There are design niggles that come from trying to do a tiny bit too much, the way a multitasker never quite finishes anything
My abiding feeling about the Ssangyong Tivoli XLV is that it’s trying to convey quite a lot – dependability, maturity, affluence – at quite a low price. It’s the car Breaking Bad’s Walter White would have driven if he hadn’t got cancer and swapped teaching chemistry for cooking crystal meth. There are design niggles that come from trying to do a bit too much, the way a multitasker never quite finishes anything. The seatbelt alarm comes on with the engine, which makes you feel harassed just for getting in. There are two mysterious gaps in the boot floor, so stuff rolls underneath it and nestles around the spare wheel. I spent the whole week thinking, “I’m sure I had more onions”, until I finally lost two bottles of wine and investigated properly. The sound system is a bit tinny, while the cabin is alive with stitching and high contrasts, but feels as if you might flick something open and find it’s held together with gaffer tape.
But once you had reconciled yourself to the interior, I think you’d become quite fond of it. The cabin is visually busy, but pulls off a rare combination, being intuitive yet novel; I think all European cars are secretly gunning to be like the VW, only more exciting. They didn’t get that memo in South Korea, and the result is ergonomic and distinctive.