By Patrick James on 2016-03-27 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
Vauxhall Viva 1.0 SL
REVIVING a name can be a risky business, particularly if previously those names had a chequered history.
Over the years I have owned both Mark I HA and Mark II HB Vauxhall Vivas, cars that gave much pleasure, but also plenty of time with the head under the bonnet.
To be fair, that was pretty much the case with most cars of that era.
The old Viva was cheap, cheerful, stylish for its time and cheap to run. It had a top speed of around 80mph and had an interior those Spartans would have been proud of. Vauxhall also sold over a million of them.
The new model is cheap, cheerful, very stylish and cheap to run. It is faster than the original and is a quantum leap ahead in terms of quality and reliability.
Starting at just under £8,000 the one-litre three-cylinder engine delivers outstanding economy and low CO2 emissions if not fantastic performance. It is also well equipped, throwing the gauntlet down to city car rivals with the all round package.
Standard kit on the entry-level SE includes electric front windows, heated door mirror, central locking and six airbags.
Other goodies which you would normally find on a more expensive car include cruise control with speed limiter, lane departure warning and hill start assist.
The SL model driven here is nearer £9,500, but it is worth mentioning the array of kit that comes with it, which adding to standard kit includes: electronic climate control, USB audio connection, Bluetooth music streaming and mobile phone portal, six speakers, leather-covered steering wheel, dark-tinted rear windows and those 15-inch alloy wheels.
There is an alarm and engine deadlock immobiliser, multi-function trip computer, stereo radio with aux-in, steering wheel mounted audio controls, tiltable steering column.
In addition to the airbags, there is ABS and stability programme with traction control, plus lane departure warning and ISOFIX child seat restraint system for outer rear seats.
Also available on all models is is the IntelliLink multimedia system, which features smartphone connectivity for Android and iOS, and puts music, photos, videos and maps onto a personal seven inch colour touch screen right on the dash.
It looks good, as most city cars do these days, with sculpted sharp lines, daytime running lights and front fog lights with cornering function, it look as sort of cut down version of bigger siblings.
Vauxhall say it is designed for modern, everyday life with room for up to five people. That would be five with a tight squeeze and not too comfortable.
It has four doors to make access easy enough and three children would fit reasonably comfortably in the back, but you would not want more than two adults for anything other than a very short journey.
The boot space will accommodate a couple of shopping bags and bit more, but extra room is created with the 60/40 split-folding seat.
The design of the wheel in each corner and four large doors gives the interior a feeling of roominess, despite its limited size. The fit and finish is good, if not luxurious, while all controls feel robust, logical and easy to use.
The two front seats are comfortable and adjustable.
On the road there is a pleasant thrum from the three cylinder 75ps engine. Performance is perky which is fine for zipping around town, but it can struggle on the motorway, despite having a top speed of over 100mph.
The fuel gauge took a while to move, but the claimed 62-odd miles to the gallon seemed wide of the mark, however with some motorway driving, that was not surprising.
The ride is comfortable, while the steering can be electronically adjusted for town driving and parking in town spaces.
It's a fun car to drive that is also practical and looks pretty good.
Vauxhall Viva 1.0 SL
Mechanical: 75ps, 999cc, 3cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via five-speed gearbox
Max Speed: 106mph
0-62mph: 13.1 seconds
Combined MPG: 62.8
Insurance Group: 4
C02 emissions: 104g/km
Bik rating: 15%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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