Review: SsangYong Tivoli (2015)


Well equipped and seriously well priced. Hard to fault the build quality when you consider the price. Diesel is affordable to run.

Not the most recognisable brand name. Some of the material quality isn't great in the cabin. Petrol engine has fairly high emissions.

SsangYong Tivoli (2015): At A Glance

With a budget price tag and a largely unknown badge, the SsangYong Tivoli might seem cheap and cheerful – but it’s much better than that. With space for a family, plenty of standard equipment and impressive material quality it’s easily the best car SsangYong has ever made - and it’s good enough to give rival crossovers from the likes of Renault and Nissan something to worry about.

It’s a more practical car than the similarly-priced Nissan Juke, with space in the back row for adults to sit in comfort and a good-sized 423-litre boot, which is only let down by a high load lip. In the cabin there are plenty of cubby holes and usefully-sized storage bins, including a glovebox designed to house a laptop and a centre storage bin big enough for an iPad.

The interior quality of the Tivoli is head and shoulders above anything SsangYong has made previously. Materials throughout the cabin are fairly plush and durable, plus there is good quality leather upholstery on all but entry-level SE models. It also gets heated seats, Bluetooth connectivity and a user-friendly, well-integrated touchscreen system.

There are two 1.6-litre engines – one petrol and one diesel. The 128PS petrol needs to be worked hard to deliver useful performance and it isn’t the most frugal petrol engine on the market, but it has enough power for rural roads or motorways. The 115PS diesel, while a little coarse, is better thanks to a torque output almost twice that of the petrol and reasonable economy of 65.7mpg.

Ride comfort is good, while grip levels and handling are acceptable. An enthusiastic driver won’t necessarily relish driving the Tivoli, especially compared to the Nissan Juke, but most will find it perfectly capable and easy to drive, whether in town, on the motorway or on a rural road.

It might have a few shortcomings, but thanks to a well-made, family-friendly cabin and a very generous level of standard equipment they are easily forgiven. Factor in the very competitive pricing starting at less than £13,000, along with an impressive seven-year warranty and the SsangYong Tivoli starts to look like an absolute bargain. 

SsangYong Tivoli 1.6 petrol ELX 2015 Road Test

SsangYong Tivoli 1.6 diesel auto ELX 2015 Road Test

Long Term Test SsangYong Tivoli XLV 1.6 XDI

What does a SsangYong Tivoli (2015) cost?

List Price from £14,495
Buy new from £12,995
Contract hire from £240.23 per month

SsangYong Tivoli (2015): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4195 mm
Width 1795 mm
Height 1590 mm
Wheelbase 2600 mm

Full specifications

The Tivoli marks a big step forward for SsangYong and this is probably most apparent in the cabin. The layout and material quality is as good as you’d find on Korean made cars from more established brands Kia or Hyundai, despite the SsangYong carrying a much lower price tag.

There are a few areas that remind you this car is at the cheaper end of the price scale, including some faux-metal painted plastics. However for the most part the Tivoli is as good as or better than rivals, particularly the unimpressively cheap-feeling Renault Captur.

The centre stack has a clear and sensible layout, as does the instrument binnacle, particularly in the top ELX model with its colourful dial backlighting. There is plenty of space – passengers will be more than happy in the back row thanks to generous head and leg room.

There is a reasonable boot with a capacity of 423 litres, expandable by folding the rear seats forward. However the load area does have quite a high load lip, which might pose problems for those who carry bulky loads or dogs. It also does without a load cover in basic SE trim, though you could purchase one as an accessory. 

The cabin has plenty of little cubby holes and storage areas, including bottle holders in the door pockets, a glovebox capable of holding a laptop and a centre storage bin large enough to hide away a tablet computer like an iPad, which can be linked up via USB or AUX. 

The Tivoli really shines when it comes to standard equipment. Even the basic SE model comes with air conditioning, alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity and cruise control, but we’d recommend moving up to EX trim. This includes high-quality grey or beige leather upholstery, larger 18-inch alloy wheels, a touch screen system, reversing camera and luggage load area cover.

