2015 Ssangyong Tivoli – First drive

Today marked the launch of Ssangyongs new B-segment Crossover, the Tivoli. Read about my first impressions of it at Geneva here: http://driversedition.com/index.php/the-ssangyong-tivoli-geneva-2015/

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Model Tested: Ssangyong Tivoli Deluxe finished in Grand White
Engine: 1.6 litre Petrol
Transmission: 6-speed Tip-tronic Automatic, front wheel drive
Price starting from €19,995 for petrol models and €21,495 for diesel models.

Road tax – the manual diesel has just 109g/km of Co2, buyers will only have to €190 per year. This includes Ssangyongs Stop/Start technology which is available with the manual gearbox only. However, if you opt for the diesel automatic all-wheel-drive model, buyers will have to pay a hefty €570 per year.

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The Tivoli comes in twos, two specifications; Standard and Deluxe, two engines; a 1.6 petrol and 1.6 diesel and two transmissions; a 6-speed manual or 6-speed tip-tronic automatic and either front wheel drive or all wheel drive. Until August, only the petrol will be available. This may set back the success of this quirky little number as there is not an over-whelming demand for petrol crossovers in Ireland.

As you approach the Tivoli from the front, you can see alot of effort and development has gone into the styling of it. It does not stand out from the crowd but it still it does not take after is older Brother, the Rodius. Lets not mention that name anymore…
Consumers have the choice of eight exterior colours which include Flaming Red, Grand White, Silent Silver, Dandy Blue, Space Black, Techno Grey, Icecap Blue and Jazz Brown.

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Once you step inside, you can see Ssangyong has really improved their quality of interior styling. It is a huge step up from the Rexton and Korando. The Tivoli will be aimed at the family market to which I think the interior is suited nicely to. There is plenty of leg and head room in the back with lots of storage space. It boasts a 423 litre boot capacity also which is quite generous for a compact car. Up front, it is equally as spacious. The cabin is flooded with storage space including cup holders, an armrest console with space for a Tablet and a generous glove box. The centre console is complete with a 7-inch touch screen infotainment system including Bluetooth, Tom Tom navigation and a HDMi port for mobile phones or tablets. Ssangyong allow the occupant to personalise the interior lighting to their mood.
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One can choose from six different backlight colours on the rev counter and speedometre. The sporty D-shape steering wheel can be accompanied  with heating. Three leather seat colours are available, red, beige and black. Leather comes as standard on the Deluxe model. Black and beige cloth are also available. Seven airbags are spread out throughout the vehicle.

The Tivoli is the first Ssangyong to have the new 1.6 petrol engine, known as the e-XGi160, and 1.6 diesel engine, the e-XDi160. This can be mated to either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic gearbox. The one I tested was the petrol automatic producing 125hp and 160nm of torque. This engine is not going to be Ssangyongs biggest seller as approximately 82% of new cars sold in Ireland now are diesel. The petrol engine did not perform very well. When I pulled out of the gates and onto the main road, I got the Tivoli up to 60km/h which was done with an unreasonable amount of revs from the box which filled the cabin with  an abundance of engine noise. Slide the gear lever over to M, for manual, and the driver can change gears as they please with the touch of a button. Due to the excessive revs, I would opt for the tip-tronic option each time. The manual may work better with the petrol engine. The diesel can be paired to the same gearbox.

As we were around the county of Kildare, I could really test the Tivoli’s handling ability around the country roads. It doesn’t disappoint in the corners and is quite nippy around the country lanes. The suspension, however, is quite hard for a cross-over.

My first impressions of the Tivoli are quite mixed. I may have a better opinion of the car once the diesel arrives in August. An advantage the Tivoli has on its competitors, including the Mazda CX-3, Renault Captur and Nissan Juke, is that it comes with a 5 year unlimited mileage warranty. This may be a strong selling point for the Tivoli. It could help boost sales for Ssangyong and help them regain a good presence in the Irish market.

2003 Mercedes SL350

Its a dull bank holiday Monday as we pull up to the traffic lights in Malahide village. I take this opportunity to pop the car in ‘Park’ and begin to let the roof down. This action takes roughly 20 seconds but it doesn’t matter as everyone looking at you, so you would like to think, wishes they were you. The light turns green, I throw the car into ‘D’ and lightly press the accelerator. The V6 bursts into life and even at 30 km/h, it sings through the empty streets. The car? A 2003 Mercedes Benz SL350.

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The Mark 3, known as model code r230, Mercedes SL is more suited as a cruiser rather than the ‘sports car’ title that Mercedes gave it. The car I drove was equipped with the 241hp V6 engine. The SL350 has all the power readily available once you put your foot down. Foot to the floor and the V6 screams to about 7 or 8000rpm before changing gear or the driver also has the option to change gears via the tip tronic gear lever. This is when I noticed the SL would be more comfortable cruising the Dublin Coast rather than being launched around Mondello Track. The gear changes were not instant in automatic mode and took almost an age to change in tip-tronic mode and even came in with a kick. The SL is not a light car coming in at 1680kg (which is ironic because SL stands for Sport Light) but can still get the car from 0-100km/h in 7.2 seconds and eats through all six gears to bring you to a top speed of 250km/h.

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But once you slow down and ease off on the throttle, this is where the SL is at its best. It is like a big comfortable stylish German yacht. As soon as the driver opens the door they are greeted with plush beige leather Comfort seats and a polished wooden trim that flows through the dashboard and is wrapped around the large multi-functional steering wheel. The driver is treated like a captain at the helm of their expensive luxury sports boat. But this is where you are wrong, the Merc SL is not expensive to buy. The starting price of a new SL range is €155,750 but a r230 SL350 in good condition can be had for as little as €12,000 .

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The SL is a surprisingly big car and its large over-hanging nose doesn’t help when negotiating small, tight city streets. This all makes sense though when you are gawping at it from the outside. Almost 14 years since the r230 was unveiled at the IAA Motorshow, it still has a fresh look. It recieved a face lift in 2006 and 2008 which freshened it up even more. I drove the pre-facelift model.

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So, to sum up the SL350. If you are in the market for a cheap, efficient German convertible to soak up these Summer months then look no further. The SL combines good looks, great sounds and just overall awesomeness all into one package. But, don’t let the cheap buying price fool you. You may be the proud owner of an SL350 for €12k but it won’t be road legal till you fork out €1809 on road tax. The SL350 does roughly 11.5l/100km (20mpg) on petrol so bare this in mind. Then you will need to budget maintenance costs as a lot of the cars here are quite high mileage.

Some things to look out for when buying a used SL

  •  The SL is a convertible so your first port of call is to check for leaks anywhere around the boot or even in the cabin. Also make sure the roof operates properly it can be an expensive fix otherwise. 
  • On earlier SL350 and 500s, fuel tank baffles are prone to breaking causing them to rattle. Budget over €2,500 for this repair.
  • Any warning lights on the dash can lead to expensive problems, as too can ECU faults. Get your mechanic to plug the car in to a computer before buying to see a list of faults.
  • In March 2005, there was a worldwide recall on all V6 and V8 SLs built between January 2001 and November 2004 due to a fault with the voltage regulator in the alternator. Check the service history to see if the car you are buying was affected by this and if so had it been repaired.