SsangYong has grown quite significantly over the past, especially since Mahindra’s acquisition of the Korean brand, which has helped spark a revolution of its products inside the company. With a line-up entirely dedicated to SUVs, SsangYong definitely has the line-up to be able to capitalize with the booming SUV demand around the world. Now, I was able to review the Tivoli about a year ago, and was left impressed by its style and commendable driving dynamics. Now, what if you wanted that same formula, but with practicality and space dialled up to 11? Say hello to the SsangYong Tivoli XLV ELX.
The standard Tivoli is a stylish small SUV, probably even one of the best looking subcompact crossovers out there. Now, this XLV has been elongated quite significantly, giving it a more mature stance compared to the standard Tivoli. Even so, this XLV variant is still quite an unexpected head turner. Up front, you have this slim grille design that is carefully flanked by HID headlights with LED daytime running lights. As it is now longer, the lines have been reworked to give the Tivoli XLV a more purposeful silhouette. It looks more like a tall wagon rather than an SUV. Swanky 18-inch alloy wheels provide excellent design proportions for this car, and while the grey paint in this car isn’t exactly head turning, I reckon that making the roof and the wheels black would make this one of the sharpest looking small SUVs out there. Going at the back, and things start to get wonky for some people. While some are not a fan of the Tivoli XLV’s extended looks, I think that the back looks nicely integrated with the rest of the body. What isn’t working for me though is the awkwardly large “XLV” badge, which I think is something that’s better made smaller or away from the middle.
Like the exterior, the interior is more restrained in its color and design compared to the standard Tivoli. The dash is made of soft touch plastics, while the rest are made from the hard and scratchy ones, but at least the whole interior is well screwed together. The monotony of the predominantly black interior is broken by the addition of high gloss black finishes and faux metal trims. Soft black leather adorns the door panels, which are finished in a carbon fiber pattern. They’re nice to the touch, though I wish that the same material would also make it into the seats. Elsewhere, you get some red trims in the gauges and switches in the center stack. An LCD is sandwiched between the twin LED-lit gauges, providing key information at a glance. Perhaps my most favorite design detail is the flat bottomed steering wheel, which looks cool and highlights the Tivoli’s supposed sporty driving dynamics. More on that later.
Space and Practicality
If this metric is what you’re really after, then the Tivoli XLV has it in spades. Stretching the standard Tivoli has enabled this XLV version to provide one of the best rear seat space in its class. Legroom is very generous, though since the car is still quite narrow, space for three adults seated abreast is still a challenge.
It’s the same case with its trunk space. The standard Tivoli offers 423 liters of space with the back seats up, which is already quite generous. Stretching the Tivoli’s dimensions has increased that to a whopping 720 liters, which is already more than what you would get in many compact crossovers such as the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, just to name a few. This, however, comes at the expense of the spare tire. The removal of the spare tire has blessed it with an adjustable false floor, which is a contributing factor to its generous space.
Space up front is quite good too, with plenty of room to stretch out for the driver and front passenger. However, I must mention the elephant in the room, and it’s the lack of reach adjustment for the steering. While it tilts for rake adjustment, it doesn’t telescope for reach, and while I have no complaints in the driving position I have made, it proved to be weird for my father, who thinks the steering is too far for his liking, while the gas and brake pedals are too near for him.
Features, Safety, and Infotainment
The SsangYong Tivoli XLV is decently equipped. Standard features include passive entry with push button start, HID headlights with LED daytime running lights, LED tail lights, rear view camera, and a 7-inch Android-based touch screen system which supports AM/FM, CD, Bluetooth, AUX, USB, and MirrorLink. Being based on Android means that you have access to a Google Play Store, in which Waze is standard fitment in your dashboard.
Unfortunately, the Android-based system is fiddly to use. As it’s basically having an Android tablet glued to the dashboard, its user interface is not designed for use while driving. Aside from its graphical user interface (UI) which looks weird with crunchy and cartoonish graphics in some menus, stuff like connecting your phone through Bluetooth or changing the radio is a multi-step process buried under menus that oftentimes require looking away from the road too much. A redeeming feature is that a rear back-up camera can optionally be fitted, though rear parking sensors are standard.
SsangYong also fitted the Tivoli with Smart Steering and Smart Driving Modes. Smart Steering changes steering effort through the choice of three modes, though at least in this car’s application, the different modes all feels the same to me. Smart Driving Modes change the throttle and gearbox response. There are three modes, Economy, Winter, and Power. I just turned it off altogether and left it at normal the whole time, as it gives the best blend of fuel economy and smooth performance.
