SsangYong has always been a left-field choice among all segments. With an all SUV line-up, the brand should be one step ahead of its key rivals, considering that SUVs and crossovers are currently flavors of the month, right? Well, not really. You see, it’s a brand that has struggled to resonate with Filipino consumers, presumably due to its Chinese sounding name. It is, however, Korean in origin. We’ve reviewed numerous SsangYongs already, especially the Tivoli line of small SUVs so we’re no stranger to their vehicles. The Tivoli has always been one of the brand’s nicer offerings to date. Much has been said about its design, and it’s a well-told one since the design has almost been universally praised by everyone, even those who found it unfamiliar.
For 2019, SsangYong has given it a very mild facelift, which includes a revised front and rear bumper, as well as new color combinations. This Techno Gray with the contrasting black roof and wheels look really great on this car. Dare I say it, it’s one of the nicest small crossovers out there. There’s some bright LED daytime running lights, as well as cool LED tail lights. I really do hope that SsangYong has opted for LEDs instead of halogens for the headlights, as this will really complete the car’s modern look.
Inside is where the nicest improvements have been made. Just look at that luscious brown Nappa Leather interior. It’s so smooth and plush to the touch, though the seats themselves could be a little bit softer. It even has some swanky quilting to go with the upholstery. But that’s about it. There’s not much in the way of soft-touch materials or excellent build quality since there are too many wide panel gaps in many places. Though it must be noted that it all feels well screwed together.
There’s plenty of storage areas, too, including a ginormous glove box, generous center console bin, and two cupholders in each front door. The trunk is spacious, with 425 liters of space, which is among the biggest in its class. It’s expandable to 720 liters, thanks to the 60-40 split folding rear seats, but there is a lip from the trunk when the seats are folded, making it difficult to push things further inside.
Space for people is also quite good. The back seats are really nice and well padded, and so are the front seats. This Premium Sport variant is equipped with a power adjustable driver’s seat, but for all the seat’s generous adjustments, the deal breaker for some people here is the steering wheel, which only tilts, but not telescopes.
Speaking of equipment, this top trim Tivoli Premium Sport is generously kitted out with features such as passive entry with push-button start, two-zone climate control, LED daytime running lights and LED tail lights, and get this, it even has heated and ventilated seats, which is useful when you’ve left the car under the sun for too long.
It also comes with this Android-based infotainment system, which I hate. Just like in my other reviews with cars using an infotainment system like this, it’s very distracting and unintuitive to use. Sure, you may not be using your smartphone while driving, but you basically bolted an Android tablet onto the dashboard, which is more or less the same thing.
Other 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 wish that manufacturers offer electronic stability control as standard regardless of class and price.
The Tivoli is powered by a 1.6 liter inline-4 petrol engine with dual continuously variable valve timing (D-CVVT), which produces 128 hp @ 6,000 rpm and 160 Nm of torque @ 2,800 rpm. It is mated to an Aisin-sourced 6-speed automatic transmission, powering the front wheels. All-wheel drive is not available.
Now, out in the open road, the Tivoli provides a somewhat sporty driving character, thanks to a quick steering rack with a good on-center response and a suspension that keeps body roll in check. There’s not much in the way of feedback, but it’s one of the sportier offerings out there. The steering has numerous modes, which as far as I’m concerned almost makes no difference at all. Plus, there’s also a drive mode selector, which I left in normal all the time.
Unfortunately, just like in a similar petrol-powered Tivoli I reviewed before, the Aisin-sourced transmission is a bit of a hit and miss. For the most part, it downshifts quite eagerly, but its throttle response isn’t smooth, jerking the car forward slightly. Responsive it is, but smooth it ain’t.
The ride isn’t anything to write home about, either. It’s firm and can be easily upset by road bumps, not helped by the good looking 19-inch alloy wheels. At least refinement is quite good, with well-insulated wind and road noise, though the engine sounds coarse under high revs. If anything, the diesel-powered Tivoli XLV drives and rides much better. The XLV, with its diesel engine, also more fuel efficient, as this one only did 9.4 km/l, not exactly stellar nor disappointing for its class. Additionally, the XLV also has a bigger interior, which has been mostly dedicated for the rear passengers and trunk space. Take the Tivoli XLV for a test drive to see if it fits your needs better.
Pricing for the 2019 Tivoli starts at P1,130,000, while this Premium Sport Touring tops out at P1,160,000. We recommend splurging for this top spec Premium Sport already since there’s merely P30,000 that separates the two variants, which gets you premium Nappa Leather upholstery, as well as heated and ventilated seats, which is well worth the P30,000 premium. Whichever variant you choose, all are generously equipped with creature comforts and comes with free three-year maintenance, which should prove easy for ownership costs.
The SsangYong Tivoli is a crossover that’s packed with style and creature comforts. Its stylistic design is like what I said in the beginning, already a well-told one, but in the end, it needs more than just style in order to succeed in a highly competitive market. More than features and a good-looking product, customers also look for great aftersales service and a comprehensive dealer network, which is what the brand is working for in the long term.
Pricing and Rating
Exterior Design: ★★★★★
Interior Design: ★★★★☆
Space and Practicality: ★★★★☆
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★☆
Value For Money: ★★★★☆
Overall: 4.2 out of 5