The SsangYong Tivoli is a cheap and practical crossover, but the quality sometimes pales in comparison to that of other small SUVs.
The SsangYong Tivoli is a decent pick if you want comfortable, family-orientated driving on a small budget. Starting below £14,000 (and getting even cheaper if you buy via carwow), it drastically undercuts other compact SUVs like the Vauxhall Mokka X and Ford EcoSport. However, the cheapness is occasionally noticeable, like in the sometimes-scratchy interior and bouncy ride quality.
From the outside, the Tivoli is – by SsangYong standards – a fairly good-looking car. The grille, headlights and fog lights at the front are all sleek, while the back is as angular and futuristic-looking as a Transformer. The 16-inch steel wheels found on the base-level SE trim look a bit comically small when paired with the large body, but upgrading to 18-inch alloys on the ELX version will quickly resolve that.
As you step inside, the Tivoli is more of a mixed bag. Firstly, the space in the completely redesigned cabin is nothing short of excellent. The Tivoli could very easily accommodate a family of four, outdoing alternatives like the Mokka and the Nissan Juke. The storage is pretty generous, too. The Tivoli’s 423-litre boot – thanks to the base-level front-wheel-drive system – again outdoes the Juke and its 354 litres, even if the Renault Captur eclipses everything else with 455 litres.
However, the problem with the interior is the quality of the materials. At first glance, the plastics on the dashboard and in the doors are passable, but it doesn’t take much scrutiny to find some nasty-feeling nooks and crannies. As you live with the Tivoli, you will notice that things can get rather ‘scratchy’, putting it to shame against the comfy and convincing faux leather of the Mazda CX-5.
For the price, the infotainment features inside the Tivoli are generous. Even the base trim comes with a radio that has iPhone and Bluetooth connectivity as standard. As you reach the top-spec Ultimate variant, you’ll get built-in satnav and a 7-inch touchscreen to boot. Safety features are also plentiful, with every version getting front, side and curtain airbags, autonomous braking, automatic door locks and forward collision alerts.
You get what you pay for with the Tivoli. It’s a cheap, roomy and decently-equipped SUV for a family of four, but the suspension and interior can’t compare with the dearer alternatives.
Driving the SsangYong Tivoli is like eating potato salad – it’s certainly OK, but far from exciting. You have the choice between 1.6-litre petrol and diesel engines – the more powerful petrol is better for short journeys, but the diesel is cheaper in the long run, capable of reaching up to 65mpg. Six-speed manual and automatic transmission options are available for the Tivoli and, while the latter is more economical, both feel pretty smooth during gear changes.
The problem is that the Tivoli isn’t the most comfortable during long-distance and motorway travel. Its stiff suspension does little to hide the bumps in the road. Luckily, the car is somewhat redeemed by its Smart Steer system, which can lighten the steering for parking and other manoeuvres, or make it heavier for twisting roads. Plus, the Tivoli is very adept in the city, thanks to a raised ride height that lends plenty of visibility, making it easy to see where you’re going. This elevation also means that loading child seats into the back is as simple as pie.
Unlike such similar SUVs as the Captur, the Tivoli even has the potential to take you off-road. While you shouldn’t exactly use the car to traverse the Amazon rainforest, it has an optional all-wheel-drive system that would have no trouble getting you out of a muddy campsite. It’s not quite on the Suzuki Jimny’s level of brilliance, but the electronic traction control transfers power to the wheels that need it, with little noise to speak of.
All things considered, the SsangYong Tivoli is the epitome of the phrase ‘cheap and cheerful’. For sure, it covers all the essentials of a small, family-accommodating SUV: spaciousness, urban driving, practicality and infotainment. The cheapness can be tangible from time to time but, if that doesn’t bother you, this is a handy, mid-range crossover not to be overlooked.