2018 SsangYong Tivoli
SsangYong Tivoli is yet another entry into the already rather crowded small to medium SUV range in Australia. The South Korean company has been importing SUVs and pickup trucks here on and off for several years, with the Rexton and Musso.

Tivoli is offered in two or four wheel drive, with petrol or diesel engines and – an unusual one this – comes in two lengths. They are the same shape for most of their bodies, but the Tivoli XLV is 245mm longer in the tail to provide extra legroom in the rear seats and a significantly larger boot.

Ssangyong has undercut the price of its immediate Japanese and Korean rivals by moderate amounts as part of its desire to establish a solid foothold Downunder.

Showing that it’s here to stay SsangYong Australia provides a seven year, unlimited distance warranty on the Tivoli. The South Korean automobile maker is aiming to expand to 50 dealers in Australia by the end of the year. These will look after not only the new Tivoli, but also the just-introduced lengthened version of its Musso pickup truck.

Servicing costs on the Tivoli are a pretty reasonable $322 a year (or 15,000km, whichever comes first) on the turbo-diesel model and $290 for the petrol.

2018 SsangYong Tivoli

That’s the good news, the bad news is that the 2019 model Tivoli is due to be superseded next year. We’re not sure of timing but it might be an idea to talk to a SsangYong dealer if you’re considering current model Tivoli. Either to do you a good deal on today’s model, or perhaps offer a good trade-in if you choose to change to the new one.

We really like the shape of Tivoli’s body. It has a squared-off look that’s pleasantly different to the current crop of mainly lookalike SUVs. Obviously beauty is in the eye of the beholder but we like, it as did everyone we showed it to.

The styling inside is somewhat out of date, but looks attractive enough. However the materials on the dash in particular are plain and show serious evidence of cost cutting.

Every model in the SsangYong Tivoli comes with double DIN radio that is Bluetooth and iPod compatible and a 7.0-inch touchscreen with a rear view camera. They have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

2016 Toyota Prius interior

ANCAP safety testing gave the Tivoli only four-stars, possibly because the age of the design meant it didn’t stand up well. It will be interesting to see what the 2020 model brings. The current model has seven airbags; a rear-view camera; forward-collision alert, with autonomous emergency braking; lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist.

Tivoli petrol power comes from a 1.6-litre four-cylinder, it has just 94kW of power, and top torque of 160Nm peaks at a very high 4600rpm – revs that typical owners will seldom see.

Much better is the turbo-diesel in your test Tivoli. It is a four-cylinder 1.6-litre unit that produces maximum power of 85kW between 2400 and 4000 revs. Torque is a useful 300 Nm which sits in the rev range of 1500 to 2500 rpm, meaning most drivers will have peak torque virtually all the time. Its fuel consumption rating is 5.9 litres per hundred kilometres on the front drive model, rising significantly to 6.3 litres on the AWD.

Transmissions are six-speed manual and six-speed automatic.

There’s a surprising amount of interior space front and rear thanks to the aforementioned squared-off body. Four adults can be carried in comfort, five with a fair bit of squeezing. The rear of the stretched model is positively cavernous for this class.

The engine is apparently aimed at gentle drivers chasing economy – it doesn’t want to pick up speed from rest, with turbo lag that seems to last for seconds. Give it too much welly, though, and it likely to give a bit of a squeal from the front tyres when it finally gets the message. (As an economical driver I find it well suited to my style, if you’re in the dart-about in-traffic driver class you may be caught short from time to time…)

The six-speed automatic transmission is generally in the right gear for the occasion and we rarely found any need to override its ratio choices.

Diesel fuel consumption was in the seven to nine litres per hundred kilometres range about town dropping to the low sixes on the motorway and on level country roads. We had expected better in a vehicle of this size.

Comfort is good thanks to the large seats that support well and the ride is kept under control. Which probably doesn’t come as a surprise as many roads we have driven on in South Korea have seen better days.

Road noise is noticeable in coarse-chip country roads and concrete motorway surfaces, but if used as an about town car Tivoli is fine.

Handling is surprisingly good for this class. It’s no sports machine but answers well to steering and throttle inputs.

SsangYong Tivoli is an attractive small SUV with good interior space, a seven-year warranty and lowish servicing costs. It’s offered at a good price, particularly with the turbo-diesel engine. On the other hand it’s near the end of its life and it’s pretty safe to assume its replacement next year will be significantly better.


EX petrol: $22,990 (manual), $23,990 (automatic)
ELX petrol: $26,990
ELX diesel: $27,990
Ultimate diesel: $32,990
Note: These are drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (SsangYong Tivoli XLV 1.6-litre turbo-diesel five-door wagon)

Capacity: 1.597 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 84 kW @ 3400 rpm
Maximum Torque: 300 Nm @ 1500 rpm
Fuel Type: Diesel
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 5.9 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 154g/km

DRIVELINE: Six-speed automatic

Length: 4440 mm
Wheelbase: 2600 mm
Width: 1798 mm
Height: 1635 mm
Turning Circle: metres
Kerb Mass: 1425 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 47 litres

Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc

Seven years / unlimited kilometres

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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