SsangYong Tivoli review 2021

The Tivoli is SsangYong’s most compact model, and is a small crossover rivalling the Nissan Juke

£12,982
Average price
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1
Out of 5

Pros

  • Low prices
  • Lots of standard equipment
  • Long warranty

Cons

  • Not very practical
  • Very thirsty petrol engines
  • Rivals are better to drive
  • MPG

    40 - 47

  • CO2

    135 - 157 g/km

Model review

Ssangyong might be a lesser-known company here in the UK, but those that will have heard of it will likely have done so because of its range of SUVs. Much like Jeep and Land Rover, this is all it sells, and though its models have never sold in huge numbers, it’s found its feet with buyers wanting good value, fuss-free motoring – something models like the Korando and Rexton have done well at, 

But in 2015 there came a slight shift from SsangYong, as it saw the introduction of the Tivoli – a far smaller crossover-like vehicle that aimed to take advantage of this increasingly popular segment, dominated by models like the Nissan Juke and Renault Captur. 

Revealed at the Geneva Motor Show that year, sales would begin later in the year, with the model bringing a bold design, class-leading levels of safety features and the promise that it would hugely build SsangYong’s sales. Diesel and 4x4 models would follow after the main launch. A roomier XLV version then came along with a larger boot, though would later be discontinued. The range has received various tweaks and special editions throughout its time on sale.

Latest model

The most recent update to the Tivoli came in 2020. Though SsangYong calls it a ‘model year update’, it actually seems to be a lot more than that, considering it got a pair of new petrol engines and an overhauled diesel

Inside, it gets a new 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster on top-spec models (as seen on the new Korando), along with a pair of new infotainment systems as well, measuring up to nine inches. It also benefited from light styling changes, including a sharper front end design and upgraded range of alloy wheels. 

Value for money

SsangYong has always prided itself on its cars’ value for money, and by class standards the Tivoli certainly offers good value. With prices starting from £14,345, it’s one of the most affordable ways of getting behind the wheel of a new crossover, while standard equipment still includes keyless entry, cruise control and Bluetooth. However, if your budget will allow it really is worth making the jump to the £17,345 Ventura model. It might seem quite a hefty price increase, but it does get you a lot for your money, such as alloy wheels, a touchscreen, heated seats, a heated steering wheel and a reversing camera. We’d stick with this trim level, as at more than £20,000 for the top-spec model, it begins to knock on the door of far more upmarket rivals. 

The Tivoli is an even more affordable option on the market, with used examples starting from around £6,500 at the time of writing for a relatively tidy example. You can also expect to save a decent amount on a nearly-new model too, with around £2,000 available off a delivery mileage example, making this SsangYong even better value for money. 

Looks and image

When the Tivoli arrived in 2015 it was arguably the South Korean firm’s most stylish model to date, and even half a decade later, it’s still able to hold its own. Helped by recent changes to the front end, it offers sharp lines, neat LED lights at the front and rear, and is something refreshingly different to many in this class. You’ll probably want to skip the entry-level EX version, due to its lack of alloys. 

Inside, if you want the best Tivoli, you’ll want to choose the Ultimate. That’s because this gets a larger nine-inch touchscreen, along with a digital instrument cluster that’s undoubtedly one of the best in this segment. Lesser trims are a bit bland, though, with outdated-looking climate settings and plenty of cheap interior materials that seem to justify the model’s low price. 

Where the Tivoli does fall short, however, is behind the wheel. It’s not helped by not being offered with a particularly appealing engine, but with its combination of soft-sprung suspension that makes it jiggly as well as having uninspiring handling, it’s not a model you’ll ever enjoy driving. On the plus side, it’s quite good around town, thanks to good visibility and a tight turning circle. 

Space and practicality

When it comes to practicality, the Tivoli is quite middling by class standards. While there’s a decent amount of space in the back for taller adults – especially when compared to superminis – the boot isn’t especially practical. While SsangYong claims 393 litres, it doesn’t actually seem that big, with a high load lip and shallow entry making it no more useful than something like a Ford Fiesta. 

Its four-star safety rating is quite average, too, though you do get plenty of standard safety features, including autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist and traffic sign recognition. 

Engines

SsangYong offers three engines on the Musso – two petrol and one diesel. 

A 126bhp 1.2-litre petrol engine kicks off the range, and is combined with a six-speed manual gearbox. If you want something with a bit more performance, there’s a turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol, which produces 161bhp, though isn’t actually significantly quicker. There’s the choice of a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic here too. 

If you’d prefer a diesel, SsangYong offers a 134bhp 1.6-litre unit, which again gets the choice of manual and automatic transmissions. All new Tivolis also come with front-wheel-drive, though a four-wheel-drive option was offered in the past if this is something that’s a must. 

Running costs

If you want to bring down your running costs, without a doubt the best option is the diesel. SsangYong claims it will return 50.4mpg, along with CO2 emissions of 148g/km. 

Both petrol versions are very thirsty, though, struggling to return even 40mpg, while also having rather high CO2 emissions for a car of this size. You might notice insurance premiums are a bit pricier than rivals too, because of its high insurance groups. 

Things to look out for

Due to the Tivoli selling in quite small numbers, there isn’t a great deal known about its reliability, though the only thing we reckon you should look at are any signs of wear or damage on the interior as it’s not especially hard-wearing. 

You should be reassured by the fact SsangYongs come with a seven-year, 150,000-mile warranty, which is one of the longest available on any car, and transfers between owners too. 

Rivals

The Tivoli sits in one of the most competitive new car segments around, though few can rival its affordability. So if you want a model that sits at the lower-price end of the spectrum, you should take a look at the Dacia Duster or MG ZS

Better-rounded options in this class include the Renault Captur, Peugeot 2008, Ford Puma and Seat Arona, all of which have the Tivoli beaten in most key areas. 

Depreciation

SsangYong doesn’t have the same level of street cred as some rivals, and it’s why its models generally do depreciate quite heavily. It does mean you can pick up bargain used examples, though, while decent savings can be had off nearly-new examples too. 

Which Tivoli to pick

Cheapest to buy when new

1.2P EX 5dr

Most MPG

1.2P EX 5dr

Fastest model (0-60)

1.2P EX 5dr

Trims explained

Four trim levels are now available on the Tivoli, with equipment highlights and prices are as follows.

EX

Standard equipment on the Tivoli includes cruise control, keyless entry, 16-inch steel wheels with plastic covers and air conditioning. Plenty of driver assistance kit is also provided, including autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist and traffic sign recognition. You also get a trip computer, electric windows, electric and heated door mirrors, DAB radio, Bluetooth and LED daytime running lights.

From £14,345

Ventura

We’d recommend upgrading to the Ventura, as it brings 16-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats and an eight-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You also get a heated leather steering, rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, automatic lights and wipers, roof rails, additional airbags and LED front fog lights.

From £17,345

Ultimate

Upgrade to the high-spec Ultimate to get leather seats, electric folding mirrors and dual-zone climate control. It also features 18-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels and a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster.

From £20,345

Ultimate Nav

Right at the top of the range, the Ultimate Nav gets you a larger nine-inch touchscreen with a TomTom satellite navigation.

From £20,845

Summary

  1. SsangYong’s smallest crossover
  2. Stylish design
  3. Crossover for supermini money
  4. Decent standard equipment levels
  5. Not very good to drive
  6. Long warranty
  7. Thirsty petrol engines
  8. Interior isn’t especially roomy
  9. Good engine and trim choice
  10. Worth considering for its price, but far better rivals are available
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