Text and photos by Eric Tipan
With the rainy season upon us, now is the best time to be in the market for an SUV – you get better ground clearance and a higher vantage point when the rain starts coming down during the wet season.
Ssangyong’s return looks to shake things up, especially in the mini SUV market, with the introduction of the Tivoli that’s so competitively priced yet comes with features to rival more established models in the market.Priced at an affordable Php 945,000, let me detail why this is a solid option should you be looking to upgrade from a sedan.
The body of the Tivoli is instantly eye-grabbing.The new name and badge makes people double-take, but it’s the sum of all its uniquely designed parts that make them linger.
An uncanny flat roofline, reminiscent of the Soul, is what distinguishes the Tivoli versus competitors in the market. It starts with a sharp angle from the windscreen that makes for somewhat trapezoidal windows.
Big, bold shoulders atop the wheel wells give this mini SUV some much needed heft and presence to make it appear much bigger that its category suggests.
As a first-generation model launched globally in early 2015, the Tivoli brings a façade that seems ahead of its time with a minimalist grille flanked by large, wraparound projection headlights with LED daytime running lamps (DRLs).
A rear spoiler comes standard but the LED rear combination lamps somehow aren’t shaped to match the more advanced overall exterior design of the Tivoli.
FEATURES-PACKED FOR A MID-LEVEL TRIM
The Tivoli EXG comes with a keyless entry system but with key-in ignition. The cabin is more spacious, width- and height-wise, than others in the same segment with front and rear leather seats that can comfortably fit five people, maybe even squeeze in six.
The circumference of the Sporty D-Cut leather-bound steering wheel seems large for the vehicle size but it does provide ample space though to fit infotainment and telephone controls.
Hard plastic makes up the panels and the dashboard, while at the center is a glossy face to highlight the climate controls, trip computer, Smart Steering controls (Normal, Comfort, Sport) and seven-inch LCD touchscreen that acts as an interface to handle a variety of media. You can connect MP3 players, via USB and AUX-in, Bluetooth and even play DVDs. There’s also the option of mirroring media players. The software looks third-party, which may require a short learning curve if you’re not tech-savvy.
It may be a mini SUV, but sitting inside, there’s nothing about it that’s ‘mini’ at all. There’s plenty of elbow room even for the driver without losing any essential ‘smart’ features, and several pockets and cupholders to handle your daily devices and drinks. The buttons and switches are large enough to see and handle, so you don’t end up double-checking what you’re pressing.
CONSUMMATE CITY SUV
A four-cylinder 1.6L engine with Dual Variable Valve Timing and a compression ratio (CR) of 10:5:1 gives the Tivoli a palpable low-end boost, to make it agile and quite reactive to minimal throttle input. Response may be somewhat delayed, but it does not take away any of the fun you’ll get behind the wheel.
It feels great particularly coming from a full stop, which makes it an outstanding choice for city use but if you’re on Eco mode, you’ll have to rely on more accelerator pressure if you need more juice past the third gear. If you want it sprightly all through its six gears, set and keep the Smart Driving Mode on Power all the time to put all of its 128 PS and 160 Nm of torque at your beck and call. Winter mode – something you won’t really need here – will start the Tivoli in 2nd gear to prevent slippage on icy roads.
Aside from the added power, fuel efficiency has also improved because of the high CR resulting in fuel consumption of 8.4 kilometers per liter in mostly city driving.
THE NEW SUV IN TOWN
The Tivoli makes for a great drive in the metro because of its city-designed driving dynamics plus compact size and features like audible reverse sensors for safety and speed-sensing door locks.
Baggage for four people on a two-day trip was an easy fit with its sizable boot area that perfectly complements the vehicle’s generous cabin space.
With a price point that undercuts majority of its competitors while providing more by way of features, Ssangyong may not yet be a household name but it won’t be for long.
As a sub-1-million-peso mini SUV with high-end features, the Tivoli 1.6L 6AT EXG is changing the mini SUV category as we know it.