It seems that everything these days has to make some random noise. My phone makes a racket every time I switch it on, my washing machine plays a wee fanfare whenever it’s finished a load and even our SsangYong Tivoli XLV test car insisted on serenading me every time I got in or out of it.
It’s bizarre and a little off-putting at first but by the end of a week with the car I’d become quite fond of the low-fi tinkling noise it emitted every time I disembarked.
Confusingly, despite being a jumble of letters like every Tivoli trim level, the XLV is actually a standalone model. It’s based on the same platform as the standard Tivoli but is stretched by nearly 24cm to offer a more spacious option for buyers. That pushes it away from the Tivoli’s natural rivals such as the Nissan Juke and Citroen C4 Cactus and into the space of the all-conquering Qashqai, Ateca et al.
SsangYong Tivoli XLV ELX 4×4 Auto
Engine: 1.6-litre, four-cylinder, diesel
Transmission: Six-speed automatic, four-wheel-drive
Top speed: 109mph
0-62mph: 12 seconds
CO2 emissions: 164g/km
While it’s substantially longer than the base model, the XLV’s extra length is all behind the C-pillar. That means the rear seat space remains adequate rather than brilliant but the boot is enormous. Its 720-litre capacity puts it ahead of rivals in either of the classes it straddles and is capable of swallowing pretty much anything an active family can chuck at it.
While that stretched bodywork has done wonders for the Tivoli’s carrying capacity it’s not been so helpful with the looks. From the front, the XLV retains the Tivoli’s fairly non-descript styling but from the side little has been done to mask the elongated bodywork and it looks almost tacked on, hanging out beyond the rear wheels.
Still, it comes across the board with all the trappings of a modern crossover including LED running lights, roof rails, contrast roof colour and some flashy alloys.
And that bling highlights the Tivoli’s strong point – the bang for your buck. The range starts at £13,300 for a petrol-powered two-wheel-drive SE model, topping out at £21,700 for the tested diesel 4×4 ELX with auto gearbox.
Even at the bottom end of the range you get alloys, cruise control, air con, keyless entry and adaptive steering. Our test car wanted for virtually nothing, with leather upholstery, a seven-inch touchscreen, sat nav, heated front and rear seats, auto lights, wipers and climate control. The only, bizarre, omission was DAB radio.
The XLV ELX also boasts a suite of safety features far beyond most models at its price point, featuring autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist, traffic sign recognition, high-beam assist and active rollover protection.
Such a healthy equipment list for the money makes the interior easier to forgive. The funny noises aside, the cabin is a big improvement on previous SsangYongs but for all its bells and whistles it does feel built to a price. The materials and layout are better than a Korando, for example, and it’s not an unpleasant environment but it’s also not up to the standards of a Nissan or Seat.
Likewise, the driving experience is acceptable in isolation but can’t match that of more expensive rivals. The diesel engine is punchy enough and the six-speed auto box shifts smoothly but the ride isn’t as calm as it could be and it’s hardly the last word in dynamic handling. Still, unlike rivals at this price you get the reassurance of four-wheel-drive which so many SUV buyers crave.
And that comes back to the Tivoli’s main strength. For the money there’s little, if anything that can offer so much in terms of drivetrain, safety or convenience features. There are better-finished and better-to-drive cars out there but as a value proposition it hits a lot of the right notes.