Parkers overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 3.5

If you’ve ever sat in any other SsangYong released before the Tivoli the first thing you’ll notice is how large a leap the firm has taken with both interior quality and design. Compared to the drab grey, unimaginative and old-fashioned layouts and materials of the Rexton W or Turismo this Tivoli feels modern, fresh and dare we say it bordering on youthful.

The steering wheel has a currently-fashionable flat-bottom, the instruments behind are neatly styled and easy to read, the centre console houses a seven-inch colour touchscreen infotainment system and a switchgear that feels borderline robust. Only the optional climate control’s red slimline buttons and some over-shiny materials around the transmission lose points for quality.

There’s an acceptable amount of adjustment from the comfortable seats, so settling into your desired driving position isn’t much of a chore and the layout placed in front of you is clean and considered. Those that have sat-nav fitted will find it is a TomTom based system that is easy to use and has clear graphics and easy to follow turn-by-turn commands.

We’re not convinced by the red leather option though, used on sections of the wheel, dash, seats and doorcards. It looks fairly funky now, but suspect in time will appear rather gaudy – especially as it starts to age and wear.

As a junior SUV this isn’t a sportscar and accordingly SsangYong Tivoli comfort is actually rather decent. Our test route, imaginatively taking us to the Tivoli gardens outside of Rome, Italy, took in some of the very worst roads we’ve ever experienced. Here the SsangYong Tivoli felt slightly firm, but dealt with the moon-crater potholes acceptably – especially on the 16-inch wheels of the entry-level SE specification.

Having only tried the petrol model so far we can’t comment on the noise or refinement of the diesel, but the petrol was acceptable for the class. Driven hard, which we suspect most Tivolis won’t be, there is a slight whine at the top end but in general the 1.6-litre petrol engine is smooth and relatively quiet. Wind noise was vaguely noticeable, but more so on one side of our test car than the other so we suspect that is down to an ill-fitting seal rather than an inherent design problem.

The driver’s seat offers height adjustment and proves comfortable and supportive enough for most typical Tivoli manoeuvres. Choose the mid-spec EX model and the front pair are heated and covered in leather. Tick the correct options boxes and you can have the steering wheel heated too, while in a first for the segment ventilated seats are also available.