SsangYong needed room to improve - and it has
The Nissan Juke and other junior crossovers have a strong competitor in their class, the SsangYong Tivoli, and now the Korean manufacturer is squaring up to king Tucson, Qashqai, Peugeot 3008 and others in this bracket with the Tivoli XLV. Bulkier and more spacious than the Tivoli, the XLV stands for eXciting Lifestyle Vehicle.
The looks may not be that exciting, shades of the unliked styling of the Rodius at the rear, but it is very functional and more spacious than rivals.
On the same wheelbase as the Tivoli but with a longer rear overhang, the big difference is the boot space and more rear legroom. The boot area now runs to 720 litres and over 1,490 with the rear seats folded.
The Tivoli was a pleasant surprise and the XLV version, with much the same running gear, will tick a lot of boxes for families who seek more room and extra equipment. And SsangYong is not stopping there - expect to see a new Rexton, an updated Rodius and a Korano Sport in the near future as the company capitalises on the high reputation on the other Korean manufacturers, the cousin Hyundai and Kia.
Up front, the styling is the same as the Tivoli apart from a new bumper design. The rear has been stretched with a longer overhang that gives carrying capacity that is better than the Skoda Superb combi, and SsangYong boast that it has 200 litres more space than the Kia Sportage and the Hyundai Tucson. The company has confirmed that there are no plans at the moment for a seven-seater option.
The top seller will be the 1.6 litre 115bhp diesel two-wheel drive with six-speed manual transmission which attracts €200 road tax and has a claimed fuel consumption of 4.5L/100km (60mpg). There is 300Nm of torque on tap which makes for good flexibility from low revs and a good mid-range performance.
There is also an automatic option and a 4-wheel-drive version which electronically sends power to front and rear wheels depending on road surfaces and driving conditions. This will suit those who take the great outdoors more seriously.
There is a good level of equipment, heated seats, roof rails, dual-zone climatic air conditioning, Sat/Nav, keyless start, iPhone connection, rear-view camera and seven airbags. Heavier by over 50kg than the Tivoli, the diesel handles the weight well and performance should be adequate for most drivers.
Prices range from €24,700 to €29,000 for this grown-up version of the Tivoli of which SsangYong boasts has sold 70,000 since it was launched.
The versatility of the interior will be a big selling point and although the trim may not be as smart as some rivals, the driving position is good and all controls are within easy reach.
On the road the drive is sure-footed and the suspensions iron out the bumps and ruts reasonably well, despite the extra bulk and big wheels. Engine noise is well muted apart from the usual diesel clatter when starting up, but on the road the harshness eases off and the XLV gives a rewarding driving experience.