FOR DRIVERS of a certain age, the thought of owning a Vauxhall Viva will send a shiver down the spine. Vauxhall’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 stayed 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 sorts of problem that afflicted its predecessor – uncontrollable corrosion and faulty brakes – but it does face stiff competition from the small cars of Fiat, Volkswagen, Skoda, Seat, Hyundai, Toyota, Citroën and Peugeot.
What is there to tempt drivers to Vauxhall’s new entry-level model? For starters, there’s seating for five, so whether you’re a student offering university 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 come in a five-door body style only.
Keeping drivers connected is a system Vauxhall calls IntelliLink, which takes care of all infotainment and allows Apple and Android smartphones to be connected seamlessly.
Then there’s the way it drives. Engineers are said to have tuned the Viva’s suspension and roadholding for comfort, and the steering has two settings, so it can be lightened for parking, so this is one small car that, after a long drive, shouldn’t leave drivers feeling as though they’ve emerged from a spin cycle.
The car will be powered by a new 74bhp three-cylinder 1-litre Ecotec petrol engine linked to a five-speed manual gearbox and should return nearly 70mpg.
2015 Vauxhall Viva specifications
- Price: from £7500
- Engine: 1 litre, 3 cylinders, petrol, 74bhp
- Transmission: 5-speed manual
- Fuel consumption: nearly 70mpg (estimated)
- CO2: less than 100g/km (estimated)
- On sale: spring