Car group tests

SsangYong Tivoli vs Suzuki Vitara

SsangYong has turned its back on its budget roots and joined the booming crossover market with its Tivoli. Can it fell the Suzuki Vitara?

SsangYong is ready to shake off its bargain-basement status and make a bold push upmarket. The Korean brand has forged a strong reputation for building no-nonsense SUVs and MPVs that prioritise rock-bottom prices ahead of sophistication and desirability.

Best crossovers

However, with the arrival of its bold Tivoli compact crossover, the company has mainstream competition in its sights.

The newcomer elegantly blends eye-catching looks with a smartly designed interior and a standard equipment list that would put even an executive saloon to shame, so it clearly means business. Yet these improvements don’t come at the expense of value, because the Tivoli boasts the same wallet-friendly pricing as other models in the SsangYong line-up.

Best family cars

However, this isn’t the only fashionable crossover with one eye on the bottom line. The Suzuki Vitara has already impressed in diesel guise on its road test debut, and now it’s the turn of the petrol model to prove that this was no fluke.

Featuring rugged looks, nimble handling and low running costs, the Suzuki makes an interesting alternative to workaday superminis and hatchbacks.

So, which of our tough-looking and great-value urban assault vehicles takes the spoils here?

SsangYong Tivoli review

Suzuki Vitara review

Read individual reviews by clicking the links above, and scroll down to see which crossover is crowned champ in this test...



Style and customisation are must-haves in the compact crossover class. The Tivoli’s design is certainly bold but hardly attractive, while the personalisation packs are only available on the flagship ELX. Suzuki has given the Vitara a less aggressive look, plus owners can specify a contrasting roof colour and interior trim inserts.

Badge appeal

The SsangYong name won’t mean much to UK buyers, but the ambitious brand is hoping the Tivoli’s low price, kit levels and warranty will attract new customers. By contrast, Suzuki is an established brand. However, the Vitara was a full-on 4x4 before becoming a crossover.

Four-wheel drive

Electronic all-wheel drive is available on diesel Tivolis, with prices ranging from £17,100 for the EX to £19,500 for the ELX auto. Suzuki’s ALLGRIP is only available in SZ5 guise, but can be paired with petrol or diesel engines. Prices start at £20,299.


1st place: Suzuki Vitara

In the final reckoning, it’s the Vitara that takes victory here. Not only is it faster, better to drive and more refined, but it costs less to buy and comes with all the kit you’ll need. Plus, it’s practical, robustly built and reasonably cheap to run. And while the interior looks and feels a little low rent in places, it’s less of a concern in this eye-catchingly priced entry-level model than in more costly flagship cars.

2nd place: SsangYong Tivoli

If you want the most bang for you buck, the lavishly appointed Tivoli is worth a look. Luxuries such as leather and heated seats are a real bonus in a crossover at this price point, as is the brand’s five-year warranty. Yet while the newcomer represents a decent step forward for the company, it still trails its rivals for refinement, while running costs are also a little high.

Other options in this category…

Citroen C4 Cactus 1.2 Feel

Price: £14,690 Engine: 1.2-litre 3cyl, 81bhp

Citroen C4 Cactus - front static

Boldly styled and cleverly packaged Citroen is comfortable, efficient and good value. Feel trim gets essentials such as air-con, Bluetooth and DAB, while low kerbweight makes three-cylinder a top performer.

Ford EcoSport 1.5 Zetec

Price: £14,245 Engine: 1.5-litre 4cyl, 110bhp

Recent revisions to the Ford EcoSport have improved the driving experience and looks. It still feels a little low rent inside and CO2 emissions of 149g/km are high, but Zetec spec is well equipped and attractively priced.

Key specs:

 Suzuki Vitara 1.6 SZ4SsangYong Tivoli 1.6 EX
On-the-road price/total as tested£13,999/£13,999£14,600/£14,600
Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000)£6,076/43.4%£6,628/45.4%
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£530/£1,060£691/£1,382
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£2,326/£3,887£2,023/£3,371
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost12/£361/D/£11014/£318/F/£145
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£178/£236/£218TBC
Engine4cyl in-line/1,586cc4cyl in-line/1,597cc
Peak power118/6,000 bhp/rpm126/6,000 bhp/rpm
Peak torque156/4,400 Nm/rpm160/4,600 Nm/rpm
Transmission5-spd man/fwd6-spd man/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel47 litres/foam47 litres/space saver
Boot capacity (seats up/down)375/710 litres423/N/A litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,075/655/1,200kg1,270/540/1,000kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient10.4 metres10.6 metres
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (60,000)/1yr5yrs (unltd)/1yr
Service intervals/UK dealers12,500 miles (1yr)/14910,000 miles (1yr)/68
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.31st/31stN/A
NCAP: Adult/child/ped./assist/stars89/85/76/75/5N/A
0-60/30-70mph9.1/9.0 seconds10.7/10.7 seconds
30-50mph in 3rd/4th5.5/8.8 seconds6.0/8.4 seconds
50-70mph in 5th/6th12.7 seconds/N/A11.4/16.2 seconds
Top speed/rpm at 70mph112mph/2,700rpm106mph/2,800rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph48.5/36.8/8.7m56.2/39.0/10.1m
Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph52/43/60/67dB59/40/61/70dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range27.3/6.0/282 miles31.4/6.9/325 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined44.8/58.8/53.3mpg34.5/52.3/44.1mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined9.9/12.9/11.7mpl7.6/11.5/9.7mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket239/123g/km/19%208/149g/km/24%
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/cameraSeven/yes/no/noSeven/yes/no/yes
Auto gearbox/stability/cruise controlNo/yes/yes£1,000/yes/yes
Climate control/leather/heated seatsYes/no/noYes/yes/yes
Metallic paint/xenon lights/keyless go£430/no/no£500/no/yes
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/BluetoothNo/yes/yes/yesNo/yes/no/yes

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