Safe and sound
I got my first look at Vauxhall’s new Viva budget car when it made its debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March before going on sale back in June.
The original Viva first arrived way back in 1963 and was an instant hit with the British public. It notched over 1.5 million sales before being discontinued in 1979.
At launch it cost under £600 and was manufactured in Ellesmere Port – now the home of the Astra – before being dropped for a new product.
Back then it offered no frills motoring and this new car – now manufactured in South Korea – adopts a similar format.
The five-door hatchback Viva is priced from £7,995 to £9,495 and is available with just one engine – a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol variant that offers good economy, low emissions and surprising performance.
The Viva offers two trim levels and targets customers who are looking for value for money.
While other manufacturers have taken the fashion route with their small cars offering seemingly limitless personalisation options aimed mainly at young drivers, the Viva will attract buyers from all age groups.
It is a really stylish small car and is instantly recognisable as a Vauxhall. It’s well proportioned thanks to some well placed lines down its flanks and short front and rear overhangs. The nose features daytime running lights and Vauxhall’s trademark grille. Large headlights and taillights complete its good looks and the car is available in 10 colours with a variety of 15 or 16-inch wheels.
All models boast impressive equipment levels with the entry-level SE cars featuring daytime running lights, a decent sound system with auxin, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, cruise control with speed limiter, electric front windows and door mirrors, speed sensitive power steering with City Mode and a trip computer. The more expensive SL adds electronic climate control, a USB connection, Bluetooth music streaming, six speakers, a leather covered steering wheel, tinted rear windows and 15-inch alloys.
The 74bhp, 1.0-litre petrol engine is good for 106mph and takes 13.1 seconds to reach 62mph. The five-speed manual gearbox is smooth and easy to use.
There is no automatic choice at the moment but will join the range in January of next year.
It’s well suited to town and city driving as good visibility and light steering make manoeuvring a hoot. The small engine produces a decent turn of speed so you won’t have any trouble keeping up with other traffic.
According to official figures it can deliver combined fuel economy of 62.8mpg with emissions of 104g/km. An ecoFlex version cuts emissions to 99g/km and claims 65.7mpg.
The Viva looked good in red and impressed me by the amount of space it offered.
Despite its compact dimensions, there is room for two adults in the back and the 206 litre boot could be be increased to 1,013 litres with the rear 60/40 split seats folded flat.
Vauxhall have kept the interior simple with clear dials and instruments all well positioned for easy use. The dashboard is one of the best in this class although the plastics are a bit hard.
There is no doubt that the Viva is really at home in town but it is also a useful tool out on the open road. Long steep inclines can prove a drag if you have a few adults in the car but a quick gear change sorts that out.
The Viva provides a comfortable ride and the threecylinder engine is only noisy when you really push it hard.
All Viva models are packed with a comprehensive range of safety features, including antilock brakes, electronic stability programme, a tyre pressure monitoring system, traction control, lane departure warning system as well as numerous air bags.
The city car class is crowded with every manufacturer fighting for sales but the Viva is still an important addition.
It may not be as trendy as some of its opposition but I like its no nonsense approach to value for money motoring.
Vauxhall already has the Adam and Corsa in the small car sector and the Viva means that the company now has all the bases covered.
New for old the new Viva is pictured with the original 60s