KOREA is a long way from the heat, dust and flies of central Australia, so it is no surprise that a sharp-eyed Wheels reader spied this lightly disguised SsangYong Tivoli standing out like a bowl of kimchi at a Sunday barbecue.
Chris Oldaker snapped a version of the all-new city-friendly SUV just outside Alice Springs, showing that the brand is serious about the potential of bringing the cut-price soft-roader here where it will take on the likes of the Korean-made Holden Trax, India-sourced Ford EcoSport, Brit-built Nissan Juke and even the segment’s newest entrants, the soon-to-be-released Thai-built Honda HR-V and the Japan-sourced Mazda CX-3.
The Tivoli is so new that it was launched in Korea last week. Engines and drivelines include a 93kW 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine sending drive to only the front wheels or a 1.6-litre diesel engine powering all-wheel-drive versions, with the choice of a six-speed manual or automatic gearbox.
A spokesman for Ateco Automotive, the brand’s distributor in Australia, said the left-hand-drive Tivoli was here to stress test its air-conditioning system while most of Korea lay under a blanket of winter snow. He also revealed it was one of a number of product development vehicles testing here.
SsangYong is keen to sell the Tivoli in Australia, where it will fight for a slice of one of Australia’s fastest-growing segments as buyers walk past traditional hatchbacks for the raised height and adventure-bound looks of shrunken-down SUVs.
However, its biggest hurdle at the moment is believed to be from the enemy within, where a strong Korean won and unfavourable exchange rates make the task of fitting out the Tivoli for the Australian market at a low $20K price point difficult.
Sign up here to receive the latest round-up of Wheels news, reviews and video highlights straight to your inbox each week.
Want free access to 5 years of Wheels archive content? Sign up now!