But more important than the Indian conglomerate’s bankrolling of the project was the nature of the car.
Following on from the Korando, the Tivoli was further confirmation that South Korea’s third-largest car maker could move from producing redundant, ugly SUVs that no one wanted to the kind of affordable, easy-on-the-eye soft-roaders that everyone does.
By Ssangyong’s measure, the Tivoli has been a roaring success – enough to convince the firm that the original pumped-up supermini concept can be inflated even further. Consequently, we now have this: the Tivoli XLV.
Previewed by the seven-seat XLV-Air concept in Frankfurt last year (sadly, the two jump seats have gone), the ‘eXciting Lifestyle Vehicle’ is a larger version of the Tivoli and, according to its maker, the first of a new class: the SUV-estate.
That aside, the XLV’s advantages are obvious: having gently muscled in on territory occupied by household names such as the Nissan Juke, Ssangyong now wants (with minimum investment) to take on larger rivals such as the Skoda Yeti by enhancing the Tivoli’s practicality.
In the UK, with the choice limited to a single diesel engine, the XLV goes on sale with a starting price of £18,250.
There’s the option of four-wheel drive and a manual gearbox to consider, but we drove the car in front-drive automatic format. That combination will need to be compelling to impinge on a price bracket that includes the all-conquering Nissan Qashqai and even entry-level versions of the recently lauded Seat Ateca.
Time to find out if the eXciting Lifestyle Vehicle lives up to its name.