Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Review: 2019 SsangYong Tivoli Premium Sport


Admittedly, the SsangYong Tivoli was not a looker. When it appeared on my driveway, I nearly missed it, and walked right past. I suppose it did not help that Techno Grey was clearly not my color. Add to that, my first drive out in the little crossover made me eyeroll — the brakes were too soft and sensitive, making the car jerky; and, being only on a 1.6-liter engine, the power was not as responsive as I was used to. Day One—color me unimpressed.

But don’t dismiss the Tivoli just yet. You see, once I decided to give the Tivoli a solid chance, I realized that it was not meant to be the star of the show. No. Even better, this seemingly quiet ride that will patiently sit in its slot, waiting for its turn, is meant to play the game to an unexpected win as the underdog of your driving life.



It takes a second look to realize that the Tivoli was not as standard as it initially seemed. Sure, we can call it “safe,” given that slight boxy shape, softly rounded edges, and unfortunately, the muted grey colorway that it came in. If the shade of grey was only a bit brighter, with perhaps a touch of silver, it would have had looker potential.

However, from a certain angle, the Tivoli can actually be mistaken for a Mini Cooper, making it instantly cuter and almost a stand-out. In addition, I couldn’t help but notice that it could turn quite a few heads, perhaps because there are not too many of this kind of shape roaming the city, or seeing a SsangYong was incredibly rare. Whatever it was, the unassuming Tivoli quietly leveled up into an unexpected friend—interesting without being loud about it, and attractive without knowing that it was.

Move in a little closer and you will see that the Tivoli is well-made. Despite our biases that Japanese cars are the most solid, it was obvious that SsangYong made sure this was solidly put together and built for use. The doors have that weight when opening, and whenever it closes shut, it has that satisfying thud that you would expect from a European-made car. The same goes for opening and closing of the tailgate. No flimsy mechanisms here!



Now that we have established how unassumingly appealing it can be from the outside, let’s move on to what potentially sets it apart from other models of its class: the interior. Subtle chic is always the way to go, and the Tivoli knew how to deliver. Settling into the driver’s seat, the cabin seemed smaller than was expected from a vehicle with such a solid, sturdy body. What it lacked in space, however, it made up for with high-quality trim.

Immediately, there was a hint of leather in the air, which tell you that the smooth and plush seats are all of premium materials. The interior side panels are finished with the same leather trim and the steering wheel boasts of the same leather piping, giving it a smooth, luxurious feel. Control buttons and switches are also properly positioned, making it clear that the layout was carefully thought of to be as functional as possible. All this is enough to forgive the plasticky quality of the dashboard itself.

Despite the smallness of the cabin, legroom was surprisingly generous, enough for the average Filipino. Don’t expect a full stretch, though; just enough that seating does not require curling yourself up to fit properly.



Putting it out there — the Tivoli is not the most powerful ride. In most cases, controlled acceleration has its advantages: speeding up is gradual and you avoid sudden jerky movements. With the Tivoli, running on a 1.6-liter engine, every acceleration felt more restrained than controlled, as if the car was having second thoughts every time I spurred it on. This made it challenging when having to make quick turns at the intersection or having to immediately change lanes on a busy street.

Another function to get used to is the ultra-sensitive brakes. Cover the pedal lightly with your foot and you can be sure that the brake will immediately engage, strongly. It takes a few rounds to adjust and get used to the sensitivity. Lest you forget the next time, that rattling jerky stop will remind you of it very well.

Despite all of the above, what’s good about the Tivoli is that, again, it’s a safe ride. If pushing the limit isn’t really your thing and you spend most of your time in the city, the performance of the Tivoli will be just right for you. Handling is stable and balanced, which is expected of a car of its size and build, reminding you of how solid it feels. Once you get moving, the Tivoli works with you and keeps you in the driver’s seat, not the other way around.



All in all, the SsangYong Tivoli is a great city car. It’s built well, has good handling, and is the right size for maneuvering through a busy street. Taking it out on a long drive may not offer the same level of satisfaction, given the lack of power and smoothness that the highway requires. But for those who practically live day in and day out in the city, it’s a solid option that can be a contender on anyone’s list.

2019 SsangYong Tivoli Premium Sport
Ownership 2019 SsangYong Tivoli Premium Sport
Year Introduced 2016 (Refreshed: 2018)
Vehicle Classification Sub-compact Crossover
Warranty 5 years / 100,000 kilometers
The Basics
Body Type 5-door SUV
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 1.6
Aspiration Normally Aspirated
Fuel Delivery EFI
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 128 @ 6,000
Nm @ rpm 160 @ 4,600
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 91~
Transmission 6 AT
Cruise Control No
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 8.17 km/L @ 16 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,195
Width (mm) 1,795
Height (mm) 1,590
Wheelbase (mm) 2,600
Curb Weight (kg) 1,300
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Torsion Beam Axle
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc
Tires Kumho Solus XC 215/45 R 18 V (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 2
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control No
Parking Sensors Yes, with Camera
Front Seatbelts 3-pt ELR with pre-tensioner x 2
Rear Seatbelts 3-pt ELR x 3
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor Yes
Other Safety Features None
Exterior Features
Headlights Halogen
Fog Lamps Yes, Front
Auto Lights No
Rain-sensing Wipers No
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment (driver) Electric, 6-way
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) Manual, 4-way
Seating Surface Nappa Leather
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, with Fold
Proximity Key Yes
Climate Control Yes
Audio System Stereo
DVD
MP3
Aux
USB
Bluetooth
GPS
MirrorLink
# of Speakers 6
Steering Controls Yes

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