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New lease of life for Vauxhall’s value revival Viva

11:34 14 September 2015

Vauxhall Viva is reborn as a value city car that is  very likeable and capable for the money.

Vauxhall Viva is reborn as a value city car that is very likeable and capable for the money.

DAVID L F SMITH

Motoring editor Andy Russell wasn’t convinced about reviving the Viva name but Vauxhall’s new city car is a star in its own right.

What’s in a name?

I was in two minds when Vauxhall revived the Viva name for its new city car.

Recreating an icon worked with MINI, the Volkswagen Beetle and Fiat 500 but while I never actually drove the original Viva – I was a toddler when it was launched in 1963 and it went out of production not longer after I had learned to drive – it wasn’t exactly exciting.

Many people this city car is aimed at may not even know Vauxhall made a Viva before so will have no pre-conceptions but its comeback has created hype around this new budget addition to Vauxhall’s small-car range.

Vauxhall Viva

Price: SE 1.0 £7,995 (range to £9,495)

Engine: 999cc, 75PS, three-cylinder petrol

Performance: 0-62mph 13.1 seconds; top speed 106mph

MPG: Urban 50.4; extra urban 72.4; combined 62.8

CO2 emissions: 104g/km

Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 15%

Insurance group: 4E (out of 50)

Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles

Will it fit in the garage? L 3,675mm; W (including door mirrors) 1,876mm; H 1,485mm

Looks good

Vauxhall is good at making small cars and the Viva fills the gap left by the Agila, the city car created in partnership in Suzuki. The Viva is a little looker with Vauxhall’s distinctive sculpted blade styling. That said, I don’t think my test car’s pale blue ray paintwork showed it in its best light.

Pretty to look at, it’s also pretty good package that left me far more impressed than I had expected. This is a sensible choice if you want a small car that’s cheap and cheerful… and it is cheerful.

Under the bonnet

I’m a fan of the new generation of small, three-cylinder petrol engines and Vauxhall’s 1.0-litre unit, launched in Adam and then Corsa and now going into new Astra, is up there with the best.

The Viva sees the introduction of a specially-developed non-turbo 75PS version and it stands out for its impressive smoothness and refinement – at low revs you hardly hear it.

It feels quicker than the figures suggest and revs happily in the lower gears – hitting 70mph in third – so has enough oomph to get past slow traffic with a little planning and a lot of revs. And 50 to 55mpg in everyday driving, even with some hard driving, will also put a smile on your face.

How does it drive

This is a city car so ease of use is more important than a rewarding ride and the Viva nails the urban environment with its slick five-speed manual gearbox and light steering, with a city mode, and clutch action to take the strain out of stop-start driving. The wheels pushed out to the corners maximises the Viva’s footprint so it feels well planted and stable, even on bumpy roads.

So it’s capable and comfortable in the city, but not out of its depth on to the open road with an agile, accurate manner through the twists and turns.

Space and comfort

Pushing the wheels out to the corners also makes the most of interior space and you can seat four average-sized adults quite comfortably with acceptable legroom, if those up front are also accommodating, and plenty of headroom. You can seat three in the back but it would be rather cosy for adults.

The 206-litre boot is well shaped to make the most of the space – enough for half a dozen large supermarket shopping bags. The 60/40 split rear seat backs fold flat but you have to lift the seat cushions and remove the headrests or slide the front seats forward first.

At the wheel

A simple fascia with big clear dials, straightforward rotary controls for the heating and ventilation system and a high-rise infotainment system all add to the Viva’s easy-driver credentials. And, given the value pricing, gloss back trim round the audio system and some brightwork highlights break up the hard plastics which are at least nicely textured.

Cabin storage is also good with a large glovebox and doorbins and cubbyholes between the seats.

Value and equipment

Priced from £7,995 on the road, there’s no denying Viva’s value, especially as standard kit includes tyre pressure monitoring, city mode steering, lane departure warning, cruise control with speed limiter, front fog lights with cornering function, stability and traction control, hill-start assist, six airbags, radio with auxiliary jackpoint and steering wheel controls, electric front windows, electric/heated mirrors and remote locking. There’s also a SE version with air-conditioning for an extra £495.

The £9,495 SL includes climate control, upgraded seat trim, leather steering wheel, 15in alloy wheels, six speakers, USB audio connection, Bluetooth music streaming and mobile phone portal.

Final say

After initial reservations over the Viva name, this city car won me over with its value, generous kit and driving appeal. With the Vauxhall Griffin badge on its nose and tail, you can’t ignore this cute city car. The Viva was always sensible transport and the revived model continues that trend.

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Andy Russell

Andy Russell

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EDP motoring editor, journalist who loves wheels and engines but hates cleaning them.

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