By Mike Torpey on 2019-07-26 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
SsangYong Tivoli 1.6
YOU should expect plenty of sound from the bells and whistles when a car is proudly labelled the Ultimate version.
In many cases these all-singing all-dancing models come with a lofty price tag attached - top quality and extensive kit generally tends to come at a price.
That's not the case though with compact SUV the Tivoli from Korean brand SsangYong.
Tivoli takes its name from the Italian town near Rome with a reputation for style and was the model which heralded a fresh start for SsangYong when it hit UK streets four years ago.
Four trim grades of SE, EX, ELX and Ultimate are up for grabs and all offer a 1.6-litre petrol engine, though only the upscale ELX is available with diesel power. There's also the choice of two or four-wheel drive.
Based on the flagship ELX, the Ultimate comes with state-of-the-art safety kit like forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, traffic sign recognition and high beam assistance.
And that's not all, as the likes of leather upholstery, keyless starting, parking sensors, reversing camera, electric windows, smart steering, a seven-inch touch screen with RDS radio and Bluetooth, cruise control, sat-nav, diamond cut alloys and dual-zone air-con are all part of the package.
You also get an electrically operated and ventilated driver's seat and heated steering wheel, along with LED fog lamps.
It all looks pretty good value kitted out to the hilt for just over Â£19k, but not quite so impressive if the car doesn't perform well.
No worries on that score as the Tivoli starts off on the right foot and just keeps getting better the more you drive it.
Beneath the bonnet is a 1.6-litre Euro 6 petrol engine, fitted with either a six-speed manual transmission or for an extra £800 a six-speed automatic gearbox with manual shifts plus modes for eco, power and winter.
It won't break any records for acceleration or top speed but the 128ps powerplant is reasonably frugal, our own average fuel return of 37 miles per gallon edging pretty close to the official figure of 39.2mpg.
The Tivoli is very capable too - nimble through the suburbs, well balanced round country lanes and stable on the motorway.
It is also well made and comfortable. Okay, there may be a few cheap plastics in the cabin but the overall ambience is appealing, with the feel that you have got some serious value for money.
And if you're looking for some sunshine on a dull afternoon, or just some added inspiration, well there's a smart instrument cluster that will change its colour depending on your mood.
There's no scrimping on space with plenty of room up front and sufficient shoulder and leg room for three rear passengers.
In fact only the entry grade SE trim comes without leather upholstery, something the Tivoli's rivals can't match and giving the car an interior more often found in vehicles costing double the price.
Load space, fairly standard at 423 litres, is flexible in that it can be adapted to suit requirements and the cargo bay also comes with a luggage cover plus removable board that hides a discreet storage space below.
Add SsangYong's five-year limitless mileage warranty plus the ability to specify a contrasting body colour and roof via the My Tivoli programme and you have a compact SUV that's not only stylish but excellent value for money.
SsangYong Tivoli 1.6 Ultimate
Mechanical: 128ps, 1,597cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed automatic gearbox
Max Speed: 99mph
0-62mph: 11.0 seconds
Combined MPG: 39.2
Insurance Group: 18
C02 emissions: 167g/km
Bik rating: 37%
Warranty: 5yrs/unlimited miles
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