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First drive: Vauxhall Viva. Image by Vauxhall.

First drive: Vauxhall Viva
Bargain motoring from Vauxhall with the new Viva city car.

   



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Vauxhall Viva

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Vauxhall adds another model to its small car portfolio, reviving a classic nameplate in the process: the Viva. While the 2015 edition is no three-box saloon, it still links back to the original in that it's all about affordable motoring for the masses. So no, the modern-day Viva is not exactly exciting, but it is a very simple premise well executed, which we happen to like.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Vauxhall Viva SE 1.0
Pricing: from 7,995; car as tested 8,540 (545 metallic Fresh Green paint)
Engine: 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol
Transmission: front-wheel drive, five-speed manual
Body style: five-door hatchback
CO2 emissions: 104g/km (VED Band B, 0 year one, 20 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 62.8mpg
Top speed: 106mph
0-62mph: 13.1 seconds
Power: 75hp at 6,500rpm
Torque: 95Nm at 4,500rpm

What's this?

The third instalment in Vauxhall's compact cars line-up, this time called the Viva - resurrecting a nameplate last seen in 1979. This is a sub-Corsa and Adam level machine, designed to be an amount of car to people who 'just want to get from A to B' with the minimum of fuss. To that end, it is offered with one engine and transmission combination, the normally aspirated 75hp 1.0-litre Ecotec three-cylinder petrol with a five-speed manual gearbox. There are two trims, entry-level SE and SL, the latter again a nod to the original Viva. SE cars come pretty well equipped though, with city mode steering, cruise control, lane departure warning, steering wheel controls, remote central locking, six airbags and front fog lights with a cornering function all thrown in. Styling-wise, it features some current Vauxhall themes (side slashes, the lower 'door blade' and the winged grille) and is a pert little vehicle, although we'd hardly call it beautiful. Still, nothing in this class is miles ahead of the Viva aesthetically.

The interior is fine, given Vauxhall clearly states it was not trying to offer soft-touch plastics and the like at this price point; instead, the surfaces are said to be hard-wearing and durable. It's not ugly or grim inside, although some rivals do offer a bit more visual pizzazz - like body-coloured panels and funky central display screens - that might tempt A-segment buyers to non-Griffin showrooms. However, the Vauxhall is big enough within to take four six-footers, while it has a reasonable boot of 206 litres. The rear seats also fold 60:40. Vauxhall expects three in five Vivas to be SEs and nine in ten to be retail purchases by either under 25s or an older buying demographic of 45 to 55. Early in 2016, IntelliLink and GM's new OnStar communication package will be offered either as options or standard fit on the Viva range, and SE Air Con and SE EcoFlex models arrive too - the latter of which improves the economy/emissions figures of the car, via low rolling resistance tyres and aero mods, to 65.7mpg and 99g/km CO2, freeing it from VED requirements.

How does it drive?

Vauxhall has steered clear of turbocharging the Viva, much to the chagrin of some critics, but there are plenty of cars in this micro-city car sector that feature naturally aspirated three-cylinder engines under the bonnet, with the same as or less than the 75hp of GM's creation - it's no different in many respects to the Volkswagen up!/SEAT Mii/Skoda Citigo trio, the Toyota Yaris/Peugeot 108/Citroen C1 or the Hyundai i10. OK, Vauxhall has a turbocharged three at its disposal, the 115hp unit seen in the Adam and Corsa, but spokespeople on hand at this launch said adding that engine would have added cost, thus defeating the primary purpose of the Viva.

Which is to offer simple - but not bare bones basic - motoring for a reasonable outlay. Judged on that score, it looks like Vauxhall has a hit on its hands. Yes, the Viva is a car you need to drive with some awareness on the open roads, because it will punish the lazy in a way turbocharged cars will not. You therefore need to stir the light-of-throw gearbox regularly to make acceptable progress, yet even the slightest bit of driving competence should see you keeping up with traffic without having to thrash the raving bejesus out of the poor Viva. Would have been nice if Vauxhall had offered some sort of collar or depression mechanism to engage reverse, though, as it will be all-too-easy for some drivers to inadvertently try and slot an imaginary sixth on the move.

What's more commendable is how grown up the Viva feels. It genuinely has the manners of a larger B- or even C-segment machine, its short wheelbase refreshingly not providing a fidgety ride and the major sound contributors all quelled to a surprisingly high standard. This means that, once wound up to 70mph, it is a hushed and smooth operator, gliding along big A-road dual carriageways with ease. Also, despite the relatively high-rpm peak torque, the Viva 1.0 has enough zip and cleverly short lower gears to make city driving a breeze, while the sharp city mode steering is a nice touch. The pay-off for this refinement is that, if you have to work the engine often to keep up with traffic, the 62.8mpg quoted economy figure is going to be little short of impossible to attain.

There's a final surprise in the Viva's locker and that's a remarkably able chassis. The car has high levels of resistance to understeer, decent steering feel at speed, little to no body roll and lots and lots of grip, which means that preserving what precious pace you've accumulated is no drama at all. It's definitely a set-up that we think could easily handle more power...

Verdict

The Vauxhall Viva might well have restrained interior design that is slathered in 'durable' plastics, and it might well have a normally aspirated petrol engine in an era when rivals are opting for forced induction, but actually neither of these things matter - because, as it's well equipped, thoughtfully packaged and thoroughly grown-up to drive, it proves to be a likeable little motor. Especially when you factor in it costs as little as 7,995 and doesn't feel like a gulag as a result. Extremely well judged for the market it is set to compete in, this is one of Vauxhall's better creations.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

3 3 3 3 3 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 3 Jun 2015



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2015 Vauxhall Viva. Image by Vauxhall.2015 Vauxhall Viva. Image by Vauxhall.2015 Vauxhall Viva. Image by Vauxhall.2015 Vauxhall Viva. Image by Vauxhall.2015 Vauxhall Viva. Image by Vauxhall.

2015 Vauxhall Viva. Image by Vauxhall.2015 Vauxhall Viva. Image by Vauxhall.2015 Vauxhall Viva. Image by Vauxhall.2015 Vauxhall Viva. Image by Vauxhall.2015 Vauxhall Viva. Image by Vauxhall.



2015 Vauxhall Viva. Image by Vauxhall.
 

2015 Vauxhall Viva. Image by Vauxhall.
 

2015 Vauxhall Viva. Image by Vauxhall.
 

2015 Vauxhall Viva. Image by Vauxhall.
 

2015 Vauxhall Viva. Image by Vauxhall.
 

2015 Vauxhall Viva. Image by Vauxhall.
 

2015 Vauxhall Viva. Image by Vauxhall.
 

2015 Vauxhall Viva. Image by Vauxhall.
 

2015 Vauxhall Viva. Image by Vauxhall.
 






 

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