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MotorBar
SsangYong Tivoli 1.2 GDI-T Ventura
Click to view picture gallery“Not everybody wants to drive a
  humungous SUV. Don
t take our word
  for it; just count the sheer number
  of compact SUVs on sale today

  and while you
re at it, you might want
  to add SsangYong
s latest Tivoli to
  your shortlist
...”


WORLDS COLLIDE IN THIS hard-fought sector of the market with price and kit in a perpetual tug-of-war with looks and ability. So where does that leave the Tivoli? Actually, in a rather good place. Fresh from a recent makeover that saw a styling refresh, upgraded cabin with an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system and some new petrol engines, SsangYong's compact SUV is good to go.

The engines first: two new turboed petrol engines have joined the 1.6-litre diesel as under-the-clamshell-bonnet choices. On the petrol side of the fossil-fuelled divide are a 126bhp 1.2-litre three-pot and, with an extra cylinder, and a 161bhp 1.5-litre with an optional six-speed autobox. A six-speed manual gearbox is the default — no hardship because of its positive change action.

The driving position is
spot-on; the clear view
down the bonnet imparts
an easy sense of where
the four corners are.
And the glasshouse’s flat
roofline not only boosts
headroom but also allows
a deeper rear screen,
so there’s an informed
view in the rearview
mirror of what’s going
on behind you.
The on-trend flat-
bottomed steering wheel
comes with perforated leather work areas and
a heated rim — this truly
does make a difference,
not only when the
temperate drops but also
keeping fingers flexible
on long journeys...”
Visually the Tivoli crafts its own individual look — not easy given the glut of mini-SUVs clamouring for your attention and patronage. But this SsangYong does, utilising styling cues such as bold yet subtle wheelarches to emphasise its well-planted stance and a 'floating' roof effect created by blacked-out A- and B-pillars that leave the stronger C- pillar above the muscular rear haunches to visually anchor the flat roofline to the main body. Skilfully cut-in LED tail light units add a graceful flourish to the distinctive tail treatment. The result is a well-dressed, contemporary look-that catches the eye, more than ever when finished in white or Dandy Blue.

Inside you'll find more than a pinch of pizzazz in the upgraded cabin, its likeable ambiance enhanced by interesting trim finishes: 'carbon weave' on door panels and plenty of high-gloss piano black finishing. SsangYong's smallest car it is but it still packs in more than you might expect.

The heated front chairs are long-distance comfy, accommodating and smartly upholstered in a TPU faux leather/cloth mix and serve up three-stages of heat. The driver's seat is height adjustable and even when set for the average adult there's still enough room to wear a big hat plus elbow room, both inner and outer, is also good.

The driving position is spot-on; the clear view down the bonnet imparts an easy sense of where the four corners are. And the glasshouse's flat roofline not only boosts headroom but also allows a deeper rear screen, so there's an informed view in the rearview mirror of what's going on behind you. The on-trend flat-bottomed steering wheel comes with perforated leather work areas and a heated rim — this truly does make a difference, not only when the temperate drops but also keeping fingers flexible on long journeys.

Remote controls on the wheel operate the phone, media and cruise control plus clear-cut conventional AirCon buttons and rotary knobs will be appreciated by many drivers who prefer these to stabbing at a touchscreen while driving. In-cabin storage? Yes, and plenty of it too with a large glovebox, deep door bins that really do hold bottles, a box under the centre armrest large enough for an iPad, a drop-down case for your shades, and dual-use siamesed cupholders alongside the trad-style handbrake.

The main infotainment touchscreen is a user-friendly eight-incher that responds well to finger-taps and comes with a DAB+ radio with iPod and Bluetooth connectivity and six speakers. A linked-in rear-view camera is also part of the package. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are particularly welcome because, unlike its range-topping Ultimate trim sister, the Ventura doesn't get a built-in SatNav so it's a case of using Waze or another smartphone navi app when you want directions.

With the drift away from
diesel now irreversible,
the Tivoli’s two new
engines are timely,
particularly in more
urban landscapes where
SsangYong’s perky
petrol pair come
into their own. Officially
the 1.2-litre three-pot
is good for 40.4mpg;
our hard-driven week
with it saw us record a
test average of 34.6mpg
so most ordinary
drivers should expect
to see around the 40mpg
mark...”
The instrument panel's clear white-on-black dials bookend a driver's information panel showing a large digital roadspeed readout and also incorporates traffic sign recognition with a handy on-screen warning should you exceed (as if!) the limit.

The mid-range Ventura is generously specced and many of its standard 'toys' are extra-cost items on rivals. The main eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system is joined by keyless entry with an engine Start button, AirCon, rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, tinted glass, cruise control, selectable steering weighting, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, DAB+, Bluetooth, auto headlights, rain-sensing wipers, heated door mirrors, auto-dimming rearview mirror, four electric windows (the driver gets one-shot auto down), drive-off auto door locking, LED front fogs, and a set of 16-inch alloy wheels.

