SsangYong Tivoli Review
The SsangYong Tivoli is a cheap and practical crossover, but its interior quality pales in comparison to that of other small SUVs.
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- Spacious for its size
- Generous standard equipment
- Cheap to buy and run
What's not so good
- Not as striking as a Nissan Juke
- Quality falls behind alternatives
- Bland to drive
SsangYong Tivoli: what would you like to read next?
The SsangYong Tivoli is a decent pick if you want comfortable, family-orientated driving on a small budget. It drastically undercuts other compact SUVs like the Vauxhall Mokka X and Ford EcoSport price, although its cheapness is given away with its 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.
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 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. Further down the Tivoli’s dash and doors the quality drops off significantly.
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.
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, but from ELX trim you get a 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while range-topping Ultimate models add built-in sat-nav. Safety features are also plentiful, with every version getting front, side and curtain airbags, autonomous braking, automatic door locks and forward collision alerts.
Ssangyong is famous for its off-road vehicles, but its entry-level Tivoli is two-wheel-drive only. Driving it is a bit like eating potato salad – pleasant enough, 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, while the diesel is cheaper if you often cover longer distances, officially capable of around 50mpg. 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 is noisier than its alternative small SUVs at motorway speeds and it isn’t particularly comfortable at slower ones, its stiff suspension doing little to hide the bumps in the road. Still, in town, the Tivoli’s Smart Steer system lightens the steering for parking and other manoeuvres, plus the Tivoli’s raised ride height helps visibility, giving you more confidence to thread through traffic and slot it into parking spaces. This elevation means that loading child seats into the back is easier on your back too.
So, there are far better small SUVs to drive and plenty of better interiors on offer in terms of quality. However, if space, a rock-bottom price and good level of equipment are your main priorities then it’s worth investigating the Ssangyong Tivoli. If that’s you, check out our Ssangyong Tivoli deals.
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