Standard safety features include dual airbags, and ABS with EBD. Though it is still rare in the subcompact SUV class to have standard stability control, we at Go Flat Out believe that car manufacturers should offer any form of stability control as standard.
Under the hood of this Tivoli XLV ELX 4WD is the segment’s only diesel engine. It’s a 1.6-liter mill that produces 115 hp @ 4,000 rpm and 300 Nm of torque @ 2,500 rpm. Power is sent through a 4WD system via a 6-speed automatic transmission.
How It Drives
Upon pressing the start button, the Tivoli breathes to life in a refined and quiet manner from the inside, but once you step out of the vehicle, the Tivoli’s diesel clatter is evident, sounding like a rattly blender when in throttle. Some of the quirks of the gas-fed Tivoli have been ironed out here. Last time, one of my major complaints was its unrefined automatic transmission, which often downshifted off throttle, making for some jolty engine braking and too eager downshifts. This is somewhat been rectified now here. The diesel engine and automatic transmission work well to provide the power you want and the efficiency you need. It still has the tendency to downshift in odd situations, but it’s a huge improvement compared to my past experience.
As expected with a diesel engine, overtaking proves to be less of a challenge. There’s is often a delay when you want to overtake someone, but once the boost is there, the Tivoli surges forward in a linear manner. Peak torque comes at 2,500 rpm, and the linear nature of this diesel engine means that you don’t have to rev the engine hard just to get the car moving.
While the diesel engine does wonders to the Tivoli’s driving dynamics, the longer dimensions also give it more stability, too. While it may sound weird that the longer, heavier Tivoli XLV drives better than the standard Tivoli, do note that this comes at the expense of some agility. In its place is a more stable and more composed driving experience. The suspension is still firm, since many small road imperfections still enter the cabin almost unfiltered, but the bigger bumps are now better dealt with. As a result of the firm suspension, body lean is well controlled, leaning more towards the sportier side of things. What detracts the Tivoli from being the class leader in terms of driving finesse is its numb steering. While it responds decently through your inputs, its still nowhere near as finely tuned as the one in the Mazda CX-3.
Highway manners are impressive to. The bigger body provides the Tivoli XLV with better stability compared to the standard model. As with a small crossover with a diesel engine, fuel economy is quite good, registering a peak average fuel economy figure of 12.4 km/l.
On The Downside
Many of the Tivoli’s downsides are levelled against its weird ergonomics. The controls for the gauges, Smart Steering, and Smart Driving Modes, are scattered all over the interior. While the Smart Driving Modes (E-W-P button) is thankfully where you’d expect it, located at the left of the steering clustered together with blank buttons I assume are for the missing traction control system, the Smart Steering is oddly located in the center console, together with the button for the hazards and (weirdly) the gauges. I kept looking for the rheostat knob that controls the gauge brightness and information the entire time. Least would I know it’d be located beside the hazard lights. Just to nitpick, remember that the Tivoli XLV ELX has passive entry with push button start. I find it weird for it to still have a jack knife key design, whereas others would have the metal key integrated into the key’s design.
Lastly, its list of safety features are disappointing, especially when you consider its P1,245,000 price tag. It only comes with the usual ABS with EBD and dual front SRS airbags, but apart from that, electronic stability control, which we always say in our reviews how important this safety feature is, is nowhere to be found. Curtain and side airbags are also missing, which many of its competitors now have.
Weird ergonomics and lack of safety features aside, the SsangYong Tivoli makes a strong case in the subcompact crossover SUV segment. Many Filipino motorists are swayed to a vehicle with a diesel engine, since running costs are kept low (this also comes with a free 3-year maintenance package), while the torque coming from such an engine is very welcoming indeed. While the standard Tivoli already offers a generous amount of space, this XLV version dials that up to 11. As a whole, the SsangYong Tivoli XLV ELX 4WD offers buyers a practical and spacious crossover SUV, wrapped in a stylishly design exterior. Fitting it with a diesel engine serves as the icing on top of a deliciously different cake. It’s not just SsangYong’s most compelling proposition, it’s also one of SsangYong’s finest vehicle to date.
Exterior Design: ★★★★☆
Interior Design: ★★★★☆
Space and Practicality: ★★★★★
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★★
Value For Money: ★★★★☆
Overall: 4.4 out of 5