The new Tivoli is Ssangyong's bargain-priced competition for the Nissan Juke and Citroën C4 Cactus. It's made by South Korea’s own 4x4 brand - the same people who brought you the Musso, Korando and Rexton.
Going on sale as just about every other car maker in the universe launches a pumped-up supermini, it’s got a lot to do just to announce its presence on the European scene. However, Ssangyong's aggressive, value-for-money positioning should help.
This entry-level Tivoli in SE trim gets seven airbags, 16in alloys, cruise control, Bluetooth and USB connectvity and plenty of power, for a price that undercuts smaller and less well-endowed rivals; in some cases, by thousands of pounds.
It looks better value still as you move up the model ladder. Mid-range EX spec gains heated front seats, dual-zone climate-control, 18in alloys, full leather interior and a 7in touchscreen with reversing camera. Range-toppng ELX trim further adds keyless-go, front and rear parking sensors, sat-nav and automatic headlights and wipers.
Those who want a compact crossover with proper SUV features such as heated leather seats, an automatic gearbox or four-wheel drive often find they’re available only on headline versions of these junior utility vehicles, some of them priced on the far side of £20,000.
However, the Tivoli offers four driven wheels from just over £17,500, a six-speed automatic 'box from less than £16,000, and both heated leather and 18in wheels as standard for less than £15,000.
The firm’s done its financial homework, too, and is offering super-affordable, pay-monthly PCP deals from less than £170-a-month, underwritten by lenders already willing to take a punt that residual values on the car will be competitive.
Ssangyong’s claim that the new car's design is eye-catching, probably has more credibility in its native Korean market than in Europe. Here, the likes of the Nissan Juke and Citroën C4 Cactus make the Tivoli look derivative. That said, it’s a sufficiently competent and contemporary-looking car to merit a closer look.
The cabin’s chief virtue is its space. Occupant room in both rows is close to class-leading and easily generous enough for larger adults. Getting in and out is easy thanks to the raised seating level. Even without sliding the back seats, the boot will accommodate 423 litres of stuff, making the car one of the more useful of its kind. The boot’s fairly short but also square, wide and tall, and for anyone requiring significant boot space, Ssangyong also sells the Tivoli XLV, offering an extended rear end for more space, though still only a five-seater.