Gareth Butterfield tries out the new Vauxhall Viva and finds there’s much to like about the great-value city car.
I DON’T remember the old Vauxhall Viva very well, the car that gave this small newcomer its name.
I do however, remember the arrival of the first generation Vauxhall Corsa. I remember it well enough to know it felt about the same size as the new Viva does now.
I also remember, because it was only this year, driving the very latest Corsa and thinking “crikey, this is a big car now”.
And as I sat inside the fairly spartan, but cleverly laid-out interior of the new Viva, I realised that perhaps Vauxhall has now come full circle. Perhaps its Corsa has grown so big, they’ve had to create an entirely new model to fill the rapidly growing small city-car segment.
Whether that’s the case or not, the Viva is certainly a credible stab at this extremely popular corner of the market and it’s locking horns with some pretty good cars, but as with just about every Vauxhall, it has value for money on its side.
Put it this way, for a shade under £8,000 you can have a nippy, economical and attractive-in-the-right-light little runabout with quite a few goodies included.
As standard, the Viva comes with cruise control, electric front windows, heated mirrors and fog lights among its offerings. Granted, you’ll miss out on USB, a digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity or air-conditioning, but you don’t have to spend much for a model with all this thrown in.
It drives well too. Power comes courtesy of a 75PS 1.0-litre normally aspirated engine that’s quiet, revvy and faster than every other entry-level 1.0-litre petrol rival, making 62mph from rest in 13.1 seconds.
The ride is firm, but supple enough over all but the worst surfaces and, while there’s quite a lot of noise at speed body roll is kept in check and a slick gearchange means you can enjoy getting the most from the characterful little three cylinder twin cam engine.
In town, a light “City” option on the steering makes parking easy and the suspension initially feels firm, but it softens big bumps very well. It’s a great package overall.
The Viva fills the brief of being a straight-forward, no fuss, no frills car which should have a broad appeal among many UK buyers, so there’s no endless personalisation options like its garish cousin the Adam and everything inside feels grown-up and well put together.
Given its diminutive dimensions, it’s big inside too. It’ll just about squeeze five people in and there’s a decent boot.
Economy and emissions are good, too. It dips below the 100g/km mark, just, and it will easily return 60mpg in the real world, even if driven hard – which is reasonably necessary given the lack of power.
What Vauxhall has done with the new Viva is gone back to what it has always done best. It’s made a car which is by no means unimaginative, but it easy to understand.
It’s easy for people who know nothing about cars to recognise it as a good package. A solid all-rounder, and not something that will take enormous research or brain power to purchase.
If this is the spiritual successor to the first generation Corsa then only time will tell whether it becomes as successful as the first generation Corsa.
It’s a different industry now, and the segment is swimming with competition. But, fair play, they’ve had a really good stab at it.