David Motton

See other tow car reviews written by David Motton

Eye-catching value makes headlines, but what's the SsangYong Tivoli XLV like with a caravan on the back? We hitch up to see what tow car talent it has

Overview

The Tivoli compact crossover has been a big success for SsangYong.

The Tivoli XLV is a very similar car, but with an additional 24cm behind the rear axle to create a much bigger boot.

It makes the XLV a more practical prospect – SsangYong calls it an ‘SUV-estate’.

Does SsangYong’s trademark low price-tag, together with improved practicality, turn the XLV into a compelling choice for caravanners? What tow car ability does this budget crossover have?

Towing

Not only is the XLV longer than the Tivoli on which it is based, it’s also heavier.

Our manual 4x4 has a kerbweight of 1505kg, compared with 1430kg for the smaller Tivoli with the same engine and ’box.

That gives an 85% match figure of 1279kg, well within the 1500kg towing limit. We used a Swift Expression 584 with a Mass in Running Order of 1265kg.

The 1.6-litre diesel pulled fairly well with the Swift in tow. Top-end power is modest, at 113bhp, but there’s a useful 221lb ft of torque.

High gearing means that a lower gear than expected is sometimes needed, but so long as the engine stays at 1500rpm or above it pulls adequately, taking a steady but dogged 18 seconds to tow the Swift from 30-60mph.

Once up to motorway speeds the SsangYong Tivoli XLV feels reasonably secure, but sometimes we could feel it wandering slightly when slowing down or overtaking lorries.

In the lane-change test, vague steering didn’t help us place the XLV with precision, and we could feel the caravan tugging at the back of the car.

However, it was never pulled off line completely, always dragging the van straight again.

On a 1-in-10 hill the handbrake needed a second, firmer pull to prevent the outfit rolling back.

Pulling to the top of the hill needed a careful balance of clutch and throttle to prevent the engine from bogging down.

It didn’t excel in the brake test, either, needing 11.2m to stop from 30mph. That’s around a metre longer than we’d have hoped for on a dry track.

The XLV performs adequately as a tow car, but the very best crossovers have stronger brakes and a more secure feel at speed.

Everyday driving

The regular Tivoli is more wieldy than most SsangYongs, and the XLV is very similar.

It handles neatly and keeps roll in reasonable check, though there’s not a lot of feedback through the wheel.

The steering has sport, normal and comfort settings, but these vary the level of assistance rather than adding feel.

Over rough roads the XLV’s suspension is firm, and really sharp bumps are heard with a thump as well as felt.

Choosing a manual ’box over an auto saves £1000. However, the gearbox doesn’t have a very pleasant shift action.

Not a deal-breaker, perhaps, but another aspect of the Tivoli that isn’t as polished as its best rivals.

4x4 versions only send power to all four wheels if there’s a loss of traction. It’s a sensible system for a car that is unlikely to be used for serious off-roading, saving fuel in normal use, but with the benefit of four-wheel-drive when needed.

It adds £1250 to the price, but that seems a fair premium for four-season caravanners.

Space

The XLV driver has a sound seating position and a decent view, but the absence of a proper foot rest was our biggest complaint, particularly on long journeys.

Our car’s two-tone black and red trim won’t be to all tastes, but a more sober interior is available.

The XLV’s dashboard is neat and modern, and the standard of finish is a step up for SsangYong.

Rear-seat space compares well with most of the Tivoli XLV’s rivals, with enough head- and legroom to avoid adults feeling cramped.

There’s only a small hump for the transmission tunnel, which helps provide space for everyone’s feet.

The wheelbase is the same as that of the regular Tivoli, so the XLV has the same passenger space, but it scores over its little brother in terms of luggage room.

SsangYong quotes a capacity of 720 litres with the rear seats up, although that’s to the roof rather than under the luggage cover.

Running costs

This is where the SsangYong Tivoli XLV scores over mainstream competitors – you simply won’t get anywhere near this car’s spec level for similar money with a Nissan Qashqai or Renault Captur.

The list price of the 1.6D ELX 4x4 is £20,450 but, according to research by What Car?, £19,527 is a realistic transaction price.

Your money buys dual-zone air-con, parking sensors, leather seats, a TomTom touchscreen and cruise control. For 2017 cars there are several safety upgrades, too.

Plenty of crossovers can beat the XLV’s 57.6mpg combined fuel economy figure, but we were happy with the 28.1mpg we got while towing.

What Car? predicts that this model will be worth 38% of its list price after three years – a modest return, but the XLV is cheap to start with, and comes with a five-year, unlimited mileage warranty.

Technical specs

Engine size1597 cc
Kerbweight1505 kg
85% KW1279 kg
Towball limit80 kg
Maximum towing limit1500 kg
Power113.0 bhp
Torque221.0 lb ft
Official MPG57.6 mpg
CO2127 g/km
30-60mph18 seconds
30-0mph11.2 m

Verdict

So, having been hitched up and subjected to our tough test, what tow car skills does the SsangYong Tivoli XLV offer caravanners?

It’s not hard to find crossovers that tow and drive better than the Tivoli XLV.

But it is very practical and extremely good value. At that price, it really can’t be ignored.

Conclusion

Pros

  • You're getting a lot of car and kit for your money
  • Space for people and luggage is good

Cons

  • There's a lack of compliance in the suspension
  • The steering is vague with little feel
  • Rivals have stronger brakes
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