SsangYong Tivoli XLV manual 2016 review

Is the practical SsangYong Tivoli XLV better with a manual gearbox? We find out

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

The SsangYong Tivoli XLV makes much more sense in manual form, and this front-wheel drive version will be better than the 4x4 for most buyers. It's the most economical car in the range and, with the XLV version's huge boot not making an impact on the driving experience, the only real cost of choosing it is the £1,000 premium over a standard Tivoli in the same spec.

The SsangYong Tivoli XLV's blend of practicality and value for money means we liked the car the last time we drove it in the UK - but in pricey automatic 4x4 form we felt it just didn't make sense. Now, we've tried the cheapest ELX model in manual, front-wheel drive form.

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We suspected that this model would be the one to have and our drive on UK roads has confirmed it. The automatic version suffers from a slow-witted, irritating gearbox and in 4x4 form it can only manage 44.8mpg. While the manual gearbox isn't perfect, with a slightly notchy shift, it's much better and means you can easily keep control of the engine.

As the engine is so noisy, you'll want to use the impressive 300Nm of torque at low revs rather than revving it out - and the manual gives you that control. It makes the Tivoli XLV feel much more settled. The car rides fairly well, soaking up big bumps in the road, and the front-wheel drive model is actually slightly more comfortable than the 4x4 version too. There's not a huge amount in it, so if you need four-wheel drive the only real harm in choosing that option will be a slight hit to the economy. 

The Tivoli XLV is only available in ELX trim, which is the range-topper in the standard Tivoli range. It only costs £1,000 more for the XLV version too, which looks like good value when you consider the space on offer. An extra 245mm of bodywork over the rear wheels means the car has a 720-litre boot, measured from the floor to the roof. 

It makes the XLV one of the most practical cars in its class and, with decent rear legroom and cabin storage, it’s a fine family car. There's loads of kit for the money too, as all models come in ELX trim bringing sat-nav, dual-zone climate control, auto lights, auto wipers and leather trim as standard.

The materials used inside are fine, but the design just isn't particularly stylish. It's a similar story on the outside, where the basic shape of the car isn't too bad but the details make it look just a little awkward. 

If the styling is an issue for you then the standard Tivoli's shorter rear overhang means it's better looking - and still fairly practical. It's also available in several trim levels, so there's more choice there if you don't feel you need all the kit on the ELX version.

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