Expert Reviews

First Drive: SsangYong Tivoli 4x4

Thursday 13 October 2016

First Drive: SsangYong Tivoli 4x4

SsangYong has been trying for some time to position itself as the South Korean Land Rover, able to offer cars that are capable on almost any terrain. The Tivoli has been a bit of a hit for the brand, offering consumers a different take on the conventional hatchback.

Now though, the Tivoli 4x4 has arrived to prove that SsangYong really does have off-road credentials. It might not be a car capable of storming the roughest of tracks, but it’s surprisingly good on most of the tough stuff – and even more fun to drive on the road than its front-wheel-drive siblings.

Looks & Image

The standard two-wheel-drive Tivoli was actually seen as one of the better-looking cars in the SsangYong range. The Korando is a capable four-wheel-drive that also manages about bearable on the road, while the Rexton and Turismo never really accomplished much here in the UK.

The Tivoli isn’t a bad-looking car at all though, made up of chunky lines that give the impression of a solid, weighted car. The all-wheel-drive version shares the same styling as the standard car, save for a few ‘4WD’ badges on the wings. 

SsangYong will readily admit that it isn’t ready to compete with Audi or BMW, but is taking on the likes of Renault and Nissan.

Space & Practicality

To achieve the most interior space, manufacturers most often choose to send power to just the front wheels. Traditionally, when you power all four you lose boot or interior room. However, with the Tivoli this doesn’t apply. The four-wheel-drives’ boot is exactly the same size as the standard car’s, sitting at a respectable 423 litres.

Compared to rivals, the Tivoli’s luggage space is respecatable. The ever-impressive Nissan Juke has a 354-litre boot, while the Renault Captur’s 455-litre stowage area is only 30 litres bigger than the Tivoli’s. 

The Tivoli’s interior space is one of the best aspects of the car. There’s plenty of head- and elbow-room in the front, while those in the back have all the legroom they could wish for. It’s certainly no limousine, but it’s an impressively spacious place to sit.

Behind the Wheel

The Tivoli’s four-wheel-drive system has certainly given it better traction over slippery surfaces. The standard car struggles with anything more challenging than loose gravel, but the 4x4 fares much better with difficult terrain.

Wading through water and mud is undertaken easily in the Tivoli, with its off-road electronics and locking differential working together to tackle tricky surfaces.

SsangYong’s engineers needed to change the Tivoli’s rear suspension when they changed the car to four-wheel drive. The front-wheel-drive car’s torsion bar set-up didn’t allow the axle to articulate enough, so that 4X4 was fitted with a multi-link system. This not only gives it great off-road capability, but also improved ride comfort. 

Despite these changes, the four-wheel-drive Tivoli drives in a similar fashion to the standard car. The steering and pedal feel remains on the numb side, sitting alongside a 1.6-litre diesel engine that sits on the unrefined end of the spectrum. 

Value for Money

The Tivoli represents excellent value for money, with prices starting at under £13,000. The four-wheel-drive model, however, can only be hard in range-topping ELX trim, with a 1.6-litre diesel engine under the bonnet. Because of this, it commands an £18,500 price tag, some £5,500 more than the standard car.

Although the 4x4 is more expensive, the ELX trim that it is fitted with has a decent amount of standard kit. This includes leather seats, 18-inch alloy wheels and keyless start. There’s even keyless start, a reversing camera and automatic lights.

Our test car came with the optional six-speed automatic gearbox, which is well suited to both the trim level and the engine. 

Who would buy one ?

If you looked at it practically, spending £1,250 on four-wheel drive wouldn’t be necessary unless you had a specific need for the extra capability it affords. However, the added comfort really does make an argument for the additional outlay. It’ll be worth it for those drivers looking to do longer miles, or those who were considering a top-spec car anyway.

Facts at a Glance

Model: SsangYong Tivoli 1.6d 4x4 Auto (£19,500)
Engine: 1.6-litre turbodiesel (113bhp) 0-62mph: 11secs
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Performance: Top speed 107mph
Economy: 47.9mpg
Emissions: 156g/km


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