It’s here that the XLV’s positioning begins to work against it.

The decision to offer it only in range-topping ELX trim, which packs it full of kit and makes it appealing in some ways, means that an 18in alloy and relatively low-profile rubber is the sole wheel and tyre combination on offer.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
Decent grip and body control mean you can drive fairly hard through tighter corners, but muted feedback makes it difficult to judge the limit of grip

And if you believe, like us, that the dynamic brief of a pragmatic, practical, sensibly priced family car is to be quiet and comfortable first and foremost, you won’t fail to be a bit disappointed by the upshot of that.

Predictably, that upshot is a ride that is slightly abrupt, coarse and unflattering. While it isn’t anywhere near as poor as the similarly positioned MG GS, the ride does just about enough to remind you, every mile or so with a fidget, rumble or thump, that you’re driving something that wasn’t as skilfully judged through the chassis development stages as it might have been.

But all is not lost. There are three presets on power steering weight to choose from. The heaviest, Sport mode, gives the wheel the most helpful on-centre stability and just about enough heft to keep you from overworking the controls at low speeds and inadvertently breaching what are respectable but quite middling grip levels.

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Little contact patch feel is detectable through the rim, but weighting and pace are consistent and the system is well mannered at all times, except when bigger bumps cause some disruption.

Bigger, taller front-wheel-drive cars can sometimes suffer from poor traction when cornering, but the Tivoli XLV doesn’t, while body control is decent and matched well to available lateral grip. When you do begin to lean on the car harder than its suspension will tolerate without forcing its tyres to run wide, the standard stability control system intervenes progressively and effectively to keep you roughly on your intended path.

Slightly firmer than average suspension keeps the Tivoli XLV safe, stable and secure in an emergency. The stopping distance that the car recorded wasn’t brilliant, with its standard-fit Nexen tyres making plenty of screeching noises while doing a limited amount of gripping, and the car’s nose dived markedly. But good roll control means that grip always ebbs away from the front axle first when cornering hard.

Even with the steering in Sport mode, it’s almost impossible to feel the point at which the outside front wheel begins to run out of grip.

Thankfully, the car’s stability control system mitigates the need to know somewhat, by intervening quite subtly to keep the car on line when you accelerate through a corner and preventing you from pouring on excessive amounts of torque.

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