New SsangYong Tivoli 2020 review

Can new looks and engines elevate the facelifted SsangYong Tivoli SUV?

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.5 out of 5

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This facelifted SsangYong Tivoli is definitely an improvement over the car it replaces. It’s a competent compact SUV with a much-improved interior, but it needed more to really stand out. The Tivoli’s price is usually its big selling point, but the cost of this top-spec Ultimate model ends up being its biggest downfall. 

This quality-focused facelift of the SsangYong Tivoli is part of a bid to push the SUV a bit further upmarket. Changes extend to a new range of engines, as well as updated looks, which include new foglamps and a larger grille. To our eyes, the result is a better-looking car than before, and it’s a world away from SsangYongs of the past.

There are big changes in the cabin, with the updated Tivoli taking much of the tech on offer in the larger Korando. The standout feature is the new digital cockpit on the top-spec Ultimate trim. It adds a customisable 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster and an 8.0-inch central infotainment screen, and looks as good as anything in this class.

The central facia below the screen, which was one of the most disappointing factors on the pre-facelifted model, has also been brought up to date. There are still some scratchy plastics on show, but it’s now no worse than many of its rivals.

A pair of new turbocharged petrol engines has joined the existing 1.6-litre diesel. These comprise an entry-level 1.2-litre three-cylinder unit, and the 1.5-litre four-cylinder option tested here with a six-speed automatic gearbox.

The engine produces 161bhp and it feels quick enough in most situations. Its peak torque of 250Nm is reached from just 1,500rpm, so the initial getaway can feel quite sprightly in a car this size, but the ponderous gearbox lets things down, and the torque disappears quickly.

Drive around town or down a country lane and the Tivoli’s Achilles heel comes to the fore – the ride. Hit any sort of bump and it sends a shudder through the cabin and knocks the chassis off line. The constant jiggling over the road surface can become quite intrusive and irritating.

The Tivoli is more at home when cruising along a smooth motorway. Engine noise is well suppressed and only really noticeable under hard acceleration.

The facelifted Tivoli range starts from just £13,995, significantly less than base-spec versions of the Nissan Juke (£17,440) and Skoda Kamiq (£18,295). However, jump up to this flagship Tivoli Ultimate model and the £21,495 asking price seems much less of a bargain. Put down a large deposit of just over £4,000 and it still costs £239 per month over a long five-year PCP deal.

Ultimate, which sits above EX, ELX and Ventura in the new-look range, does come packed with kit, though, including 18-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, a smart key with a stop/start button, dual-zone automatic air-conditioning, heated front seats, a reversing camera, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the digital cockpit among the standard luxuries.

Model: SsangYong Tivoli 1.5GDi-T Ultimate
Price: £21,495
Engine: 1.5-litre 4cyl turbo petrol
Power/torque: 161bhp/280Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic, front-wheel drive 
0-60mph: 9.0 secs (est)
Top speed: 108mph
Economy/CO2: 36.7mpg/175g/km
On sale: Now
Web producer

Pete has over 20 years journalistic experience. Having previously worked for Ladbrokes and the Racing Post, he switched from sports writing to automotive journalism when joining Auto Express in 2015.

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