4x4Car Reviews

2019 SsangYong Tivoli Review

Toby Hagon’s 2019 Ssangyong Tivoli Review With Price, Specs, Performance, Ride And Handling, Ownership, Safety, Verdict And Score.

In A Nutshell A small SUV available in two sizes, with low-powered diesel and petrol propulsion and pricing to undercut many key rivals in an effort to pop SsangYong on the shopping list.

2019 SsangYong Tivoli Specifications

Price $23,490 drive-away Warranty 7 years, unlimited kilometres Service Intervals 12 months, 20,000km Safety Not rated Engine 1.6-litre 4-cylinder petrol or turbo-diesel Power 94kW at 6000rpm (petrol) 85kW at 3400rpm (diesel) Torque 160Nm at 4600rpm (petrol) 300Nm at 1400rpm (diesel) Transmission 6-speed manual or 6-speed auto Drive Front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive Dimensions 4202mm (L) 1798mm (W) 1590mm (H) 2600mm (WB) Boot Space 327-720 litres Ground Clearance 167mm Kerb Weight 1270-1363kg Angles 20.5 degrees (approach) 28.0 degrees (departure) 17.0 degrees (ramp over) Towing 1000kg GVM 1810kg Spare Space-saver (front-wheel drive) or full-size (all-wheel drive) Fuel Tank 47 litres Thirst 6.6- (petrol manual) 7.2- (petrol auto) 5.5- (diesel manual) 5.9L/100km (diesel auto)

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THE Tivoli is an important entry-point to the revised SsangYong lineup in Australia as it relaunches with aspirations of carving itself a niche in a busy market.

Styling is modern with sharp edges and a solid stance, something key to getting the Tivoli on shopping lists. But it’s value that defines the new small SUV, with sharp drive-away pricing and the backing of a seven-year warranty.

What’s In The Range And How Much Does It Cost?

SsangYong has opted for driveaway pricing with the Tivoli, kicking things off at $23,490 on-road. For that you get the EX with a decent smattering of equipment, including a 7.0-inch touchscreen incorporating Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, parking sensors front and rear, 16-inch alloy wheels and active safety that extends to autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane-departing warning and auto high beam.

The standard transmission is a six-speed manual or a six-speed auto transmission adds $2000. From there it’s a $2000 jump to the auto-only ELX ($27,490), which adds dual-zone air-conditioning, tinted windows, HID headlights (with a sharper spread), roof rails and a luggage cover. A 1.6-litre turbo diesel engine is another $2500 on the ELX.

Those wanting all-wheel drive need to step up to the diesel-only Ultimate at $33,990. As well as the gruntier engine driving all four wheels it adds 18-inch alloy wheels, a full-sized spare tyre, sunroof, leather trim and electrically adjustable front seats with heating and cooling functionality. There’s also a two-tone paint package available on the Ultimate for another $500.

Those who need more space can step up to the Tivoli XLV, which gets a bigger boot. The front two-thirds of the car is shared with the regular Tivoli, but the rear has been extended by 238mm for a more wagon-esque body, complete with additional side windows. As it’s a heavier vehicle, SsangYong has paired the Tivoli XLV only with the diesel engine driving through an auto transmission, with the ELX kicking the range off at $31,990 driveaway. Its specification matches that of the regular Tivoli ELX. It’s a $3000 jump to the Ultimate, which adds four-wheel drive and the same features in the Tivoli Ultimate. An extra $500 nets the two-tone paintwork.

What’s The Interior And Practicality Like?

The functional exterior translates to a functional and relatively spacious cabin, something helped by the tall roof. Headroom up front is great and there’s decent adjustability to the driving position, although more lateral support in the seats would be appreciated. Even with the noticeably taller positioning of the back seats – something kids may appreciate for the visibility it brings – there’s decent headroom, although fitting a third person across the rear would be a squeeze.

Despite the back seat friendliness there are no air vents heading aft, the flow from the front vents left to do the job. And, while there are door pockets, the straps on the backs of the front seats won’t cater for much other than magazines and other large items. The slim slot above the glovebox is handy for phones and smaller items, adding to the smattering of binnacles and cavities elsewhere. Long door pockets with twin cupholders built in are particularly useful.

While the seat materials and door finishes (especially on the Ultimate) create some visual interest, elsewhere the plastics are hard and basic, lacking the tactility of the better mainstream players. There’s also a curious cutout atop the dash that doesn’t do anything; what looks like it should house a secondary glovebox or binnacle is little more than a tease.

A deep boot also continues the theme of carrying things comfortably, some elasticised straps helping keep things secure on the right-hand side. All up there’s 423 litres of space in the Tivoli EX and ELX. The full-sized spare of the Ultimate (with its 4WD system) raises the floor significantly, reducing capacity to 327 litres. But once you step up to the larger XLV there’s a full 720 litres of boot space.

What Are The Controls And Infotainment Like?

