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Vauxhall Viva 2021 review

The Viva is a compact city car that was sold between 2015 and 2019

£5,883
Average price
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1
Out of 5

Pros

  • Cheap to run
  • Affordable used buy
  • Plenty of rear space

Cons

  • Small boot
  • Not very refined at higher speeds
  • Uninspiring interior
  • MPG

    0 - 0

  • CO2

    0 - 0 g/km

Model review

To many, the Vauxhall Viva will not be remembered as the small city car you see here, but rather a small family saloon that was sold between 1963 and 1979, of which more than 1.5 million were produced at the brand’s still-running plant in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. 

But in 2015 the Viva nameplate was revived for a new city car that would serve as the brand’s entry-level model, bringing lower running costs to the Vauxhall range. 

Despite being just 3.68m-long, the firm promised it would offer enough room for five people, while featuring a new 1.0-litre petrol engine that was designed to be used in the Viva from the start. 

Despite its small size, though, the Viva would be available with plenty of the tech you’d find on the brand’s more expensive models, including an IntelliLink touchscreen system, heated steering wheel and lane departure warning. 

Latest model

The only real addition to the Viva range during the model’s lifetime was the introduction of a ‘Rocks’ model. 

Following on from the Adam supermini, which features the same treatment, this model introduced SUV-like styling to this city car – thanks to its increased ride height, black plastic cladding and roof bars, and injected some extra visual appeal to the range. 

Despite Vauxhall’s best efforts, though, the Viva was discontinued at the start of 2019, along with a number of models, as the brand culled back its range to focus on the more best-selling cars.

Value for money

The Viva has always delivered where value for money is concerned, as even when new, models were available for under £8,000. 

Today, though, it’s a brilliant used buy, with models available for as little as £3,500, though this will buy a higher-mileage example. Increase your budget to around £4,500 to get something with fewer miles on the clock. As Rocks models came later in the Viva’s model run, you’ll need to spend around £6,750 to get one of these at the time of writing. 

Standard kit is relatively generous, though, and includes a trip computer, front fog lights  and cruise control to name but a few features. 

Looks and image

The Viva offers a pretty middle-of-the-road design. It’s not going to make heads swivel or cause controversy, but it has neat proportions and a chrome grille that looks the part on all versions. It’s worth noting that standard SE models miss out on alloy wheels, so you’ll need an SL to get these. The most appealing of the Viva range, though, is the Rocks. With its chunky plastic cladding, machined alloy wheels and roof bars, it successfully brings a bit of rugged flair to this city car. 

The interior carries over parts from the Corsa, including much of the switchgear and interior interface. While it’s a touch dull and uninspiring, it’s hard to complain in this respect given the Viva’s affordable pricing. If you like your technology, it’s worth looking out for models fitted with the IntelliLink media system, which brings satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Though, as this was a £395 option on all versions, not many cars you’ll see for sale will have it. 

Behind the wheel, the Viva ticks the right boxes for a city car. It’s best kept in an urban environment, where the engines feel nippy and the ride is surprisingly comfortable, with Vauxhall tweaking its steering and suspension specifically for UK roads. It’s not much fun to drive, though, while at higher speeds the Viva isn’t especially refined. 

Space and practicality

Vauxhall made a big deal about the Viva being able to seat five adults with ease, and for such a small car, the rear space is seriously impressive, with plenty of headroom and legroom.

The firm clearly prioritised this over boot space, though, as at 206 litres, it’s small even by class standards. You do get 60:40 folding rear seats, though, and with them laid flat, boot space increases to 1,013 litres. 

Engines 

Just a single engine option is available on the Viva – a naturally-aspirated 1.0-litte petrol engine option producing 72bhp and 95Nm of torque. 

It’s not what you’d call quick, but with a 0-60mph time of 13.1 seconds it’s ideal for around town, while able to reach a top speed of 106mph. 

Most versions you’ll see for sale will feature a five-speed manual gearbox, though an ‘Easytronic’ automatic transmission was also available 

Running costs

Thanks to compact engines, the Viva should prove to be very affordable to run. 

The standard model claims to be able to return 62.8mpg, along with CO2 emissions of 104g/km. However, Vauxhall also offered an ‘EcoFlex’ model, which brought slight revisions to make it return 65.7mpg, while having CO2 emissions of 99g/km mean the model gets free road tax (provided it was registered before April 2017, when road tax changes were implemented). 

Low insurance groups ranging from three to five also mean the Viva could be ideal as a first car, while models should be affordable to service and repair – given many parts are shared with the popular Corsa

What to look out for

With a relatively simplistic design and underpinnings, not too much should go wrong with the Viva. However, there are a few things you should look out for – including excess oil use (check the dipstick for this). There have been isolated reports of clutches needing replacing early, so it’s important to check that these aren’t slipping as it could be a sign of a fault, which could be an expensive fix. 

Rivals

The city car market has no shortage of options on it, with key rivals for the Viva including the Peugeot 108, Toyota Aygo, Fiat Panda and Ford Ka+ – the latter also being available with a rugged ‘Active’ version that offers similar traits to the Viva Rocks

The best options in this class, though, are the Skoda Citigo, Hyundai i10 and Kia Picanto. 

Depreciation

Vauxhalls don’t have the best reputation for holding their value well, and the Viva is no exception. With models available at less than half what they cost four years ago, the model does lose money quite heavily. However, given that the newer models should have had that initial depreciation hit, it makes the Viva a great used buy. 

Trims Explained

Three trim levels are available on the Viva – SE, SL and Rocks. Equipment highlights and prices are as follows.

SE

Despite its low price, the Viva comes with plenty of standard kit. Features include daytime running wheels, 15-inch wheels, front fog lights and a trip computer. It also comes with cruise control, lane departure warning, an alarm, electric front windows, trip computer and electric and heated door mirrors.

From £3,500

SL

More upmarket SL models bring 15-inch alloy wheels, tinted rear windows and a leather steering wheel. You also get climate control, Bluetooth and USB connection, along with additional speakers.

From £4,000

Rocks

At the top of the range, the Viva Rocks brings predominantly style upgrades. These include 15-inch bi-colour alloy wheels, silver roof rails, black plastic cladding and chunkier-looking bumpers.

From £6,750

Summary

  1. On sale between 2015 and 2019
  2. Affordable used prices
  3. Cheap running costs
  4. Rear space is impressive for a city car
  5. Comfortable…
  6. Though not much fun to drive
  7. Boot is quite small
  8. Rugged-looking ‘Rocks’ model available
  9. Plenty of standard kit
  10. An appealing city car where comfort and value are priorities

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