FOR DRIVERS of a certain age the thought of owning a Vauxhall Viva will send a shiver down their spine. The company’s original affordable car was launched as the Swinging Sixties got into their stride and hip young things turned their back on conservatism, but the Viva felt like the square kid who’d stay at home as everyone else went to the party.
Now Vauxhall is bringing the name back, and the Viva you see here will go on sale in the spring, priced competitively from about £7,500. It is doubtful the new model will suffer from the sort of problems that afflicted its predecessor — rampant corrosion and faulty brakes, to name just two — but it does face stiff competition, with great small cars available from Fiat, Volkswagen, Skoda, Seat, Hyundai, Toyota, Citroën and Peugeot.
What is there to tempt young and old drivers alike to the most affordable vehicle in the Vauxhall range? Well, there’s seating for five, so whether you’re a student offering uni friends a lift home so they can have their washing done, or a senior member of society rounding up players for the bridge club, this promises to be one of the more accommodating small cars and will only come in a five-door body style.
Keeping drivers connected is a system Vauxhall calls IntelliLink, which takes care of all infotainment and allows Apple and Android smartphones to be wirelessly connected.
Then there’s the way the Viva drives. Engineers are said to have tuned its suspension and roadholding for comfort, and included two settings for the steering that allow it to be lightened when parking.
The car will have a new 1-litre 74bhp three-cylinder Ecotec petrol engine and a five-speed manual gearbox, and it should return nearly 70mpg.
2015 Vauxhall Viva specifications
Engine: 1-litre 3-cylinder 74bhp petrol
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Fuel: 70mpg (estimated)
CO2: Less than 100g/km (estimated)
Release date: On sale next spring
Lexus RC F
The “F” in RC F stands for Fuji (the volcano) and is a nod to the coupé’s 471bhp 5-litre V8 engine. The RC F can dart to 62mph in 4.5 seconds and motor on to a limited 168mph; power delivery to the rear wheels is regulated to prevent any embarrassing mishaps at slippery roundabouts. The first cars go on sale in February, but a challenger — the Mercedes-AMG C 63 — arrives in March.
On sale February
Price from £19,795
There was already plenty to like about the Mazda6, but as competition is fierce in its market sector, it has had a host of improvements to keep drivers interested. A subtle facelift, a cabin makeover and better soundproofing have rejuvenated the model, as have suspension modifications said to improve ride comfort. A number of new electronic driver aids complete the promising picture.
On sale January