Long live the Vauxhall Viva

It’s an old name but a new car: Vauxhall wants a slice of the growing affordable city car market and its new Viva promises to challenge the likes of Toyota’s Aygo and Skoda’s Citigo on price and features.

2015 Vauxhall Viva
2015 Vauxhall Viva

So what’s new? Well, the name certainly isn’t but Vauxhall’s modern day Viva allows the firm to offer an affordable compact car to compete in a packed market. Positioned below the popular Corsa, the Viva is priced to appeal 
to cost-conscious buyers seeking a 
practical and functional ownership 

That said, there’s no evidence of sackcloth seat upholstery in the Viva. Vauxhall’s keen to impress that its new small car is anything but a compromise. Power comes from the firm’s recently introduced 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol motor, while the five-door layout means rear space is useable and not just for show.

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If you want to make a flashy statement or personalise your new purchase, the Adam is the car for you. For everyone else, the Viva performs an important role in Vauxhall’s ecosystem; attracting buyers looking for an easy-on-the-eye yet stylish package. The Viva has no trouble ticking that box, and also adds plenty of familiar Vauxhall design cues. The same is true inside, with the car delivering a functional yet attractive cabin. The fuss-free fascia is a pleasing and refreshing approach, too.

Competition in the city car market is fierce yet the Viva’s five-door layout should appeal to buyers seeking a little more practicality. At the rear the car’s boot is a good size for something in this sector, and folding the rear seats further boosts its versatility. You won’t have any issues directing adults to the rear seats as the legroom is surprisingly decent despite the Viva’s overall lack of length. It’s a similar deal up front as two adults can happily co-exist without bashing elbows and there’s ample space for all your personal items.

Continuing Vauxhall’s modest approach to Viva motoring, the car comes with a 1.0-litre, 75-horsepower petrol engine. Don’t be put off, as the car will happily keep up with urban traffic and rarely struggles away from the city limits. You’d be advised not to be in a hurry, but the payoff is a decent ride, slick manual gearshift and confidence-inspiring steering.

Visibility is good and Vauxhall’s also done a sound job nailing the cabin 
ergonomics. And thanks to its modest dimensions parking is a breeze. General usability is key to attract buyers, and while fresh exterior design cues are welcome, it’s the Viva’s ease of use that’s likely to continue to be appreciated long after the new car smell has gone.

Vauxhall’s headline-grabbing sub (just) eight grand asking price for the entry-level Viva is appealing, but you’d be wise to move up a trim level to access better entertainment kit and air con. Still, the base SE could hardly be viewed as poverty spec thanks to its six airbags, alarm, cruise control, heated mirrors, split-fold rear seats. A dedicated air-con-equipped model is offered, while the SL grade adds USB and Bluetooth audio connections, alloy wheels and climate control.

If you’re a fan of function over form and the current crop of style-led ‘happy-clappy’ city cars leave you cold then the Viva is the car for you. It’s well equipped even in entry-level SE trim and is both spacious and practical enough to perform well outside the safe confines of the city limit. Frugal and promising low ownership costs, the Viva is unlikely to be a strain on your wallet, too.

Fast Facts

Vauxhall Viva SE, £7,995

Engine: 1.0-litre petrol unit producing 75bhp

Transmission: five-speed manual driving the front wheels

Performance: Top speed 106mph, 0-62mph in 13.1 seconds

Economy: 72.4mpg combined

Emissions:104g/km of CO2