There are just some cars that seem to defy their segments. It may be in terms of size, pricing, or even equipment. This brings me neatly to the Ssangyong Tivoli XLV.
What kind of car is this? It is a crossover, but it also has the makings of a wagon. A crossover-wagon perhaps? Ssangyong recently returned to the Philippine market with an arsenal of crossovers and people carriers that have striking looks, potent powertrains and spades of space. We already got to test most of their vehicles (i.e. Tivoli, Korando and Rodius) but we have yet to test their category buster, until now.
While it bears the name and familiar styling cues of the B-segment crossover, the XLV is longer, wider and slightly taller than the standard Tivoli. It measures 4440mm long, 1798mm wide and 1605mm tall. Side by side with the Tivoli, the XLV is longer by 245mm, wider by 3mm and is 15mm taller.
This results in generous amounts of interior and luggage space in a relatively compact package. It is not as big as C-segment crossovers but can still carry loads of cargo with no trouble.
As for overall styling it's pretty eye-catching. While the front fascia and side profile look sleek and aggressive, the rear could be a subject for debate. Personally I like it as it gives the XLV a wagon-inspired look. The 18-inch alloys look decent but I would have liked it more if the wheels had a different design altogether.
Open the doors and the familiar design from the standard Tivoli greets you inside. Ssangyong did not bother to toy with the interior which was fine with me as the cabin was already ergonomic to begin with. The fabric seats, while comfortable enough, perhaps needs a bit more lumbar support, particularly on the driver's seat. There's plenty of legroom for the rear occupants and since it's slightly wider, there is also more elbow room for three individuals at the back.
This being the top-spec variant, the ELX XLV comes with a lot of standard equipment. It has dual-zone climate control, touchscreen infotainment with navigation, Bluetooth, USB, Aux and smartphone mirrorlink, multi-info display, HID headlights and power folding side mirrors. The touchscreen system even has a reverse camera which was a nice addition since the XLV is longer than most typical B-segment crossovers.
But perhaps the centerpiece of the Tivoli XLV is its rear compartment. Pop the tailgate and it's capable of holding up to 720 liters of space with the rear seats up. And did I mention that it comes with additional space below the floorboard? By our estimate, you can fit at least an entire week of luggage and clothes in the XLV, plus the kitchen sink. It even has 60:40 split rear seats, allowing up to 1,294 liters of space when they're folded down.
Under the hood is not a 1.6-liter gasoline-fed inline-four. Instead, the XLV gets a 1.6-liter turbo-diesel with CRDi. Peak power of 115 PS comes in at 3400 – 4000 rpm while maximum pulling power of 300 Nm is achieved between 1500 – 2500 rpm. For a small engine, the Tivoli packs quite a punch.
A twist of the key brings to life the turbo-diesel. As far as modern diesel engines are concerned, the XLV's motor is quite refined. Sure it's quite rough during cold starts but once it reaches working temperature, it becomes relatively quiet. In fact, some assumed the XLV was a gasoline-powered crossover, not a diesel.
Mated to a 6-speed automatic gearbox with all-wheel-drive (AWD), power delivery is smooth and low-end torque is immediately accessible. In every day city driving, having all that pulling power available on tap was really useful, especially in overtaking. It's also quite frugal as it was able to average about 10 km/l with just one passenger (8.5 km/l if you have three other people with you).
Out on the highway, the XLV made for a decent cruiser. At a steady 90 km/h, the engine was only turning over below 1800 rpm. It kept itself composed and outside noise was kept to a minimum. With just one passenger, the Tivoli XLV is capable of returning 18.5 km/l of fuel. When carrying three extra passengers, the XLV will sip fuel at around 14 – 15 km/l.
Like what I said earlier, the 1.6-liter mill is a joy to drive, especially when driven spiritedly. Put your foot down and the transmission immediately kicks-down to deliver low-end power. There is some turbo lag but nothing too concerning that it will suddenly surge you forward. The all-wheel-drive system meant that you can take on the bends at speed, as well as take on some light trails (to which I was able to). Just mind the limited ground clearance of the XLV. As for ride quality, the XLV is relatively comfier than the standard Tivoli. There is still some stiffness from the suspension but since it's longer, the body was able to absorb most of the bumps.
The transmission comes with manual select which was great as it came particularly handy when you want to go through the gears yourself. It's not as intuitive however as Ssangyong opted to use a toggle switch on the gear shifter. Nitpicking aside, the diesel-powered XLV is powerful and smooth still. In my opinion, Ssangyong should have just opted to equip the entire Tivoli lineup with the 1.6-liter turbo-diesel.
With an asking price of PhP 1,245,000, the Tivoli XLV is quite the bargain. It has a peppy powertrain, generous amounts of cargo space, comes with several in-car features as standard and can seat five with ease. Honestly, I did not think this crossover-wagon hybrid will be able to woo me away from standard run-of-the-mill crossovers. But after getting to drive it myself, the XLV presented itself as a great alternative.
If MPVs are too big and SUVs are out of your budget, the Tivoli XLV is one vehicle that can make for a great compromise, provided you're the kind of buyer that pays no mind to the badge.