SsangYong stretches

out for families

SsangYong Tivoli XLV, side action
SsangYong Tivoli XLV, static front
SsangYong Tivoli XLV, front action
SsangYong Tivoli XLV, rear action
SsangYong Tivoli XLV, dashboard
SsangYong Tivoli XLV, boot
SsangYong Tivoli XLV, golf clubs
SsangYong Tivoli XLV, front seats
SsangYong Tivoli XLV, boot empty

IF you've ever liked a car but cursed the size of the boot there is now a potential holiday luggage saviour in the smartly chunky shape of the new SsangYong Tivoli XLV.

The Korean car maker has taken the existing Tivoli compact SUV - launched here to some praise last year - and added XLV to the name and several centimetres to the rear of the car.

The extra stretch - all 23.8cms (or just over nine inches) of it - is devoted to padding out the boot space, from a reasonable 423 litres to an enormous 720 litres.

This extra load space (with much more on offer if you flip the rear seat forward) adds £1,000 over a non-XLV Tivoli but moves carrying capacity into the world of much bigger and dearer cars.

SsangYong, which has modest ambitions for sales of this stretched version, hopes it now squares up nicely against cars like the Nissan Qashqai or semi-estates such as the MINI Clubman or Skoda Yeti.

The tape measure shows the newcomer to considerable advantage over the quoted opposition - but the clincher may come for many potential buyers when they look at the Tivoli XLV's price.

The most you can pay for one is £20,500 and that comes with an automatic gearbox and on-demand four-wheel drive.

The four-strong range starts at £18,250 for a manual front-drive model and every version comes with a shedload of standard kit that includes a fine sat nav system, dual zone climate control, RDS radio, cruise control, rear view camera, parking sensors front and rear and iPod and Bluetooth connectivity.

For the fast expanding band of drivers who take a new car on a PCP scheme the Tivoli XLV is available from 35 monthly payments of £198 and a £5,000 deposit.

There's only one engine of offer at the moment, a 1.6-litre 113bhp diesel and the lack of choice perhaps indicates the anticipated modest sales expected of this longer Tivoli.

The shorter version also has the choice of a 1.6-litre, 126bhp petrol engine that costs £1,250 less than the diesel and could surely be made available on the XLV if the demand is there.

But enough of the figures, the history of inexpensive cars from distant lands is littered with enough financial casualties to make you wary of another one, at least before you've taken a long hard look and a test drive.

Both of which actions on the new Tivoli XLV may take you by surprise - in a good way.

For not only does the car look neat and tidy on the outside, it's actually decidedly smart on the inside, with fine use of contrasting colours across doors, dash and seats.

It all feels solidly screwed together too and makes you feel the Tivoli's five year, unlimited mileage warranty is not going to cost the company too much in claims.

Then you fire up the engine and it does a decent job of dampening the din that diesels are wont to make. Set off down the road and your verdict will be influenced strongly by the shape of the gear selector by your left hand.

The automatic version changes gear smoothly and moves the car along with some purpose but the DIY manual Tivoli XLV felt almost a different car - much more eager to please and lively, even if the figures show otherwise, with identical acceleration time to 62mph (12.0 seconds apiece) and top speeds of 107mph auto/109mph manual.

There were benefits on economy too, with 46mpg showing on the auto's dash after a good drive and 54mpg for the manual. Both are some way from the official averages (47.9/62.8) but these figures always flatter.

Trying a 4x4 automatic, dearest car in the range, showed near identical economy to the 2WD auto but having the car make the gearchanges for you does hit the emissions figures hard.

You'll pay no road tax in the first year with the mostly lightly polluting Tivoli XLV (117g/km for the 2WD manual) and £130 from year two. Choose the 4WD auto and it's £185 annually from year one.

Even then, of course, it's a sum that looks more than reasonable for a car that genuinely looks and drives like something from a class or two above. It's my bargain car of the moment.

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