2017 Vauxhall Viva Review

The Vauxhall Viva isn’t the retro flashback you might expect from its name. It is, however, an affordable and practical city car. But is it good enough to compete in a segment that offers the Volkswagen Up and Toyota Aygo?

Did you know? The original Viva was the Vauxhall’s first small post-war car, launched in 1963 as a rival to the Morris Minor.

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Verdict: (5.7/10)
The Vauxhall Viva is a pretty uninspiring car. Rivals are better in most areas – and it’s not as if the Viva is competitively priced to compensate for its inadequacies. You might be able to negotiate a good deal, though, and the Viva is more spacious than most city cars. It’s built with a core audience in mind, one that values practicality within a compact package more than stylish looks and image. This isn’t a huge market by any means, but buyers are loyal and rate it highly, even if most people buy a Seat or Kia instead.
Design & Exterior
Interior & Comfort
Technology & Connectivity
Performance & Handling
Safety Features
Spec & Trim Levels
Running Costs & Fuel Economy
We Like
Interior is OK
Cheap to run
We Don’t Like
Pricey to buy
Uninspiring looks
Below-par in most areas

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Design & Exterior: (4/10)
When Vauxhall revealed that it was planning to revive the Viva name back in 2014, many expected a cute city runaround with retro looks to rival the Fiat 500. What they got was a blue-rinse special with dumpy looks and few redeeming features to tempt buyers away from the Volkswagen Up or Toyota Aygo.
To make the Viva more desirable to youthful types would have stolen sales from the (admittedly slow-selling) Vauxhall Adam. So Vauxhall’s gone with a basic, utilitarian look – similar to the Suzuki Celerio and conventional (bland) car-hire specials like the Chevrolet Spark (with which it shares a platform) and Kia Picanto.
There’s no shortage of trendy city cars these days, and the Vauxhall Viva really isn’t one. It’s quite dull to look at, and more likely to attract the older generation than young Fiat 500 buyers. It’s inoffensive, though, and its high roofline, combined with wheels pushed to the furthest corners, results in a roomy car for its compact dimensions.

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Interior & Comfort: (6/10)
Inside the Viva, it’s business as usual for Vauxhall. Anyone who’s driven the latest Corsa will find it feels familiar. The dials, for example, are almost identical, as are the radio controls, three-spoke steering wheel and splashes of gloss black plastic. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The Corsa is a more expensive car than the Viva, after all. And at least some effort has gone into brightening up the interior of Vauxhall’s cheapest car. It’s not exciting, though, and buyers keen to add a touch of personalisation would be better looking elsewhere.
The Viva’s boxy shape means it scores pretty highly for practicality. Headroom is good for taller passengers (even in the rear), and those in the back won’t complain too much about legroom. There are three proper seatbelts across the rear bench, which is more than most city cars can muster. Not that we’d recommend transporting three fully-grown passengers in the back for longer journeys.
Boot space

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Technology & Connectivity: (6/10)
All Viva models come with a trip computer, cruise control and Bluetooth connectivity. None of these is particularly exciting (are you noticing a theme here?) but they do help make the Viva more appealing to drive every day.
If you’re hot on tech, you’ll want the lb435 IntelliLink infotainment system, which includes a seven-inch touchscreen with DAB radio, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. It strikes us as a worthwhile option unless you’re after the most basic of city runabouts – especially as you’ll probably get a chunk of its value back at resale time.
The top-spec Viva SL comes with Vauxhall’s OnStar system as standard (lb405 on lesser models). This is a personal assistant that allows you to seek help from a Vauxhall adviser at the touch of a button – whether you’ve been in a crash and need assistance or are simply searching for the nearest fast-food restaurant. Although a handy feature, you may question whether it’s worth the lb89.50 annual subscription charge after your free 12-month trial is over.

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Performance & Handling: (5/10)
There’s only one engine available in the Viva: a 1.0-litre three-pot producing 75hp. Around town it’s nippy enough, but it soon feels out of its depth on open roads. We reckon the Viva could be a bit of a hoot if fitted with the Corsa’s 1.0-litre turbo engine, but then that’s not what this car is really about…
The Viva’s compact dimensions, combined with excellent visibility, mean it’s really easy to thread through city streets. Its light steering and clutch will appeal to older buyers, and the Viva does a good job of hiding any thruminess normally associated with three-cylinder engines.
Recommended engine: 1.0 manual
13.1 seconds
Fuel economy

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Safety Features: (6/10)
When Euro NCAP tested the Vauxhall Viva in 2015, the safety experts awarded a decent four out of five stars. The Viva was criticised for its lack of an autonomous emergency braking system (although that’s not unusual in this segment), while NCAP was also concerned that the driver’s head might hit the steering wheel in a crash because the airbag didn’t inflate sufficiently.
It did, however, praise the Viva for its optional lane-departure warning system and driver-set speed limiter. Electronic stability control is standard across the range, as is a tyre-pressure monitoring system, six airbags and Isofix child-seat mounting points in the rear.

