You'll pay a £750 premium for the XLV's extra space over what you'd have to find over an equivalently specified Tivoli variant. XLV pricing starts at just under £20,000 and runs up to £22,245. There's a £1,000 premium if you want automatic transmission.
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.
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Cost of ownership

The 1.6-litre diesel used here is reasonably frugal, if not class-leadingly so. It manages combined cycle economy of 54.3mpg and 136g/km of CO2. For the 1.6-litre petrol version, the figures are 38.2mpg and 169g/km. 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.
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Summary

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 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.
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