You will also feel protected by the Tivoli: all versions get forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking, seven airbags/curtains (including one for the driver's knee), electronic stability programme, active rollover protection, lane departure warning with lane keeping assist, traffic sign recognition, tyre pressure monitoring, driver attention alert, hill start assist, hill descent control, front and rear LED daytime running lights, high beam assist for automatic dipping at night, and height-adjustable front belts, plus there's an Euro NCAP four-star safety rating.

For some cars in this class rear passenger comfort appears to be something of an afterthought. Not so in the Tivoli. For a start the raised seating level and wide opening doors make for hassle-free entry and exit. And once you're seated the space is up there with the best of its peers and accommodates real-world grown-ups: a six-footer can travel at ease behind a similarly tall adult so for those likely to use their rear seats for people and not just shopping, this is one of the best.

Three side-by-side is doable but two will most certainly travel cordially. A full fist of headroom is unexpected but very welcome and it gets better — the 60:40-split backrests offer two recline positions, the padded drop-down central armrest has built-in cupholders and there are long outer armrests, bottle-holding door pockets and, for the children, Isofix fitting to the rear outer seats.

For some cars in this
class, rear passenger
comfort appears to be
something of an
afterthought. Not so
in the Tivoli.
The raised seating and
wide opening doors make
for hassle-free entry
and exit. And once
you
re seated the space
is up there with the best
of its peers; a six-footer
can travel at ease behind
a similarly tall adult...”
Buyers of compact SUVs aren't looking for Porsche-level performance but they do want to be comfortable. Which means not just good seats and a decent ride but some refinement too. The Tivoli obliges: most of the time you're not aware of the three-pot's soundtrack and the cabin remains calm, while in the ride department it delivers pretty much what its peers do. Sure you're aware of the biggest ruts but even so they're not a problem and the ride is generally fine.

We certainly didn't have any complaints — or hear any — from our passengers and many of the back lanes and 'cart tracks' we needed to use every day were pretty trying. Running on motorways, the Tivoli just cruises along with 70mph calling for just 2,000 revs in top gear.

With the drift away from diesel now irreversible, the Tivoli's two new engines are timely, particularly in more urban landscapes where SsangYong's perky petrol pair come into their own. Officially the 1.2-litre three-pot is good for 40.4mpg; our hard-driven week with it saw us record a test average of 34.6mpg so most ordinary drivers should expect to see around the 40mpg mark.

The turboed petrol unit is not short on torque and is keen to work; it's gutsy enough to let lazy drivers get away with late down-changes (thanks to decent pick-up in the higher gears) although there's no excuse for changing on time because the six-speed stick shift is neat to use, having a close gate and accurate throw that's polished on the move.

Suspension-wise the Tivoli makes do very nicely thank you with a McPherson strut set-up at the front and a Torsen beam suspension at the tail. We spent our week with the Tivoli in the depths of Devon where away from the 'Devon Expressway' straight roads are hard to come by. Zigzagging country lanes are the order of the day and some locals would have you believe they were specifically designed to deter caravan-towing tourists.

The tailgate swings up
easily and sits high
for easy access to the
Tivoli’s 393-litre boot —
an ample sufficiency, as
they say, plus it will
happily swallow three
golf bags!
Drop the 60:40-split
backrests and you’ll
have the use of a
completely level, flat-
floored 967-litre
loadbay...”
And on road like these you'll be glad the Tivoli has one of the tightest turning circles in its class. It feels reassuringly capable with well managed body control and grip, smooth biting brakes, and the electric power steering is consistent, making it easy to punt around the winding lanes on cross country routes. Back on major A-roads the Tivoli romps along feeling composed. All-in-all, a safe-handing and pleasant-to-drive small SUV.

The tailgate swings up easily and sits high for easy straightforward access to the Tivoli's 393-litre boot — an ample sufficiency, as they say, plus it will happily swallow three golf bags! Drop the 60:40-split backrests and you'll have the use of a completely level, flat-floored 967-litre loadbay.

Another nice touch is the dedicated storage slot for the roller blind luggage cover when it's not in use; bag hooks and a power socket can also be taken for granted. And if you need to haul a trailer the front-wheel drive Tivoli will pull a braked 1,000kg.

If you want a compact crossover/SUV you're spoilt for choice. Choose the SsangYong and with its practical and accommodating cabin space, well-stocked kit-list and easy driveability, plus a peace-of-mind seven-year/150,000-mile warranty, you can be sure the Tivoli will be satisfying to own. The reversed 'I LOV IT' sticker in the rear screen says it all — ?TI TEG. ~ MotorBar
.
SsangYong Tivoli 1.2 GDI-T Ventura | 16,995
Maximum speed: 112mph | 0-62mph: 10.6 seconds | Test Average: 34.6mpg
Power: 126bhp | Torque: 170lb ft | CO2: 158g/km

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