THIS car came with a somewhat unusual request in the form of: "We want Teddy to test drive the latest Tivoli XLV." It may sound straightforward enough except Teddy is an 18-month old cockapoo.
The reason SsangYong contacted us was because the new Tivoli XLV is the beefed-up version of the standard Tivoli and offers additional space making it the perfect vehicle to transport Teddy along with his vast quantity of toys, blankets, beds, food, bowls â¦ I could go on.
There's no denying the fact that the five-door Tivoli XLV is a great looking vehicle with its sporty profile, shiny black pillars, rising waistline, tinted glass, sweeping light clusters with LED daytime running lights, roof rails and smart 18-inch alloy wheels to complete the look.
And our model, in Ultimate trim and two-wheel-drive (2WD), was feature-rich with the likes of heated leather seats with a power-adjusted driver's seat, a TomTom navigation system, air conditioning, a rearview camera, a seven-inch touchscreen, DAB radio, Bluetooth and a steering wheel heater as standard. It carried a price-tag of Â£20,195 and according to official figures, can deliver combined fuel economy of 37.2mpg with carbon emissions of 176g/km.
Powered by a 1.6-litre 128hp petrol engine mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox, the Tivoli XLV is stylish, practical and great fun to drive. It races out the starting blocks at quite a click and can reach 62mph from a standing start in a very respectable 11.0 seconds before maxing out at 99mph.
After that initial sharp burst of power it calms down to a smooth and very capable performance. The acceleration through the automatic gearbox is beautifully seamless with a constant stream of power on tap which helps make light work of overtaking or steep hill climbs.
There is a feature called ‘smart steering' which alters the steering weight. In Comfort the wheel turns with less effort which is ideal if parking with lots of twisting and turning. The Normal setting is suited to general driving and Sport means a little more effort is required to turn the wheel making it perfect for high speed driving.
The Tivoli XLV feels beautifully balanced with good grip and minimal body sway which, once again, makes it a great vehicle for transporting dogs or youngsters who may have slightly weaker stomachs.
At higher speeds, you can expect to hear a fair amount of road surface noise, which was my only slight gripe but the Tivoli is equipped with a decent six-speaker sound system that easily drowns out any noise intrusion. It's also quick and easy to connect a smartphone via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto to access your extensive playlists.
The interior of the car oozes quality with plenty of soft-touch surfaces, along with a chunky D-cut steering wheel that is leather trimmed, and all controls and dials are neatly laid out in a smart-looking central stack.
The slightly elevated driving position results in excellent all-round visibility and all the dials and readouts are clear and perfectly positioned for driver usability.
Comfort levels are high with ample room for three adults to stretch out (or one dog) in the back seats. The boot is also generously sized, although Teddy only ever sits in the boot to take in the vista and always returns to the back seat where he is connected by a safety chain that runs from the seat belt holder to his harness.
The wide-opening tailgate makes loading and unloading awkwardly shaped items such as bicycles a simple process and the 60:40 split-folding rear seats can be dropped flat increasing the storage capacity from 423 litres to a generous 1,115 litres.
Elsewhere there are a number of handy storage compartments scattered throughout the Tivoli XLV, including a glovebox, some non-slip trays, a central storage cubby beneath the armrest, door bins that are wider at the front to accommodate bottles, front and rear cup holders, elastic straps in the backs of the front seats and a sunglasses holder.
With an active family in mind, safety is of vital importance and the Tivoli XLV boasts a wealth of safety features and driver aids. These include anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution, electronic stability programme, active rollover protection, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, traffic sign recognition, high beam assist, ISOFIX fittings to the rear outer seats and a full suite of airbags.