Despite having strengthened its foothold in 4×4 the market somewhat in recent years, the sight of a SsangYong on UK roads is still enough to raise the odd quizzical look from other, slightly bemused motorists. Of course, this rather unwelcome reaction isn’t just something that manifested itself overnight.
What can perhaps best be pigeonholed under the heading of ‘badge snobbery’ has its roots, somewhat justifiably, in years of SsangYong having its good name dragged through the mud by a spate of disastrously ill-judged designs. Such fashion faux pas as the 1997 Korando SUV and the universally loathed 2004 Rodius MPV typified an endemic design culture at SsangYong that was so wide of the mark it had potential European customers scrambling for cover rather than queuing at the showroom doors.
However, it’s fair to say that since the turn of the decade, Korea’s oldest carmaker has been getting its act together. The third generation Korando, launched in 2010, was an immediate improvement on its much-maligned predecessor both mechanically and aesthetically and for the first time represented a credible alternative to other Asian compact SUVs such as the Hyundai ix35 and the Kia Sportage.
The latest model to join SsangYong’s reinvented stable is the Tivoli, a budget crossover that debuted in its home market of South Korea earlier this year and is now on sale on these shores. The diesel variant will get its international launch at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show and will share the SsangYong stage with two new concepts, the XLV-Air and the XAV-Adventure.
It brings more in the way of practicality to the compact proportions of the standard Tivoli by offering an extra helping of luggage space and comes with the same choice of 1.6 litre petrol or diesel engines, 6-speed automatic or manual transmission and two or four wheel drive.
Meanwhile, the more rugged XAV-Adventure concept sings off a slightly different hymn sheet. It shares less design cues with the Tivoli, sporting revised headlamps and a brawnier skid plate beneath the front grille. SsangYong calls the XAV-Adventure “a reinterpretation of the Korando brand” and stresses its off-road drivability as a key facet.
The new SsangYong Tivoli diesel, accompanied by the XLV-Air and XAV-Adventure concept SUVs, will be officially introduced to the public at the upcoming 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show. Prices for the Tivoli crossover start from a snip under £13,000.