Car group tests

SsangYong Tivoli XLV vs Dacia Duster vs Suzuki Vitara

Which of these top-value SUVs from SsangYong, Suzuki and Dacia will get our vote?

SsangYong claims it’s invented a new niche with the Tivoli XLV. The Korean brand calls this an ‘SUV-estate’, but don’t be fooled by the name, because this is still a conventional crossover.

The XLV builds on the relatively successful recipe SsangYong developed with the standard Tivoli, so this larger model offers buyers more practicality but with similar styling and the same engine as its smaller stablemate. However, the increase in space has also ensured the price has risen, as the top-spec ELX 4x4 manual model we’ve lined up here costs £19,500.

Best crossovers on sale right now

While the regular Tivoli is positioned more at the budget end of the compact crossover spectrum, SsangYong is going after some larger, more established rivals with the XLV. It still offers affordability, though, which is why we’re pitching it against one of our favourite low-cost crossovers, the Dacia Duster 4x4. To take victory here, it’ll also have to beat the Suzuki Vitara, which is available with four-wheel drive and a 1.6-litre diesel, too.

In all-wheel-drive guise off-road ability is obviously important, but so are practicality, price and efficiency. Which of our crossovers serves up the best blend of these key qualities?

Head-to-head

Off-road modes

All three of our cars feature selective four-wheel drive, with the option to permanently lock in all-wheel drive. The Suzuki also gets different driving modes, including Snow and Mud and Sport. However, with its extra ground clearance it’s the Dacia that’s best suited to light off-roading. It feels agricultural, but there’s plenty of grip. 

Style v substance

The Dacia has good off-road ability and mixes this with some standout styling features. However, there’s no contrasting roof option as on the Tivoli XLV or Vitara. Both of these have more customisation options when it comes to the look of the car, with more highlights inside, too. 

Quality

For some the Dacia might feel a little cheap – but that’s because it is, and we mean that in a positive way. While quality might not be on a par with its rivals’, it’s not too far behind, yet the Duster is much more affordable and still offers plenty of practicality. 

Verdict 

First place: Dacia Duster

The minor updates Dacia has made to the Duster will be difficult to spot, yet the car’s charms in 4x4 spec mean it still blends on-road comfort with grip and stability in slippy conditions at an incredibly affordable price. Performance is only adequate, but with decent efficiency, plenty of room and a good kit list in Laureate trim, the Duster is still a great compact off-roader for the money. 

Second place: Suzuki Vitara

If you can sacrifice a little ride comfort, and value driving dynamics more, the Vitara is a fine crossover. It’s the most car-like here to drive, with a sharp chassis and steering, but its lack of boot space and higher price see it finish second. Strong efficiency despite the performance on offer is impressive, yet its firmer ride and high depreciation count against it. 

Third place: SsangYong Tivoli XLV

The brand’s built on what makes the regular Tivoli an appealing crossover and added even more practicality, but it’s more expensive as a result. The big boot will be useful, but while quality and refinement are fairly good, it’s not great to drive. It’s also the least efficient here, adding to higher running costs. We’d save some money and go for the two-wheel-drive model. 

Is it worth waiting for this model?

Vauxhall Mokka X 1.6 CDTi

Vauxhall Mokka X 2016 - Front Cornering

Due: October 2016Price: £21,565Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 134bhp

For around £1,000 more than the Tivoli, Vauxhall’s upgraded Mokka X Design Nav offers decent kit, including OnStar tech. The 4x4 set-up should add extra grip, while Apple CarPlay makes the car more usable.

Figures

 Dacia Duster Laureate dCi 110 4x4Suzuki Vitara 1.6 DDiS ALLGRIP SZ5SsangYong Tivoli XLV ELX 4x4
On-the-road price/total as tested£15,595/£16,940£22,049/£22,849£19,500/£20,400
Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000)£7,383/47.3%£8,125/36.9%£7,301/37.4%
Depreciation£8,212£13,924£12,199
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£746/£1,492£968/£1,936£972/£1,945
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,539/£2,564£1,353/£2,254£1,899/£3,166
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost11/£503/D/£11017/£503/C/£3018/£773/D/£110
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£430 (3yrs/30,000)£655 (3yrs)£221/£362/£221
    
Length/wheelbase4,315/2,673mm4,175/2,500mm4,440/2,600mm
Height/width1,695/1,822mm1,610/1,775mm1,635/1,798mm
Engine4cyl in-line/1,461cc4cyl in-line/1,598cc4cyl in-line/1,597cc
Peak power/revs 108/4,000 bhp/rpm118/3,750 bhp/rpm113/3,400 bhp/rpm
Peak torque/revs 260/1,750 Nm/rpm320/1,750 Nm/rpm300/1,500 Nm/rpm
Transmission 6-spd man/4WD6-spd man/4WD6-spd man/4WD
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel50 litres/space-saver47 litres/repair kit47 litres/repair kit
Boot capacity (seats up/down) 443/1,604 litres375/710 litres547 litres/N/A
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,325/550/1,500kg1,259/611/1,500kg1,505/555/1,500kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient10.4 metres/0.42Cd10.4 metres/N/A10.6 metres/N/A
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (60,000)/3yrs3yrs (60,000)/1yr5yrs (unlimited)/1yr
Service intervals/UK dealers12,000 miles (1yr)/12712,500 miles (1yr)/14912,500 miles (1yr)/63
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.4th/2nd19th/7thN/A
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./assist/stars74/78/28/29/3 (2011)89/85/76/75/5N/A
    
0-60/30-70mph14.7/15.4 secs10.1/9.6 secs11.6/11.6 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th N/A/5.0 secs3.8/7.0 secs4.7/7.1 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th 8.6/10.5 secs6.8/8.9 secs9.2/9.7 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph 104mph/2,500rpm112mph/1,800rpm109mph/2,100rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 54.8/39.2/9.0m50.9/37.9/10.3m56.5/37.9/9.9m
Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph68/68/66/73dB69/55/66/71dB71/65/67/74dB
Auto Express economy/range40.0/8.8/440 miles45.5/10.0/470 miles32.4/7.1/335 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 58.9/60.1/60.1mpg60.1/70.6/67.2mpg52.3/61.4/57.6mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 13.0/13.2/13.2mpl13.2/15.5/14.8mpl11.5/13.5/12.7mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket189/123g/km/24%166/111g/km/22%234/127g/km/25%
    
Airbags/Isofix/park. sensors/cameraFour/yes/£200/£400Seven/yes/yes/yesSeven/yes/yes/yes
Auto box/stability/cruise control/AEBNo/yes/yes/no£1,350/y/adaptive/y£1,000/yes/yes/no
Climate control/leather/heated seatsNo/£500/noYes/no/yesYes/yes/no
Metallic paint/xenons/keyless go£495/no/no£430/LED/yes£500/no/no
Sat-nav/USB/DAB/Bluetooth£450/yes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes/yes

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