Viva Vaux­hall as a mo­tor­ing icon is back

Macclesfield Express - - MOTORING -

NO apolo­gies this week for tak­ing a trip down mem­ory lane as our test car brought happy rec­ol­lec­tions of my child­hood flood­ing back.

Many peo­ple over a cer­tain age will have owned or been driven around by their par­ents in a Vaux­hall Viva. For decades, along with Ford Es­corts and Mor­ris Mari­nas, the Viva was one of the most com­mon cars on UK roads.

And now, af­ter a break of over 35 years, the Viva is back… well in name any­way as Vaux­hall re­vive the badge which adorned their most suc­cess­ful car of the 1960s and 70s..

Made from 1963 un­til 1979 there were three ver­sions – the boxy HA, the more stream­lined and Amer­i­can­in­flu­enced HB and the roomier HC – and my old mum had one of ev­ery type dur­ing my child­hood and teenage years.

Her first ever car was a 1964, 1,057cc dark blue base model HA – then we went up­mar­ket with a 1967 bright red HB in ‘SL trim’ (with bucket seats, and a ra­dio!) be­fore her fi­nal ver­sion, a white four-door HC.

Launched this sum­mer, the 2015 Viva is Vaux­hall’s all-new five door en­try-level ‘city car’ priced from £7,995 on the road.

And in a nod to its an­ces­tors, as well as the base SE model, there is a higher-spec SL ver­sion which was our very cute, cheer­ful and easy-to­drive test car this week – com­plete with very 1970s me­tal­lic pow­der blue paint­work.

Stan­dard kit is good on both ver­sions, but the SL in­cludes things not even dreamt of in the 60s and 70s like DAB ra­dio, mul­ti­ple airbags, tyre pres­sure mon­i­tor­ing, lane de­par­ture warn­ing, speed sen­si­tive power steer­ing with city mode, day­time run­ning lights, fog­lights with cor­ner­ing func­tion... plus fea­tures only found on lux­ury cars of the day like ad­justable steer­ing wheel and seat height, cruise con­trol, elec­tric win­dows, air-con, elec­tric/heated door mir­rors and re­mote cen­tral lock­ing.

Per­for­mance-wise all mod­els have the thrummy, three-cylin­der 74bhp 999cc petrol en­gine which de­liv­ers 0-60 in an ac­cept­able 13.1 sec­onds with a top speed of 106mph. The Viva is quite com­fort­able and per­forms well at mo­tor­way speeds and MPG fig­ures are a non-too-shabby shade over 50 ur­ban, 72 ex­tra-ur­ban and 63 com­bined.

Class-lead­ing tech­nol­ogy in­cludes ESP with trac­tion con­trol, cor­ner­ing brake con­trol, emer­gency brake as­sist, straight line sta­bil­ity con­trol and hill start as­sist as stan­dard across the range.

At £9,495, the SL spec also fea­tures ‘Moro­canna’ partleather style seat trim, leather steer­ing wheel and 15-inch al­loy wheels plus six speak­ers, USB au­dio con­nec­tion, Blue­tooth mu­sic stream­ing and a mo­bile phone por­tal.

Ex­tra cost op­tions avail­able in­clude a Win­ter Pack (heated seats and steer­ing wheel), rear park­ing sen­sors, me­tal­lic paint and an elec­tric glass slid­ing sun­roof.

Vaux­hall are clearly aim­ing the car at peo­ple with fond mem­o­ries of the old Vi­vas, and it seems to be work­ing.

A very po­lite lady who looked to be in her mid-50s tapped on my driver’s door win­dow on a town cen­tre car park to ask how much the Viva was as she ‘quite liked the look of it’.

When I told her prices start from £7,995 for the SE she seemed im­pressed... but was a bit less-so to learn that my top-of the range SL was £9,495 plus £545 for the me­tal­lic ‘Blue Ray’ paint­work.

But you have to re­mem­ber the 1964 Ellse­mere Port-built Viva cost £527 at a time when the av­er­age weekly wage was just £25 – yet Vaux­hall went on to sell over 1.5 mil­lion be­fore it was re­placed by the hatch­back As­tra in 1979.

And you can guess what my late mum’s next two cars were… although she did even­tu­ally get tempted away from Vaux­hall by Ford Fi­es­tas be­fore fi­nally hang­ing up her car keys aged 84!

●● The new Vaux­hall Viva city car and, inset from top, the orig­i­nal HA, HB and HC. Be­low – yours truly with my old mum’s first Viva

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.