SsangYong played in the small SUV segment a while back with a thing called the Kyron but Tivoli is a size smaller being on par with something like Mitsubishi’s ASX. It comes in three grades, EX, EXL (driven) and Ultimate
Tivoli is the result of a $440 million development spend by SsangYong owners, Indian company Mahindra, and their influence is tangible in styling details and other areas of the vehicle.
There’s a Japanese made Aisin auto gearbox in Tivoli, possibly the manual too, which comes with either a turbo petrol or turbo diesel 1.6 litre engine. It wouldn’t surprise me if the engine is the same … just adapted to run on either petrol or diesel.
All-wheel drive is available on the Ultimate and is an on-demand system. The other two, EX and EXL are front wheel drive and diesel is auto only.
The thing to remember here is we are talking about a South Korean made product and not a pile of junk from some cheap labour country.
But gosh, it ain’t pretty.
In passing the front looks like Toyota’s RAV 4 with a seemingly blocked off grille, double decker bumper and angry, angled headlights. Pocketed driving lights and angled daytime running lights soften the appearance.
The stubby rear is a touch Mini-esque with curving tail lights atop shoulders that form part of accentuated rear wheel arches. The rear hatch has numerous creases and insets to give more depth to the panel.
Whoever styled the Tivoli couldn’t help themselves so the car is somewhat over styled with too much going on.
SsangYong has never been a leader in this area and is responsible for such things as the Stavic and the first, arresting Actyon Sports ute.
Tivoli exterior details are good…. the rear reflectors, exterior mirrors, spoiler, rear wiper… all good as is the lustrous duco.
When you boil it all down, styling is subjective ….. each to his or her own.
Inside looks reminiscent of the Rexton I drove a decade ago, upgraded with a large centre control screen and multi-function flat bottom steering wheel. It’s a dark grey tone that features a functional and well laid out dash with plenty of air vents and large controls.
The seats have practical dark fabric upholstery and multiple front seat adjustments
Dual zone climate control has decent size rear outlets and there’s plenty of room inside for four. Luggage space is generous with a deep floor and side pockets.
The plastics look the same as before with a coarse skin texture –like but there are new switches and a that multi-function wheel with two instrument dials and trip computer read out in front.
Access is good as the seats aren’t too high and the roofline not too low.
It’s a four/five seater with a flat floor in the rear seat area and folding rear pews for extra carrying capacity.
Plenty of provision is made for IT devices in the cabin.
The mid-spec ELX comes with a decent amount of kit such as;
- Dual zone climate control
- HID headlights
- Roof rails
- Smart steer with 3 modes
- Smart phone streaming
- High beam assist
Drive and Engine
The diesel driven was a good thing apart from a bit too much turbo noise on cold start-up.
It has plenty of punch across the engine’s operating range and decent acceleration off the mark if a touch tardy.
Due to additional thickness in the engine firewall (between the engine bay and passenger compartment), interior noise is minimal.
The ELX has front wheel drive, coil springs all round and a simple torsion beam rear suspension but the overall drive feel is positive, aided by the three mode steering.
Fuel economy on test hovered around the 7.0-litres/100km without paying much attention to driving economically.
The six speed auto has slick changes and is practically imperceptible at any time.
It has good steering feel and decent brakes and overall the drive experience is positive for a small SUV.
Tivoli rates four stars with ANCAP which is surprising given all variants have autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, high beam assist and a reverse camera. It gets an average rating for child protection and pedestrian safety and some other requirements such as lacking a speed limiting device.
I wouldn’t want one of those if a B-double was bearing down on me.
The stability control is way too harsh in operation, aggressively cutting out the engine if a pre-determined (relatively minor amount) of slip is detected.
Drive this car with a touch of spirit and it’s like driving a light switch with the ESP cutting power, on/off/on/off.
Wow, bloody annoying to say the least.
Drive away pricing
- Responsive diesel engine/transmission
- Excellent 6-speed auto
- 7-year unlimited km warranty
Not So Good Bits
- Stability control not smooth
- Four star crash rating
- A touch gimmicky – lights and chimes
Some SsangYongs I like, some I don’t but this one falls in between.
I am not a fan of the styling but the overall package is pretty good. Tivoli is affordable and comes out of a Korean factory…. gotta like that.
Also Look At
Facts and Figures: 2019 SsangYong Tivoli ELX FWD
- Engine: 1.6L four-cylinder turbo diesel producing 84kW/300Nm
- Transmission: Six-speed automatic
- Warranty: 7 years/ unlimited km
- Safety: Four stars
- Origin: South Korea
- Price: from $29,990 drive away