Vauxhall Viva

returns - and it's

good

Vauxhall Viva, front, action
Vauxhall Viva, old and new
Vauxhall Viva, front
Vauxhall Viva, side
Vauxhall Viva, rear, action
Vauxhall Viva, interior
Vauxhall Viva, instruments
Vauxhall Viva, rear seats
Vauxhall Viva HA, 1963, front, action
Vauxhall Viva HA, 1963, side, action
Vauxhall Viva HA, 1963, rear, action
Vauxhall Viva HA, 1963, interior
Vauxhall Viva, ECOTEC engine
Vauxhall Viva, boot, maximum
Vauxhall Viva, boot
Vauxhall Viva, radio

BACK in the Swinging Sixties the Vauxhall Viva was an everyday sight on Britain's roads, a car loved by motorists the nation over.

Cheaper than a Mini Cooper and big enough to carry a family of four, the Viva became an instant hit notching up more than 300,000 sales from its launch in 1963 until its replacement arrived three years later.

Now there's a new one on the way and more than 50 years down the line it's true to the spirit of the original offering value for money motoring to the masses.

Priced from £7,995 the new Viva is Vauxhall's bargain model - £1,000 less than the cheapest Corsa - and with the Adam gives the British marque a trio of cars covering all the bases in the small hatchback market.

It's aimed at those who want a no-nonsense car that's easy to drive and cheap to run and as an all round proposition the Viva is ahead of the game.

It looks good, drives well, is well appointed and well built with something of an honest feel to the interior.

There are no pretentious quirks and it sets out its stall as a car that's pure and simple rather than a feast of technology on four wheels.

Alternatives such as the Toyota Aygo and Peugeot 108 lean towards the younger buyer but the Viva is setting out its stall to cater for a broad audience.

Four versions and two trim levels are available and all come in below £10,000 with the highest specification Viva SL priced from £9,495.

All are powered by non-turbo version of Vauxhall's 1.0-litre, three-cylinder ECOTEC petrol engine which, in boosted guise is already used in the Corsa and the Adam.

In the Viva it develops 75ps which is good enough to handle all but very steep hills where you have to work down through the five speed manual box to keep momentum.

Top speed is a claimed 106mph with a 0 to 60 acceleration of 13.1 seconds and Vauxhall is claiming an official fuel return of 62.8mpg with emissions of 104g/km.

It is impressively quiet and lively enough for most and we managed to average 50 to the gallon with ease.

An ecoFLEX version which is designed for extra fuel efficiency with improved aerodynamics in the shape of front and rear spoilers and low rolling resistance tyres will be road tax free at 99g/km (65.7mpg) and priced from £8,170.

As with the entry level Viva SE it comes with a good amount of equipment including cruise control, heated door mirrors, electric front windows, lane departure warning and a tyre pressure monitoring system - but air conditioning is as £495 extra and so is Bluetooth connectivity which can be had with an upgraded radio for another £175.

The Viva SL has climate control, Bluetooth as standard as well as USB plug-ins plus some extra cosmetics such as a two-tone facia, a leather covered steering wheel, darkened rear windows and 15-inch alloys instead of the steel rims on the SE.

All have variable power steering which can be switched to a lighter mode for manoeuvring. There are no complaints about the handling and while the ride is on the firm side that gives it a sturdy feel for a small car.

The facia has a quality appearance and come next year it will be available with a display screen in the dash to accommodate Vauxhall's Intellilink communications system which works via a smartphone hook up to deliver Internet connections and navigation.

The Viva is a five door hatch and space inside is above average with easy access front and rear. Luggage space ranges from 206 to 1,013 litres with the rear seats folded but there is no spare wheel and a tyre repair kit is installed beneath the boot floor.

At 12ft 3ins long the Viva is around a foot shorter than the Corsa and similar in proportion to a Fiat 500 although it looks - and feels - bigger.

Much of that is down to the sculpted styling with flowing lines along the sides - a characteristic of the latest Vauxhalls. There are also some flashback cues to the original Viva with the flutes at the edges of the bonnet and a pronounced centre line towards the nose - all set off with daytime running lights and Vauxhall's trademark grille.

While the original was the first car to come off the line at the Vauxhall factory in Ellesmere Port on the Wirral - now the home of the Astra - the newcomer is very much a part of the General Motors global family and is made in South Korea where the underpinnings will form the next generation of a small car range for sale across the world.

For Europe the car has been specifically styled and on the continent it will be sold by Vauxhall's sister brand Opel as the Karl.

As compact family cars go the Viva is a breath of fresh air. It delivers on all fronts, is exceptionally well finished and does exactly what is required.

Think back to the original which had a top speed of just 78mph and a 0 to 60 time of 19.6 seconds and cost £578 and there's plenty of food for thought. The average wage in 1963 was £18 a week and house prices were around £3,000 - like for like that makes the new Viva an absolute snip. As budget buys go it is at the top of the pile.

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