Vauxhall Viva (2015-2019) Review
The Vauxhall Viva is a city-friendly car with a good level of standard equipment
Strengths & weaknesses
- Good value
- Well equipped
- Cheap to run
- Weak performance
- Interior plastics feel cheap
- Only one engine choice
The original Vauxhall Viva was small, spacious and sold by the bucketload. More than 1.5 million customers bought one in the 1960s and 70s before the name disappeared … until 2015.
Vauxhall didn't just revived the name; it’s brought back the same recipe too, with a low-priced compact car that’s big on interior space. It’s 36cm - more than a foot - shorter than a Ford Fiesta from the same period, but can still seat five passengers relatively comfortably. It’ll even accommodate a 6-foot adult in the back, sitting behind another 6-foot adult in the front, although it’s a little like travelling on the London Underground during rush hour, with limited room for manoeuvre.
This does come at a cost, which you realise when you open the bootlid: the meagre 206 litres of space is substantially down on the 251 litres you’ll find in the Up, Citigo and Mii, and further behind the Suzuki Celerio’s 254 litre boot. It’s not quite a match for them from behind the wheel, however. The Up, Citigo and Mii have a less-cluttered interior made with plastics that don’t feel as thin and hard as the Vauxhall’s.
The Vauxhall Viva could be had for cheap, with discounts taking the car below £10,000 when new. Used car deals are very affordable and represent a good saving, too, meaning cars in higher trims can be had for not much more than entry-level models.
In common with many other city cars, air-conditioning is optional on entry-level models. Unusually, it’s included along with sat-nav on all other Vivas, except the rugged-looking Viva Rocks, which is designed to look tough, but is no more capable in a muddy field than the standard car.
There’s just one engine in the Viva range – a 1.0-litre petrol unit with 74 horsepower. It’s economical with real-world fuel economy of more than 45mpg. Performance is nippy around town but only adequate on open roads, especially when fully laden. If you regularly drive on motorways, then you’re better off with the more powerful version of the Hyundai i10, which accelerates faster without the need for as much revving as the Viva, making it easier to slot into gaps in the traffic.
The view out of the Viva is clear, without too much obstruction. Underway, the car is stable, but bobbles along cracked and bumpy roads, with small bobs and dips making it less settled than the best in class.
City cars like the Viva rarely get the highest marks in safety tests due to their size and the lack of advanced safety equipment - such as automatic emergency braking - as standard, which can make prices uncompetitive. The Viva is no exception and received an average score of three stars out of five when tested by Euro NCAP in 2017. It comes with two sets of Isofix mounts in the back for securely attaching child seats.
|3 years / 60,000 miles
|Tax (min to max)
|From A (free) to B (£0 in first year and £20 thereafter)
Best Vauxhall Viva for...
Best for Economy – Vauxhall Viva SE ecoFLEX 1.0i 75PS 5dr hatchback
The addition of efficient tyres and extra aerodynamic bodywork ensure the engine avoids tax, saving you money every year.
Best for Families – Vauxhall Viva SE 1.0i 75PS 5dr hatchback
The basic car came in at an extremely reasonable £8,395, but still boasted electric front windows, remote central locking and cruise control.
One to Avoid – Vauxhall Viva 1.0i 75PS Easytronic 5dr hatchback
The slow-shifting automatic gearbox just doesn't compliment the already lethargic engine in this package. Stick with the manual for the most engaging drive.
- 2015 The modern version of the Vauxhall Viva goes on sale
Understanding Vauxhall Viva names
Trim level SE
There are three trims in total (SE, SE ecoFLEX and SL). Each higher level means more equipment and an inflated price.
Engine 1.0i 75PS
Only one engine is available and that's a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol. The horsepower is shown, which can also be written as PS. EcoFLEX models get reduced CO2 figures and an improved MPG figure thanks to added spoilers and ultra-low rolling resistance tyres.
Gearbox 5-speed manual
5-speed shows that the car has five gears. A five-speed automatic transmission is also available and this is labelled Easytronic.
Vauxhall Viva Engines
Petrol: 1.0i 75PS
The fact that Vauxhall only offers one engine in the line-up is a good indication of its intended uses. The 75hp engine is nippy around town and offers good pace off the lights but it isn't particularly comfortable at motorway speeds.
Those looking to reduce fuel and tax bills should look towards the ecoFlex models, which cleverly use ultra-low rolling resistance tyres and some additional body addenda to improve the vehicle's overall aerodynamics in order to dip below the coveted 100g/km CO2 mark.
A lack of diesel options will likely put off some buyers but considering the Viva has been designed for short hops around town, the small petrol offered here is the perfect companion. Not only do diesel drivers have to rack up the miles to reap the benefits of the black pumps, but most modern diesels also use a diesel particulate filter (DPF), which traps dangerous particles in the exhaust.
Every now and again these particles must be burnt off to prevent filter blockage and the only way to do this is to drive at motorway speeds for at least 20-miles so the filter gets hot enough to perform properly. Not suitable if regular short journeys are on the cards.
0 - 62mph
1.0i 75PS ecoFLEX
Vauxhall Viva Trims
SE, SE ecoFLEX and SL
SE models kick off the range and highlights include: Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), tyre pressure monitoring system, lane departure warning, ISOFIX child seat restraint system for outer rear seats, cruise control, a Bluetooth enabled stereo with aux-in and USB compatibility and steering wheel mounted audio controls.
Take note that SE models did not come with air-conditioning as standard, although many buyers will have paid extra to have it fitted. This will be reflected with A/C in its name.
SL models received Vauxhall's OnStar service, electronic climate control, two-tone grey facia, a leather-covered steering wheel, dark-tinted rear windows and attractive 15-inch alloy wheels.
Other optional extras include parking sensors, an electrically operated glass sunroof and a winter pack with heated front seats and a heated steering wheel, so be careful when browsing the listings if you want these. Electrically adjustable rear windows were also an extra, though these were restricted to SL models.
Vauxhall Viva Reliability and warranty
The Vauxhall Viva hasn't been around long enough to place in the Auto Express Driver Power customer-satisfaction survey but the brand as a whole tends to place a long way behind its rivals in terms of build quality, reliability and running costs. For comparison, the Hyundai i10, which is considered the Viva's hottest rival, placed an impressive third overall in our 2015 Driver Power Survey.
Warranty-wise, it’s a fairly standard three years or 60,000 miles of cover – whichever runs out first. Unfortunately, it's not as extensive as Hyundai's impressive five warranty, which is worth considering if you plan to keep the car for any length of time.