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Specs and Trim Levels: (6/10)
As standard, the Vauxhall Viva is available in two unusual hues: Pastel or Limelight Green (the latter almost looks yellow to us). An additional lb285 buys ‘Brilliant’ finishes such as Absolute Red or Summit White, while a choice of metallic colours are available for lb555. These range from an odd Mushroom colour to the bright Sparkling Blue.
While there’s a good range of hues to inject some personality into your Viva, there are no customisation options – such as decal kits or a contrasting roof.
Trim Levels
There are just three trim levels available on the Viva. The entry-level SE offers Bluetooth, cruise control and 15-inch steel wheels. Moving up to the SE A/C adds – you guessed it – air-conditioning, while the top-spec SL features tinted windows, climate control and 15-inch alloys.
Size and Dimensions
The Vauxhall Viva is one of the bigger choices in the city car segment, which contributes to good practicality. It’s narrow, though, at less than 1.6 metres. This might help those who need to fit into a tight garage or parking space.
3,675 mm
1,595 mm
1,485 mm
Max towing weight without brake

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Running Costs & Fuel Economy: (6/10)
In standard 1.0-litre manual gearbox guise, the Viva returns a combined 62.8mpg and emits 104g/km CO2. Opt for the Easytronic automatic gearbox and fuel economy remains the same, while its CO2 output drops to 103g/km. New road tax rules being introduced in April mean all Vivas registered after April 1 will cost lb140 for the first year and lb130 for following years.
Vauxhall used to offer an Ecoflex pack, which added low-rolling-resistance tyres, along with the removal of air-con to reduce CO2 emissions down to 99g/km and improve fuel economy to 65.7mpg. If you’re looking on the used market, consider whether you’re happy to forgo air-conditioning in exchange for free road tax. The new rules would have meant the Ecoflex would cost the same as other models to tax, which might explain why it’s been dropped.
Reliability and servicing
Vauxhall servicing costs are never going to break the bank, and the Viva’s 20,000-mile service interval is amongst the best in its class. Although it’s still relatively new (the earliest examples are just two years old), we can’t foresee the Viva being a problematic car to own.
12 months or 20,000 miles – lb149
24 months or 40,000 miles – lb249

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Pricing: (6/10)
The entry-level Vauxhall Viva SE starts at lb9,175, making it marginally more expensive than the cheapest Volkswagen Up, Toyota Aygo and Hyundai i10 – and more than lb2,000 pricer than the cheap and cheerful Suzuki Celerio. Equipment levels are decent, though, and Vauxhall regularly promotes tempting offers and finance deals.

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Cost Conscious
Viva SE – the entry-level Viva offers enough kit to appease the budget-conscious, and there are some tempting offers available.
First Time Driver
Viva SL – go for the top-spec model and opt for the IntelliLink infotainment system for a smart city car that undercuts the Adam and Corsa.
New Parents
Viva SE A/C – with Isofix points as standard and a decent safety rating, the Viva makes a sensible runaround for new parents on a budget.
Suzuki Celerio
Like the Viva, it’s not particularly exciting, but the Suzuki is cheap to buy and run and ought to be reliable.
Volkswagen Up
Along with the closely-related Seat Mii and Skoda Citigo, the VW Up is one of the trendiest (and best) city cars you can buy.
Toyota Aygo
The Aygo isn’t as practical as the Viva, but it offers more customisation options and will be more appealing for younger buyers.
Fiat 500
On paper, the Fiat 500 is one of the least competitive cars in its segment, but its retro styling makes it a desirable purchase for many.
Ford Ka+
Ford axed the Ka and replaced it with the slightly bigger Ka+ last year. Like the Viva, the Ka+ is a likeable and practical car.
What others say
Auto Express
“Smart styling, a generous kit list and low running costs count in the Vauxhall Viva’s favour.”
“As a city car, the Viva follows closely in the wake of existing class leaders, but does nothing to suggest it ought to be ranked above them.”


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