The SsangYong Tivoli offers a different name, shape and brand on roads full of familiar small crossovers. It has a distinctive image, high levels of equipment, and a spacious cabin. It also comes with an assuringly long warranty that may still be in place for a used buyer. Maybe it’s time SsangYong became a more familiar name on your used car shopping list?
This five-door crossover from the little-known South Korean brand looks a little different. It cuts a bright, zesty figure with a tiny front grille, sharp-angled creases along the sides, and a boxy cockpit.
The headlights flare back, and the roof seems to float above the cabin. Optional colour packs pick out the roof, mirrors and rear spoiler in funky contrasting shades. Other extras include bigger alloy wheels that look more impressive and purposeful.
The Tivoli had a makeover in 2020 that added sharper LED headlamps and rear lights. More importantly, it introduced the XLV model. This is like an estate version of the Tivoli – longer, with higher prices and more awkward looks. It comes with a very useful extra 24cm load area behind the rear seats.
What's it like to drive?
Both the petrol and diesel Tivolis offer refined and smooth driving experiences. Most versions are two-wheel-drive and have a manual gearbox. With its lightly weighted controls, the Ssangyong is easy to drive in town or out on the open road. A ‘smart’ system allows drivers to select sport, normal or comfort levels of weighting to the steering. It’s basically like most modern crossovers, then.
Older versions of the diesel models can come with four-wheel-drive for more grip on tricky surfaces, and both engines can be paired with an automatic gearbox. Fitted with the Ssangyong four-wheel-drive system, the Tivoli becomes a very competent off-roader capable of tackling some serious inclines and ruts. The 4WD system isn’t available on versions sold after 2020.
Whatever age they are, all Tivolis are comfortable over bumpy surfaces. The suspension smooths out most potholes. The car cruises pretty quietly on the motorway too.
Whatever age they are, all Tivolis are comfortable over bumpy surfaces.
The Tivoli has a similarly bold appearance on the inside as the out. From the flat-bottomed steering wheel to the colour touchscreen, there’s a youthful vibe. If that’s not bright enough for you, some versions are fitted with a jazzy red leather interior (including the seats, wheel and doors), or with contrasting interior trim panels to brighten the cabin.
For a car that’s at the budget end of the market, there’s a surprisingly classy, upmarket feel to the materials used. The dashboard is tidy, thanks to a distinctive central console and neat instruments. The switches all feel robust and durable.
It’s spacious, too. The rear seats in particular are roomier than most. Front seats are multi-adjustable. Finding a good driving position is easy. You sit high, with a good commanding view of the road in all directions thanks to the thin roof pillars.
Ssangyong knew it needed to offer a lot to win buyers to the unfamiliar badge, so equipment levels are high. Among older Tivolis, even the humblest were fitted with cruise control, keyless entry and Bluetooth. Step up a trim level for heated leather seats and a seven-inch colour touchscreen. Top-spec versions added sat-nav, auto lights and wipers, and a keyless starting system. More recent versions came with further upgraded spec levels, including a bigger touchscreen and leather seats becoming standard across the range.
Lift the nice big tailgate and you’ll find the Tivoli offers a generous boot that will swallow everything for a weekend away. Fold down the rear seats to increase the space dramatically. Want even more? Since 2020, the XLV version has been available with a much bigger boot that rivals the largest load-carriers in the class.
In addition, all Tivolis come with plenty of useful small stowage spaces around the cabin. And with 7 airbags, it rates well in safety tests.
The extensive options list before 2020 means some cars have been fitted with unusually upmarket extras. Look out for older Tivolis with premium luxuries like a heated steering wheel or ventilated seats.
Reliability and running costs
You have the choice of perky petrol engines with a fuel economy from around 35-40mpg or smooth, punchy diesels that are usually more economical. The two-wheel-drive diesel with manual gears and the stop-start system has the best official figures at 67mpg. Other costs like tax and insurance should be roughly average for small crossovers.
The Tivoli was sold new with a five-year unlimited mileage warranty, which was extended to seven years in 2020. Even if this has expired when you come to buy, it demonstrates Ssangyong’s confidence in its own reliability. There have been too few reports for a good overall assessment of its reliability but if you’re worried, try cinchCare for reassurance.
What we love
The Tivoli has become Ssangyong’s best-selling model ever in the UK thanks to its low prices, matched with distinctive looks and high levels of equipment. The cabin is spacious and brightly designed. The boot is big, too. Tivoli running costs are generally good and it’s an easy car to drive. The long warranty is reassuring for anyone worried about an unfamiliar brand.
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The Ssangyong Tivoli undercuts many rival small crossovers on price, and matches them with its roomy cabin and the array of gadgets and toys inside. All versions are spacious and the new XLV offers huge load-lugging potential. The Tivoli’s funky looks and unfamiliar badge will turn heads wherever it goes.
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