By: Dave Abrahams
Seoul, South Korea - This is the Tivoli, the first new model to be launched following the merger of SsangYong and Mahindra.
The result of 42 months of development, it's an all-new B-segment SUV and yes, Cyril, it's named after the Italian town near Rome that's renowned as a style centre.
Already shown to the Korean media at special domestic-market preview, it will make its official world debut at the Geneva motor show in March, and will be released in South Africa during the second half of the year.
SsangYong has a well-deserved reputation for off-the-wall styling, but the Tivoli is, if anything rather more restrained than earlier efforts from this maker - possibly be due to the Indian influence.
Clearly derived from the XIV-Air concept, it has a strong bumper under a rounded bonnet and understated grille, leading to a neat two-box profile with a wide C pillar to add some gravitas.
A strong rear panel line curving around the wheel-arch a la Bentley, and a chromed trim strip around the base of the glazed area, ensure that you will never mistake a Tivoli for anything else.
The interior is intended to convey a sporty persona, with a leather-trimmed, heatable, flat-bottomed steering wheel and cylindrical instrument nacelles offering a choice of six backlighting colours.
The dual-zone auto aircon can be set to seven levels, in any of three different modes - and has a memory function so you don't have to go through all 21 permutations very time you change drivers.
By connecting your smart phone with the HDMI cable provided, you can stream your calls, music and videos to the six-speaker audio system and 7” display screen, which is also linked to the front and rear parking sensors and rear-view parking camera.
The cabin trim is also available in a choice of three colours - black, beige and red - while the cargo bay can swallow up to 423 litres before you even fold the rear seats flat.
The Tivoli will be powered by a new 1.6-litre petrol four with an aluminium bedplate and variable-length intake tracts, rated for 93kW at 6000 revs and 157Nm at 4600rpm; a 1.6-litre diesel will also be available in some markets.
Drive to the front wheels will be via either manual or auto transmission, each with six ratios in hand; fuel consumption is quoted at 8.1 litres per 100km for the manual and 8.3 for the self-shifter.
It rolls on McPherson-strut front and torsion-beam rear suspension with rear-mounted springs; disc brakes all round and 16” or 18” alloys complete the running gear.
A standard-issue 'smart' electric power steering system offers three modes - Normal, Comfort and Sport, for easy steering around town, effortless parking, or stable high-speed cruising.
Safety kit includes an electronic stability program, tyre pressure monitoring, seven airbags (including a driver's knee bag) and two pre-tensioners on each seatbelt.