Double vision

by Andy Bryenton

The age of the station wagon is over — the era of the crossover SUV is firmly here to stay. 

But what does that mean if you still want the convenience of that long, flat boot space and the lower operating costs of a stretched sedan? Is there room in the new world of bigger rims and jacked up ride heights for something to truly usurp the kind of cars which took us to innumerable childhood camping holidays?

Ssangyong are among those who say yes — and they’ve brought something new to the table to back up their assertion. Taking the platform of their break-out hit — the funky, compact little Tivoli — the Korean automakers have given it a tweak and a stretch, creating the new Tivoli XLV. The original combined everything the world enjoyed in the original supermini — funky two-tone paintwork, crisp retro-inspired lines, nimble handling and a low fuel bill. Now it’s been given the kind of extra boost in space which we used to see in big Commodore and Falcon sedans when they became the station wagon or estate model.

This renders an impressive 720 litres of boot space, with the option for even more when the rear seats fold flat. In standard configuration that means room for five with plenty of gear — the ideal family touring machine.

Dad’s old Valiant may have been twice the size, but this modern alternative packs in more comfort, more technology, and importantly a ton of safety systems unheard of in the days of cassette tapes and tartan blanket seat covers. As well as a full suite of airbags and an electronic stability programme, electronic brake-force distribution and anti-lock brakes work together to ensure that the front and rear wheels brake proportionately according to the number of occupants and the weight of the onboard load.

The economical 1.6 litre engine under the hood delivers 7.6 litres per 100km efficiency while still producing 126 horsepower — in a vehicle which is light and agile in city traffic despite its carry capacity.

With the option to select a steering mode from comfortable to sporty, once you take to the highway this is no mundane people mover.

Ssangyong have made a name as a clever alternative, and with the original Tivoli they made a bold statement, claiming a new sub-sector in the market. Now they’ve done it again, with a fresh twist on a popular concept.