What is it?
Cast your mind back to last year's Frankfurt motor show and you may recall that Ssangyong revealed a concept dubbed the XLV (for Exciting Lifestyle Vehicle) Air. It was essentially an elongated version of the firm's small SUV, the Tivoli, which has since found approximately 63,000 homes around the world.
The Air Concept hinted at a seven-seat layout but the final production version we're driving here (in Spain) seats five without the option of adding a sixth or seventh perch. However, because the XLV has the same wheelbase as the standard Tivoli but nearly 24cm more length beyond its C-pillar, it now has a much larger boot, at a claimed 720 litres.
Ssangyong hopes the introduction of the XLV will take Tivoli-based sales nearer the 100,000 mark worldwide, although it feels UK buyers will expect a higher specification. As such, the XLV is only available with the firm's pricier 113bhp 1.6 e-XDi160 four-cylinder diesel, with manual or automatic gearboxes and the options of both two and four-wheel drive.
Standard equipment is generous, with features such as leather seats, climate control, sat-nav, keyless entry and seven airbags thrown in. As a result, while the XLV won't have a headline-grabbing entry price of the sorts enjoyed by its smaller stablemate, it should still start from around a very reasonable £17,000.
What's it like?
Despite being slightly larger and heavier than the standard Tivoli, there's little difference between the way the two drive. It remains average on the road, and considering the XLV's added space and practicality, you could argue that it now sits closer to rivals such as Skoda's Yeti and Renault's Kadjar, making its faults more prominent against these better-sorted rivals.
Ssangyong's 1.6 diesel has just enough get up and go to make for simple town driving, and overtaking can be done in confidence should the need arise. It's a fairly uneven power delivery though, and this is undoubtedly one of the noisiest diesel engines in its class, with considerable vibration sent back through the steering wheel, gear lever and pedals.
Few small SUVs prove engaging to drive, and the Tivoli XLV certainly doesn't change that. It manages to keep its body neat and tidy when asked to corner at speed, but none of the steering's three settings prove communicative, just unevenly weighted and too keen to self-centre.
The taut suspension also keeps the body nicely in check over crests, but the standard-fit 18in alloys make the ride fidgety at low speeds and motorway expansion joints send a thwack through the cabin. The XLV falls down on wind noise at higher speeds, too, which can be heard rushing around its mirrors, while the large alloys and tyres are a constant audible nuisance.
What it lacks on the road it makes up for inside. Four tall adults can sit comfortably, with the rear passengers enjoying excellent head and knee room and two-stage adjustable backrests. The driver sits a little high even with the seat set as far down as it'll go, but the generous steering wheel adjustment and decently supportive front seats make it acceptable.
When reading Ssangyong's press material you'd be hard pushed to miss the XLV's 720-litre boot figure - it's hammered home. In truth, that measurement is from the base of the boot to the roof, so not in line with the more common measurement taken from floor to tonneau cover. We're yet to be given the industry standard figure.