Road test: Vauxhall Viva

Posted on August 21st, 2015 by James Luckhurst

The Vauxhall Viva is a pleasingly simple and simply pleasing small car.

Road test: Vauxhall Viva

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What is it?

The Viva is Vauxhall’s replacement for the Agila and is based on the new Corsa, so it has a good start in life. It’s also very keenly priced.

How safe is it?

The Viva has not been tested by Euro NCAP, but the Corsa on which it’s based has been. The Corsa scored four out of five overall.

Who should buy one?

Vauxhall knows most Viva customers will be older customers looking for a simple, safe and affordable car. But it should also appeal as a starter car or as a second car for families.

Road test by Al Suttie published 21 August 2015



Road test: Vauxhall Viva

Whichever way you configure the Viva, it comes with a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine. It gives 74bhp and, in Ecoflex spec, emits 99g/km of carbon dioxide while delivering 65.7mpg average economy. The non-Ecoflex versions manage 62.8mpg and 104g/km of CO2 emissions, so neither is going to break the bank on running costs.
Neither is the Viva going to break any records for performance, though the small engine happily chums along on any trip. It’s a completely unassuming engine, which is very in keeping with the general demeanour of the Viva, so it pulls reasonably from low revs, keeps quiet in the mid-range where it spends most of its time and remains refined when pressed harder.

From rest to 62mph takes 13.1 seconds, which is a shade quicker than a comparable Suzuki Celerio or Volkswagen Up, so the Viva is not left struggling in the cut and thrust of traffic. You do need to work the engine quite hard to get up to motorway speeds, though, and some road noise becomes audible at higher speeds.

Making the most of the engine is made easier thanks to a five-speed manual gearbox that has a light, clearly defined shift action. Again, it’s entirely in keeping with the nature of the Viva’s simple, no-nonsense approach and is complemented by a light clutch pedal. Vauxhall will add an automatic transmission from the start of 2016.
As for the rest of the Viva’s driving manners, the steering is also light and, combined with the compact exterior dimensions, the Viva is easy to park. It doesn’t quite have the fun of the Corsa or Adam with which it shares it underpinnings when it comes to corners as the Viva is set-up more for comfort.

This is no bad thing as the Viva has a surprisingly large-car feel to the way it deals with dips and chips in the road surface. Vauxhall has set up the car specifically for the UK and it shows as the Viva is easily on a par with the VW Up for comfort.

Road test: Vauxhall Viva

It may be small (in fact it’s well under four metres long), but Vauxhall has pushed the body sides of the Viva as far to its edges as possible to create a very spacious cabin for this size of car. The driver is afforded plenty of space and a good driving position, even if the steering wheel does not adjust for reach. The dash is clear and simple in its design, and the controls have a pleasingly solid feel that belies the Viva’s cost-effective pricing.
Rear-seat passengers are also treated to plenty of space and the Viva is perfectly capable of carrying four adults in complete comfort. There’s even enough room for three children to sit happily on the rear bench.
The boot is not quite so generous and its 208-litre capacity falls 43-litres short of a VW Up’s. Still, it’s enough for most needs and the rear seats can be folded forward should more space be required.

Road test: Vauxhall Viva

Vauxhall provides six airbags as standard and there is also ESP stability control and a tyre pressure monitoring system. That’s decent kit for a small, affordable car, but what you don’t expect to be included is a lane-keeping assist system that is fitted to all Vivas. That’s the kind of big-car safety kit you usually find on much more expensive models, so it’s a definite plus for a city car like the Viva.

Road test: Vauxhall Viva

There are only two trims offered for the Vauxhall Viva, comprising SE and SL. The SE comes with cruise control, lane departure warning, six airbags and front fog lights with cornering function as standard. Adding air conditioning to the SE will contribute another £495 to the final bill. The SL has climate control as standard, as well as alloy wheels and Bluetooth hands-free connection. Vauxhall expects 60 per cent of Viva customers to stick with the SE trim.


Road test: Vauxhall Viva

With emissions of 99g/km for the Ecoflex versions and 104g/km for all other Vivas, the Vauxhall is clean without being anywhere near class-leading. It’s the same story with fuel economy of 65.7mpg for the Ecoflex and 62.8mpg for other Vivas. Where the Viva does give a good account of itself is a starting price from £7995 that includes lane departure warning on all models. That’s very competitive with key rivals.


The Vauxhall Viva is a pleasingly simple and simply pleasing small car.

Price: £8490
Performance: 0-60mph in 13.1 seconds
Economy: 65.7mpg combined
Insurance: Group 4E
Tax: Band B (£0)

Figures for the 1.0 SE a/c.