The Ssangyong Tivoli SUV has been something of a hit for the Korean car maker, driving UK sales UK thanks largely to its combination of decent quality, impressive ownership costs (boosted by a five-year, limitless-mileage warranty) and extremely tempting asking price.
The Ssangyong Tivoli XLV is the latest step in the model's evolution, in this guise getting nearly 24cm extra length behind its rear seats compared with the standard Tivoli. The boot has grown in size quite considerably as a result.
The XLV is sold only in higher trim levels and there is no petrol engine option, just Ssangyong's 113bhp 1.6-litre diesel. Standard equipment includes leather seats, climate control, sat-nav, keyless entry and seven airbags.
While the XLV is expensive by Tivoli standards, it isn't compared with its closest rivals. UK prices are yet to be confirmed, but expect them to start from around £17,000, which easily undercuts similarly powerful and well-equipped versions of rivals such as the Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar and Skoda Yeti. Roughly speaking, you will pay a premium of around £1000 for an equivalent Tivoli XLV over a Tivoli.
What is the 2016 Ssangyong Tivoli XLV like to drive?
Despite the extra length and subsequent weight, the XLV drives much like its smaller sibling – which is to say adequately, without ever straying into being truly impressive.
Ssangyong's diesel engine is ultimately strong enough for town and motorway work, but there's a fairly pronounced delay when you press the accelerator pedal before the turbocharger kicks in. The engine's best work is done in a fairly narrow rev band, which means you have to change gear quite a lot. It's also noisy pretty much all the time, and it sends noticeable vibration back through the steering wheel and pedals.
Using the six-speed manual gearbox isn't particularly pleasant, either. It requires a good push out of gear and then another more precise shove to snick into the next. The automatic gearbox is more pleasant, providing decently slick shifts and a smoother driving experience, but it comes at a price premium of around £1000, and with knock-on effects reducing fuel economy and raising emissions.
Our test car was also fitted with four-wheel drive, but the system stays in front-wheel drive unless it senses a loss of traction. We only drove it on the road so we couldn't assess its off-road prowess, but given that most buyers will likely avoid any off-road driving, the price premium for all-wheel drive needs careful consideration.
None of the available settings cure the rather vague steering, and the steering wheel is also overly keen to centre itself. But once you've settled the XLV into a bend, it does keep its body decently upright.
The trade-off for this is a slightly harsh ride, not helped by the XLV getting sizeable 18in alloys as standard. Low-speed abrasions cause it to fidget and sharp-edged bumps shake the car's occupants - and both can be an issue on the UK's broken roads. At a fast cruise there's also a slightly annoying amount of road noise, plus some wind noise whipping around the XLV's windscreen and door mirrors.
What is the 2016 Ssangyong Tivoli XLV like inside?
The interior is where the case for the Tivoli XLV gathers some real momentum. The driver sits quite high even in the seat's lowest setting, but the steering wheel has plenty of adjustment and the front seats are supportive.
Rear seat space is among the best in class; even taller adults will find their knees well clear of the front seatbacks and their heads a way from the ceiling. That said, squeezing a third passenger in between them would make shoulder room a bit tight.
The 720-litre boot that Ssangyong is keen to shout about should be taken with a pinch of salt, because that measurement is actually taken from the boot's base right to the XLVs roof (in most rivals this measurement is taken from the boot floor to the tonneau cover). Even so, it should be more than enough for most familes and compares well to the standard Tivoli's 423 litres.
The XLV doesn’t come with a spare wheel as standard (an inflation kit is included, a spare is optional) and in this state its boot is slightly wider and deeper than those of its closest rivals. There is a fairly big lip at the entrance, but at least with the 60/40 split folding rear seats folded down and the standard height-adjustable boot floor set accordingly, you get a virtually flat extended load bay.
Thanks in part to its standard leather seats, the XLV's interior feels more inviting that its low price might suggest. Okay, it's not class-leading, but there's enough soft, textured plastic on the dashboard – especially considering the price. A 7.0in TomTom-based sat-nav infotainment system is standard; it isn't the most responsive system around but it is largely easy to use.
Should I buy one?
The XLV's ride and handling are average at best and it's also frustratingly noisy in the cabin due to the incursion of engine and road noise. Claimed fuel economy is competitive, but a range-best of 117g/km CO2 emissions isn't impressive.
Despite that, it is impossible to ignore the fact that any XLV is many thousands of pounds cheaper to buy than an equivalently powerful, similarly well-equipped Qashqai, Kadjar or Yeti. It also offers as much passenger space and more luggage room. Keep the XLV as cheap as possible and there's good reason to consider buying one.
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What Car? says…
2016 Ssangyong Tivoli XLV 1.6 D manual
Engine size 1.6-litre diesel
Price from £17,000 (est)
Torque 221lb ft
0-62mph 12.0 seconds
Top speed 109mph (limited)
Fuel economy (official) 62.8mpg
CO2 output 117g/km