SsangYong's sharp-looking baby SUV
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THE TIVOLI’S RIDE IS VERY MATURE FOR SUCH A SMALL VEHICLE
While the major Korean brands like Hyundai and Kia are familiar names in the local motoring scene, largely accepted as major players, it is easy to forget that there is another Korean marque quietly growing its brand in the local market.
And while that player may well still be a relatively familiar brand, it has also always been relatively easy to overlook, particularly given its concentration on utes and SUVs, as well as its, um, “challenging” styling of past models.
It is, of course, SsangYong.
But now the market has essentially come to SsangYong — with Kiwis’ current love affair with SUVs in full flight — and it has picked the right time too, as the Korean company’s newest local distributor, Great Lake Motor Distributors, has been increasing the brand’s local market share by an amount that is staggering.
SsangYong is now the 15th largest seller in New Zealand, outselling Subaru and sitting alongside the prestige Europeans in terms of numbers. From selling just 411 vehicles in 2011, SsangYong sold 1873 last year, averaging growth of 60 per cent each year.
It has also undoubtedly helped that the styling has become considerably less “challenging” as new products have been released.
Which actually leads us into SsangYong’s latest delivery to NZ, the small Tivoli SUV.
Just as a change in local distribution and product styling couldn’t have come at a better time for SsangYong to make the most of our love for SUVs, the Tivoli’s timing is impeccable, appearing, as it does, right at the pointy end of a boom in baby SUV interest.
The Tivoli comes to New Zealand in two forms — the Sport and the Limited, both packing a 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that produces 95kW of power and 160Nm of torque driving the front wheels.
The Sport comes standard with 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, manual air conditioning, Bluetooth, steering wheel-mounted audio controls and strip computer. It is available with either a six-speed manual transmission for $24,990, or with a six-speed automatic for $26,990.
The Limited adds a two-tone colour pack with contrasting roof colour, 18-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, driving lights, LED daytime running lamps, rear tinted glass, a leatherette interior, a reversing camera, parking sensors, a 7-inch monitor with HDMI input, and a leather steering wheel.
Only available with the six-speed automatic transmission, the Limited costs $30,990.
The Tivoli is a sharp-looking little SUV, looking far more cohesive in the metal than in pictures. Inspired by the likes of the Mini Countryman and Range Rover Evoque, the Tivoli has a surprisingly aggressive nose that gives way to a cheerfully good (and good-looking) impersonation of a Mini Countryman at the rear.
This may sound extremely derivative — and some aspects certainly are — but as a whole it works very well and provides the Tivoli with a look all of its own.
The engine is a solid little unit that belies its small displacement, hauling the Tivoli along with confidence and ease. The ride is very impressively resolved and mature for such a small vehicle, while handling was solid and extremely competent in the very wet conditions at the launch.
All up, the SsangYong Tivoli is an impressive little SUV that is remarkably well priced, impressively equipped (particularly for the price) and is probably the most complete and compelling product SsangYong has produced so far.
Put it this way; they deserve to sell a lot of these. And they probably will.
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