Although the Tivoli’s powertrain is a bit noisy and much prefers a measured driving style to a hurried one, it offers three things that are likely to appeal to its customer base: decent fuel economy, adequately gutsy acceleration and the laid-back ease of use conferred by the use of a proper torque converter automatic gearbox.

It’s a combination that’s actually quite rare at the affordable end of the crossover class, with the diesel options either costing more or coming with a fairly small and relatively weedy engine and either a robotised manual or dual-clutch automatic gearbox.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
Given the right ratio, the engine is happy to accelerate, but the auto struggles to select it under load

The upshot is that you can punt around in the Tivoli very easily and without investing much effort. There’s plenty of torque on offer without needing to work the engine up to its 4000rpm rev limit, and certainly enough that you can keep the car’s mass rolling along easily and then accelerate it fairly briskly when you need to.

That Aisin gearbox is at its best when shifting ratios on part-throttle and keeping the engine’s crankshaft between 2000 and 3000rpm, something it does well enough.

There is a manual shift mode, commanded by a small switch positioned on the gear selector itself, to be twiddled with your left thumb. But honestly, it’s a mistake to try to interact too closely with this powertrain or generally stoke it too hard, with manual changes being delivered in an unhurried fashion.

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There’s also no kickdown switch at the bottom of the accelerator pedal travel; as a result, there’s no easy way to keep the car locked in gear at full power when climbing or overtaking.

Downshifts can come at anything more than about 75% throttle, whether you’re in manual mode or automatic and whether you want them or not – except, that is, when you really want one, such as when you’re climbing hard or overtaking and need every available horsepower, at which point they seem to either take an age to arrive or sometimes fail to materialise at all.

It’s a bit disappointing that the Tivoli’s engine isn’t more mechanically refined. The cabin registered 68dB at 50mph, compared with 65dB in the equivalent Renault Kadjar (although the French car is slower and, in some ways, less driveable).

But overall, while we have a few issues with the way in which it goes about its business, we’d accept that what the Tivoli delivers is competitive in most ways that matter to its target audience. 

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