2021 SsangYong Tivoli review

A sharp update to this Kia Seltos and Hyundai Kona rival brings a lift in nearly every area. Markedly improved, we review the 2021 Ssangyong Tivoli ahead of its Australian launch.

This quality-focused facelift of the SsangYong Tivoli is part of a bid to push the SUV a bit further upmarket. Changes extend to a new range of engines, as well as updated looks, which include new foglamps and a larger grille. To our eyes, the result is a better-looking car than before, and it’s a world away from SsangYongs of the past.

There are big changes in the cabin, with the updated Tivoli taking much of the tech on offer in the larger Korando. The standout feature is the new digital cockpit on the top-spec Ultimate trim. It adds a customisable 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster and an 8.0-inch central infotainment screen, and looks as good as anything in this class.

The central facia below the screen, which was one of the most disappointing factors on the pre-facelifted model, has also been brought up to date. There are still some scratchy plastics on show, but it’s now no worse than many of its rivals.

A pair of new turbocharged petrol engines has joined the existing 1.6-litre diesel. These comprise an entry-level 1.2-litre three-cylinder unit, and the 1.5-litre four-cylinder option tested here with a six-speed automatic transmission.

The engine produces 120kW and it feels quick enough in most situations. Its peak torque of 250Nm is reached from just 1500rpm, so the initial getaway can feel quite sprightly in a car this size, but the ponderous gearbox lets things down, and the torque disappears quickly.

Drive around town or down a country road and the Tivoli’s Achilles heel comes to the fore – the ride. Hit any sort of bump and it sends a shudder through the cabin and knocks the chassis off line. The constant jiggling over the road surface can become quite intrusive and irritating.

The Tivoli is more at home when cruising along a smooth surfaces. Engine noise is well suppressed and only really noticeable under hard acceleration.

Pricing for the facelifted Tivoli range has not yet been announced for Australia, but it will likely continue to be less than base-spec versions of the Nissan Juke, Hyundai Kona and Skoda Kamiq.

This ‘Ultimate’ trim spec, which sits above all other variants in the new-look range, comes packed with kit, including 18-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, a smart key with a stop/start button, dual-zone automatic air-conditioning, heated front seats, a reversing camera, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the digital cockpit among the standard luxuries.

This facelifted SsangYong Tivoli is definitely an improvement over the car it replaces. It’s a competent compact SUV with a much-improved interior, but it needed more to really stand out. The Tivoli’s price is usually its big selling point, but the cost of this top-spec Ultimate model ends up being its biggest downfall.

2021 SsangYong Tivoli spec

Price TBA Engine 4cyls, 1499cc, turbo, petrol Power 120kW Torque 250Nm Gearbox 6-spd auto Top speed 210km/h 0-100km/h 9.0sec (est) Rivals Skoda Kamiq, Kia Seltos, Hyundai Kona

Peter Baiden

Final Verdict:

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