Standard Equipment:

SE is the basic trim level and includes 16-inch alloy wheels, grey cloth upholstery, cruise control, stop/start (petrol), manual air conditioning and Bluetooth connectivity. It's only available with front-wheel drive and a manual transmission.

EX trim adds larger 18-inch alloy wheels, beige or grey leather upholstery, 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, seven-inch touchscreen system, a rear view camera, heated front seats, front fog lights and a load area cover. Buyers can optionally specify diesel models with either an automatic transmission or a manual transmission and all-wheel drive.

ELX is the top trim and includes a smart instrument cluster, keyless entry and start, front and rear parking sensors, privacy glass, a rear spoiler, automatic lights and wiper and TomTom navigation. Buyers can optionally specify either engine with front or all-wheel drive, manual or automatic transmission.

EX and ELX buyers can choose 'MyTivoli' customisation options including red leather upholstery and contrasting roof/wheel colours. 

Child seats that fit a SsangYong Tivoli (2015)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the SsangYong Tivoli (2015) like to drive?

The Tivoli is available with either a 1.6-litre 128PS petrol or a 1.6-litre 115PS diesel, both of which suit the car very well. Each has a slick-shifting six-speed manual as standard, but a six-speed automatic is optional, as is an on-demand all-wheel drive system. This is designed to help keep the car on the road in poor weather, or for light off-road use rather than for really challenging terrain. 

The petrol engine makes do without a turbocharger, so is less punchy at lower engine speeds than the small petrol engines available in the Nissan Juke and Renault Captur, but it is still smooth and quiet around town. Peak torque is 160Nm at 4600rpm, so you have to work the engine quite hard when accelerating up to motorway speeds or overtaking.

Unfortunately that means it can get a little loud. But when cruising on the motorway, driving on a country road or stopping and starting in town, it remains fairly quiet for the most part. It’s the same story with the diesel, which is generally subdued at a cruise but is loud when pushed hard for overtakes. Unfortuantely it also has the disadvantage of typical diesel clatter when the engine is idling.

On the plus side the diesel has a hefty 320Nm of torque from 1500rpm, so it’s well suited to overtaking and is easier to get along with than the petrol on a twisting country road. It's more frugal than the petrol and it’s cheaper to run too, thanks to its emissions of 113g/km and claimed economy of 65.7mpg for the manual front-wheel drive model. The equivalent petrol manages an official 44.1mpg with 149g/km.

SsangYong has prioritised comfort over sharp handling with the Tivoli, so the ride quality is impressive. Ripples, speedbumps and potholes are dealt with fairly well, though the larger 18-inch wheels on EX and ELX trim levels create more road noise and thud over ripples and potholes more than the 16-inch wheels on the basic SE model.

There is some body roll through corners but it is never alarming. The steering is fairly accurate and its weight can be altered with a button. It's best suited to rural British roads in the normal or sport settings, since it is a little on the light side in the comfort mode. However this can be useful in town or when pulling out of a tight parking space.

Depending on trim level both the petrol and diesel variants are optionally offered with four wheel drive, a six-speed automatic transmission or a combination of both. The automatic is smooth and fairly responsive, but it does have a rather dated-looking shifter, with a tiny, button-based manual override that isn’t great to use compared to the more modern paddles seen on rival models.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.6 39–44 mpg - 149–166 g/km
1.6 Automatic 38–44 mpg - 167–171 g/km
1.6 D 57–66 mpg - 113–130 g/km
1.6 D 4WD 60 mpg - 123 g/km
1.6 D Automatic 48–57 mpg - 146–155 g/km
1.6 D Automatic 4WD 48 mpg - 156 g/km

Real MPG average for a SsangYong Tivoli (2015)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

31–60 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the SsangYong Tivoli (2015)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Why do you never recommend the SsangYong Tivoli as a practical value for money SUV?

Why do you never recommend the SsangYong Tivoli as a practical value for money SUV? Having owned two top of the range models, one diesel and one petrol. I have found the car, reliability and dealership superb.
You're not alone - SsangYong was named the best performing manufacturer in our 2018 Satisfaction Index. We do recommend the Tivoli a lot to people looking for a good value crossover. It's still a niche choice, though - many buyers might be better catered for with a Suzuki Vitara or Honda HR-V.
Answered by Andrew Brady
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