SsangYong Tivoli XLV 1.6 diesel 2016 Road Test

The well-made, good value SsangYong Tivoli was one of the most surprising cars of 2015, and now one if its flaws – the modest, if not small boot capacity – has been fixed by the addition of a new Tivoli XLV variant. Unfortunately, if you want the extra space you’ll have to pay quite a lot more, since the XLV is only offered in top trim.

In the XLV, boot capacity is generous at 574 litres, or 1294 litres with the seats folded flat. It's a good shape and size too, with a wide and mostly square aperture. There's more than enough room for camping trips away or for carrying outdoor equipment. The only caveat is the height of the load deck, which will make lifting heavy objects in and out quite difficult - but that's a problem shared with most crossovers.

In the UK, buyers will only be able to specify the 1.6-litre diesel engine, with a choice of manual or automatic gearbox and front- or all-wheel drive. Peak power is 115PS so it’s not the most exciting engine in the world, but it’s adequate, though gruff and coarse in comparison to engines in rival cars like the Nissan Qashqai dCi.

The manual transmission is light and easy to operate, but it needs to be worked quite hard to make the most of the engine, which isn’t quite as responsive from low engine speeds as some small diesels, despite a decent 300Nm peak torque output. If the manual sounds like too much hard work there is a six-speed automatic, which requires much less effort and is smooth.

Ssang Yong Tivoli XLV ELX (5)

Unfortunately, opting for the auto ups emissions from 117g/km to 154g/km and reduces fuel economy from 62.8mpg to 47.9mpg. That’s a problem if you cover a lot of miles and it means annual VED will cost more too. On the plus side, SsangYong’s official economy figures tend to be fairly realistic in everyday driving.

At motorway speeds the Tivoli XLV is easy to drive, quiet and smooth. The comfort-focused suspension does a good enough job of absorbing lumps and bumps, but it doesn’t keep body roll at bay when cornering at higher speeds – nor does the light steering inspire huge confidence when pressing on at pace. That said, at a more typical, sedate speed the Tivoli XLV feels perfectly fine and is very easy to drive.

Since the XLV is only offered in top trim in the UK, it’s well-appointed too.  The seats are trimmed in leather and are heated, plus there’s climate control, Bluetooth and a touchscreen system with navigation. The touchscreen interface is straightforward and user-friendly, but the navigation could be better. Occasional moments of lag lead to confusion on roundabouts or at junctions, which isn't a problem in familiar places, but in a new town it could result in getting lost.

Build quality is as good as you’d get from rival Korean brand Hyundai, with hardwearing yet plush plastics in the cabin. There’s plenty of space in the back row, with knee and head room ample enough for adults, plus the seat backs can be reclined to make longer journeys more relaxing. The rear seats are even heated – so if you have teenagers to transport around then it’s a good car for the job.

Ssang Yong Tivoli XLV ELX (10) (1) 

For those who want to do some light off-roading, or live in areas with poor weather, the Tivoli XLV can be specified with all-wheel drive. It’s an on-demand system that kicks in as and when it’s needed, so on a slippery road or a dirt track it’s handy to have. Don’t expect any serious off-road ability though – there’s not quite enough ground clearance for that.

If you tow trailers or caravans then SsangYong would probably prefer you to buy the more capable Korando, but the Tivoli has a decent braked trailer rating of 1500kg. That’s enough for a medium-sized caravan with three or four berths. The extra storage space in the boot will come in handy on a caravanning trip too.

SsangYong has opted to sell the Tivoli XLV in top ELX trim only, which means people who want a bigger Tivoli on the cheap are out of luck. Even so it’s hard to find fault with the value for money on offer given the standard equipment which, aside from previously mentioned luxuries like leather seats, also includes auto lights, auto wipers and cruise control. Prices are to be confirmed, but should be from around £17,000.

The well-established rivals Nissan Qashqai costs a similar amount, but only in a lower trim level with less generous equipment. If you’re more concerned with value for money than with the badge on your car, there’s a lot to like about the Tivoli XLV. It’s practical, well-equipped, spacious and it comes with a very comprehensive five-year, unlimited mileage warranty. 

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