Not your usual SUV


Defining the SsangYong Tivoli XLV could somewhat be a challenge. For one, it is a subcompact SUV that has an extended wheelbase, which makes it nearly as long as a compact SUV.

And it has an all-wheel drive (AWD) that makes it quite a standout among subcompact SUVs that usually have power only for the front wheels. But it still sits low compared to compact and subcompact SUVs. Then there’s the turbocharged diesel engine that behaves almost like a gasoline-powered engine.

But to call the Tivoli XLV an oddball would be an injustice; maybe you could call it evolutionary or a trendsetter in its class. Whatever comes into one’s mind about the Tivoli XLV, one thing is for sure: This is no “entry level” compact SUV and is not for those who are budget-conscious.

Fast Times was able to test the Tivoli XLV and the verdict is this compact SUV is definitely setting the trend for the SsangYong brand that decades back could be chastised for producing vehicles that had somewhat murky characteristics. Well, the Tivoli XLV, along with its sibling with the standard wheelbase, is definitely the vehicle that defines more of what the SsangYong brand is all about. And being boring is not one of those characteristics.

Underneath the hood of the Tivoli XLV is a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine that surely has a lot of technological improvements, because it can crank out 116 horsepower at 3,600 rpm and a whopping 300 Newton-meters of torque at the same engine speed. Now, how did SsangYong manage to make a 1.6-liter turbodiesel engine produce 300 Nm of torque, which is usually the torque output of engines of much large displacement, although the SsangYong engine does it at a higher engine speed range?

And the turbodiesel engine of the Tivoli XLV revs almost like a gasoline-powered engine!

The variant Fast Times tested had a 6-speed automatic transmission, and with AWD, the Tivoli XLV was meant to provide a good degree of sporty driving. But can it deliver?

Sporty interior
The interior of the Tivoli XLV clearly reflects the effort of the brand to create vehicles that tries to impart a feeling of sportiness and excitement. And the front seats are well holstered to hold the driver and front passenger during hard cornering.

The design of the dashboard truly imparts a sporty feel, and the rather small steering wheel makes throwing the Tivoli XLV into sharp corners a bit fun. At the center is an LCD monitor that can provide the readout for audio, among others, although there are audio controls for the volume and the selection of your favorite radio stations at the right side of the steering wheel. Below the LCD are the air-conditioning controls and display. Notably, the Tivoli XLV provides dual-zone air-conditioning for the driver and front passenger, so the rear passengers will still be at their mercy when it comes to cooling the interior.

At the rear, the seats have a firm feel; so for long trips it is not advisable to let three full-sized adults standing above 5’8” and weighing over 150 pounds be packed at the rear.

Do not expect the Tivoli XLV to provide more legroom for its rear passengers even if it has a longer wheelbase compared to the standard model; it looks like the longer wheelbase was provided to give it more cargo space at the rear, or a whopping 720 liters with the rear seats not folded down.

Overall, the Tivoli XLV is longer by 245 mm compared to the standard model.

The styling of the Tivolis is quite unique among SUVs, with their curvy lines executed to still give them an aerodynamic look. And the front fascia looks more European than Korean. So in the styling department, the Tivolis truly excel.

In fact, since the Tivolis are not yet volume sellers, they could actually turn some heads on the road.

All-wheel drive
The Tivoli XLV has an all-wheel drive and there is a button at the dashboard to shift it to take on rougher terrains and steeper roads, similar to the 4L mode of four-wheel drive SUVs.

The 6-speed manual transmission also has a manual mode that is quite tricky to master, but can potentially provide more exciting driving if it is harnessed well. Our advice is to take time to master the manual mode.

When driving in the city, it is best not to set the driving mode of the XLV to Power or Winter, because the engine can provide enough torque even from 1,000 rpm to execute those lane changes and passes. The steering feel of the Tivoli XLV, like its larger Korando sibling, has a taut feel that actually provides for safer driving, since it prevents the driver from making sharp careless maneuvers especially at high speeds.

At 90 kph, the Tivoli XLV’s engine revs at below 2,000 rpm at top gear, showing how torquey its engine is. Exploring speeds above 100 kph, however, is much better at Power mode, especially if the Tivoli XLV is loaded with at least four passengers. This is not to say it is a laggard at speeds above 100 kph; simply put, transitioning from 90 kph up to 140 kph at the expressways at Power mode is more flawless.

At the expressways, pressing the accelerator pedal a bit mad will invite some grunt from the engine, but eventually pushes the Tivoli XLV toward higher speeds without the engine sounding very strained.

Low-profiled tires
A closer look at the Tivoli XLVs sold in other countries would show some of them having a higher ground clearance and thicker tires. But the variant tested by Fast Times had a rather low ground clearance and 18-inch rims shod with low-profiled tires, which makes the ride bumpy over nasty road imperfections (and there are many of them on Philippine roads).

Could the local distributor of SsangYong vehicles provide its buyers the choice of shodding the Tivoli XLV with 16-inch rims with thicker tires? This should be strongly considered.

The Tivoli XLV sporting 18-inch rims with low-profiled tires may a bit of an overkill, considering it already has an AWD that can provide better handling and even surefootedness. The AWD also proved to be useful when the Tivoli XLV took the treacherous steeps from Talisay to Tagaytay. Engaging the lock mode of the AWD system also made the most challenging steeps a piece of cake to the Tivoli XLV.

At P1.24 million, the Tivoli XLV is definitely not for SUV buyers who are price-sensitive, because for a few hundred thousand bucks one can buy a mid-sized SUV with two-wheel drive and automatic transmission.

But the Tivoli XLV was not meant to carry lots of passengers like a mid-sized SUV or project power like those larger SUVs; rather, the Tivoli XLV was meant for motorists who would like to have something unique in their garage that could turn some heads once in a while.

The all-new Tivoli XLV is the longer and slightly bigger version of the Tivoli, with extended length from the C-pillar up to the tailgate. Just like the its smaller brother, it offers a perfect mix of features, engine power, and exterior appeal. It has Daytime Running Lights up front that goes well with the bold bumper design with mesh grille.

In the Philippines, the interior of both front-wheel and all-wheel drive variant of the Tivoli XLV are covered in quality fabric with stitched accents on the two-tone seats. The 7-inch touchscreen HD head unit is right at the center of the console for every passenger’s entertainment.

Drivers of the Tivoli XLV can also switch from three steering modes through the Smart Steer system – Normal, Comfort, and Sport. It also features rear parking sensor, keyless entry and alarm.

Under the hood of the Tivoli XLV is a 4-cylinder 16-valve 1.6L Turbocharged Direct Injection diesel engine that delivers 116 HP and 300 Nm of torque, coupled to either a 6-speed automatic transmission.


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