The central infotainment screen is compact but easy to navigate, its four main menu buttons allowing an easy switch between radio and phone functions. Less obvious is the shortcut to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, the sub-menu hidden in the Mode menu.

Still, once there there’s a smartphone familiarity that makes it easy to dial up tunes, navigation, podcasts and more. Similarly, the instrument cluster is basic but functional. The circular speedo and tacho take pride of place, split by a monochrome trip computer that doubles as a digital speedo. Controls on the steering wheel also provide access to most main functions, with voice control covering off more.

What’s The Performance Like?

The petrol engine in the Tivoli is compact, at just 1.6 litres in capacity. Its outputs are nothing spectacular, either, with 94kW of power if you’re prepared to extend it to 6000rpm. Higher revs will naturally be part of the driving experience anyway, with the modest 160Nm peak arriving at 4600rpm. Fuel use is claimed at 6.2 litres per 100km for the manual or 7.2L/100km for the auto most people will choose. Again, nothing spectacular.

Not that we got to try it. There were no petrol versions at the launch for us to test, with diesels the focus. That’s strange given the dramatic shift sway away from diesels in small SUVs and passenger cars. It also adds a decent chunk to the price tag. That said, while the diesel costs more, on paper it seems the smarter choice because of its more accessible torque. The 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder makes 300Nm from just 1500rpm, though only 85kW at 3400rpm.

It’s a hearty engine and one that works nicely with the six-speed auto transmission, although it’s often too eager to jump into a taller gear, then having to drop down one or two when you call in more. That’s more noticeably on twisty roads. Best to lean on the torque, too, because as revs approach the 4000rpm limit things get rattly.

Fuel use is also superior in the diesel, the claimed consumption 5.5L/100km for the manual and 5.9L/100km for the auto. In the heavier XLV there’s less enthusiasm generally, although the torque helps shift things along nicely.

What’s It Like On The Road?

The Tivoli does the job without enlivening many senses. You get that straight away with the steering, which is lethargic, requiring a decent twirl to get the car to respond. Quick direction changes aren’t its things, although once it settles into a bend things are relaxed, the emphasis firmly on the front wheels. Push on and it ultimately descends into understeer, the front wheels pushing wide from your chosen arc.

Grip levels from the 16-inch Kumho tyres are okay, although some squirming and squealing joins the equation if you’re too eager. It’s a car comfortable at modest speeds but one that gets woolly as the pace increases.

There’s also work needed for the stability control tune, on the front-drive models at least. Tip into a corner enthusiastically and you’re likely to get a big dab of brakes, the electronics deciding things need to be shut down. It’s aggressive and overbearing, the resultant on-again, off-again braking leading to plenty of head-nodding.

The step up to four-wheel drive also switches the front-drive’s torsion beam rear suspension for a more sophisticated multi-link setup. In the process that seems to quell those stability control issues. In the larger, longer XLV it’s a more mature feel, the electronics more in tune with what’s going on.

Does It Have A Spare?

Front-wheel drive models get a space-saver spare, while the all-wheel drive Ultimate gets a full-sized wheel and tyre.

Can You Tow With It?

The Tivoli is rated to tow up to 1000kg with the petrol engine or 1500kg with the diesel. Even limited to one tonne the petrol engine would be working very hard; we’d limit whatever it is you want to drag along to tinnies and box trailers. The diesel’s torque will do a better job but, even then, think smaller items to hitch behind it.

What About Ownership?

SsangYong has introduced a seven-year warranty that has no cap on how far you can travel. It’s all about offering peace of mind over most of its rivals (Kia being the exception, with its identical factory warranty). Servicing costs are still being finalised, though.

What Safety Features Does It Have?

The Tivoli is a prime example of how quickly advanced active safety technology is flowing into more affordable cars. Even the base model picks up AEB, which can automatically apply the brakes to avoid a collision. It only works up to 45km/h, so is more useful in heavy traffic rather than on freeways.

A forward-facing camera also keeps an eye on lane markings, warning the driver and assisting with mild steering input as required. There are also seven airbags, including side curtains and a driver’s knee airbag, but the Tivoli has not yet been assessed by ANCAP.

Editor's Rating

How do we rate the interior and practicality?
How do we rate the controls and infotainment?
How do we rate the performance?
How do we rate the ride and handling?
How do we rate the safety?
Practical Motoring Says: By small SUV standards the Tivoli packs plenty in, including space and features. What it lacks in pizazz it makes up for with functionality and value, the seven-year warranty a win for those chasing peace of mind. But the Tivoli loses polish once you hit the road, its occasionally sloppy manners and underwhelming drivetrain more about getting the job done that pushing any buttons.

Toby Hagon

Toby Hagon

From Porsches to LandCruisers, Toby Hagon loves all things cars and has been writing about them for more than 20 years. He loves the passion and people that help create one of the world's most innovative and interesting industries. As well as road testing and chasing news he more recently co-authored a book on Holden. These days he crosses the world covering the industry but still loves taking off on the Big Trip in Australia.