The point of difference

by Andy Bryenton

The station wagon — or the estate car, if you’re to use the Euro-zone nomenclature — is officially an endangered species. The mid-sized and mini SUV has entered the market like a shoal of deadly piranhas introduced into a koi pond, and the body shape we remember from many a summer holiday may soon go the way of the traditional sedan-at-the-front, tradie-at-the-back Aussie ute.

In such a market, similar shapes proliferate by a process of convergent evolution. Wind tunnels pare down drag coefficients. Interior space demands cut into the free will of exterior designers.

As usual, concept cars, which roll out at the world’s auto shows with 40-inch rims and more chrome than a 1950s American diner’s cutlery drawer are toned down into the beige end of the spectrum by the accountants.

Which brings us neatly to something different — the SsangYong Tivoli. A small SUV, which uses its point of difference to a huge advantage. Since it’s not made by one of the old-established names we have known since the 1980s, it dares to be different in its styling, presenting something which other road users will actually look at.

Yes, it gets a frugal 6.6 litres for every 100 kilometres, and yes, it can fit a whole lot of people and gear inside with its artful layout. However, first and foremost, it’s strikingly well-sculpted. Able to be optioned with more customisation than most vehicles in its class. Fancy this pretty and practical little sports utility in white with a red interior? How about fire engine red with a carbon black roof? In a sea of the ordinary, the Tivoli swims against the current.

Moreover, that appeals to those who buy with their heart instead of their head. A smart move indeed for a company which plugs in the right metrics to convince cold and calculating buyers as well. Here are two — a price under $26k and a five-year factory warranty. Combine it all, and you have an attractive package. Because while there are some who want a car as an appliance to shuttle them from A to B, most of us want something pretty and fun. A tiny new Mini or new Fiat 500 may be a touch too small. However, this — could be just the ticket.