TRIO LEADS RESURRECTION
Korean marque returns, displaying confidence after a two-year hiatus
Only a mother could love the previous generation SsangYong line-up.
While the mum of SsangYong Australia’s managing director Tim Smith has a deep affection for the new Tivoli compact SUV, she won’t be alone. Looking like a blend of Suzuki Vitara and Mini, the Tivoli is the star recruit among a trio of new variants spearheading SsangYong’s return to Australia after a two-year hiatus.
Armed with a seven-year, unlimitedkilometre warranty — matching the industrybest benchmark set by Kia — and standard safety gear including autonomous emergency braking and forward collision warning, SsangYong has relaunched with 32 dealers and a strong drive-away pricing proposition.
The Tivoli starts from $23,490, a sevenseater Rexton begins at $39,990, while the dual-cab ute range has models priced from $30,490. An extended version of the Tivoli, called an ELV with an extra 238mm at the back, has a starting price of $31,990.
“I don’t want a flash in the pan. We are here for the long haul,” Smith says.
SsangYong’s resurrection is also factory backed. Australia is the brand’s first factory subsidiary — the Mahindra-owned outfit has previously only worked globally with distributors.
Like successful Korean brands Kia and Hyundai, SsangYong is currently preparing an Australian tuning team which will make suspension and handling changes for improved performance.
Bolstering SsangYong’s chances of success is the popularity of SUVs and dual-cab utes. SUVs are outselling passenger cars, while utes secured three of the top 10 positions on Australian sales charts last month.
The Tivoli is forecast to be the biggest seller, but Smith can see a big opportunity with the dual-cab ute, where he hopes to “throw a cat among the pigeons”.
Musso utes, and the Rexton SUV, come with a 3.5-tonne towing capacity and 350kg tow ball rating. Early next year will also see the arrival of a longer wheelbase version of the Musso that Smith claims will have the biggest tray in its segment and raise the payload from 790kg to 1020kg with a leaf spring rear suspension.
That will be followed by a major model change to the Tivoli, which includes a 1.5-litre turbo petrol, as well as an all-new mid-size SUV rumoured to be the next Korando.
Marketing manager Mitch Wiley has the greatest challenge: convincing Australians they can trust another brand — but the marque has already addressed its greatest hurdle. Design.
“The previous iterations of these cars have been polarising. There are a lot of people who love what they look like and there are a lot of people that might question it, but it is in the eye of the beholder,” Wiley says.
Safety will include autonomous emergency braking and forward collision warning standard on every model. The Tivoli will, however, launch with a four-star crash rating due to low rear child occupancy performance. Other models are yet to be finalised.
Radar cruise control is also not available, even on high-end variants, despite having the forward collision software.
The engines all come from the South Korean carmaker, with the only lingering partnership hangover with Mercedes-Benz a seven-speed automatic gearbox found in the Rexton.
BOOTED: The ‘stretched’ version of the Tivoli, called the XLV. TOP: The Musso interior.