Review: Vauxhall Viva (2015 – 2019)
Functional and affordable city car. Easy to park. Well-equipped as standard. All models get five-doors. Flat folding rear seats.
No fun to drive at speed. Underpowered and undergeared for motorway. Interior dull and uninspiring. Flat folded rear seats force front seats forward, leaving little room for the driver.
Vauxhall Viva (2015 – 2019): At A Glance
- New prices start from £10,175
- Insurance Group 3
- On average it achieves 91% of the official MPG figure
The original Vauxhall Viva was launched back in 1963 and proved an instant hit due to its good value and practical nature. Now, after more than half a century, GM has renamed its Opel Karl city car as the Vauxhall Viva for the UK, but remains true to its forbearer’s values by focusing on low running costs and practicality.
The Vauxhall Viva is at its best in an urban environment, with its diminutive size and three-cylinder engine making it easy to drive and park in town. The Viva is offered with just one engine - a 1.0-litre petrol with 75PS - which is economical and competent at low speeds, returning up to 65.7mpg and emitting less than 100g/km of CO2 when specified in ecoFlex trim.
All models are well-equipped and even basic models get cruise control, heated door mirrors, front fog lights, lane departure warning and hill start assist. However, air conditioning and Bluetooth aren’t included and the interior also feels rather cheap due to a thick layer of scratchy and dull plastics.
The range-topping SL models do add automatic air conditioning, a leather covered steering wheel and alloys, but even with these extras, the Viva rarely detracts from its low-cost appearance.
The cabin is practical though, with space for four adults and lots of airy comfort. The ride is also good, with soft suspension and low levels of road noise. Admittedly, the boot is on the small size - it's just 200 litres - but it's sufficient for the weekly shop or a couple of small suitcases.
One area that does let the Vauxhall Viva down is its lack of 'big car' feel at higher speeds. The Viva's 1.0-litre engine isn't bad, but it is painfully slow and will often leave the driver changing down a gear or two to cope with small hills. Both the Hyundai i10 and Skoda Citigo feel more composed above 50mph and are also more fun behind the wheel, with better mid-range acceleration.
It's difficult to deny the Viva's value though, especially when you factor its low running cost and impressive equipment levels. However, even considering that, the Viva still feels decidedly average, especially when you compare it to the current crop of city cars that focus on fun and style - both of which are desperately lacking here.
What does a Vauxhall Viva (2015 – 2019) cost?
Vauxhall Viva (2015 – 2019): What's It Like Inside?
- Boot space is 206–1013 litres
Despite its compact dimensions, the Viva is a comfortable fit for four adults, with lots of head and leg room in front and back. All models get five-doors as standard and the cabin feels well screwed together, with no worrying squeaks or rattles from the trim fixtures.
The dashboard layout is easy to understand too and all of the dials are displayed clearly, while the steering wheel gets useful controls for the audio and cruise control. However, there's no CD player or air conditioning and you have to pay extra for Bluetooth which is unusual.
While the interior is durable and sturdy, it is somewhat lacking in style or colour, with a thick layer of cheap, dark plastic covering almost everything in the cabin. Admittedly, there is lots of useful storage, but the Viva lacks the colourful fun factor that has been injected into so many modern city cars.
At 206 litres, the boot isn't the biggest in the city car class either - both the Hyundai i10 and Skoda Citigo get around 50 litres more - but the Viva does have enough space to store the weekly shop and a small cabin suitcase. The rear seats can be easily folded forward to provide a useful 1013 litres.
The Viva is offered in four trim levels - SE, SE Air Con, SE ecoFlex and SL - and all get tyre pressure monitoring, multi-function trip computer and electrically adjustable/heated door mirrors. SE Air Con adds automatic air conditioning, while SE ecoFlex trim gets front and rear spoilers and LED brake lights. SL models adds Bluetooth, tinted rear windows and 15-inch alloy wheels to the spec sheet.
SE is the entry trim and includes driver’s and front passenger’s airbags, front seat side-impact airbags, curtain airbags, tyre pressure monitoring system, lane departure warning, Isofix child seat restraint system for outer rear seats, speed-sensitive power-assisted steering with City Mode, electrically operated front windows, electrically adjustable/heated door mirrors, cruise control with speed limiter, multi-function trip computer, stereo radio with aux-in, steering wheel mounted audio controls, front fog lights with cornering function, emergency tyre inflation kit along with 15-inch steel wheels.
SE ecoFLEX models add front lip spoiler, extended rear spoiler plus ultra-low rolling resistance tyres.
SL includes electronic climate control, USB audio connection, Bluetooth music streaming, Bluetooth mobile phone portal, six speakers, two-tone grey facia, leather-covered steering wheel, dark-tinted rear windows and 15-inch alloy wheels.
Child seats that fit a Vauxhall Viva (2015 – 2019)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Vauxhall Viva (2015 – 2019) like to drive?
As you might expect from a city car, the Vauxhall Viva is at its best in the urban environment, with its nimble handling and comfortable ride working well with its low-powered three-cylinder petrol engine. Sadly the Viva lacks the fun and 'big car' feel of other small hatches at higher speeds, which does make it somewhat arduous when it comes to motorway speeds.
This means the Viva and its five-speed manual gearbox need to be worked hard to maintain momentum above 50mph, with regular downshifts required to tackle hills or slip roads. That said, the Viva will comfortably motor along at 70mph, with cruise control and lane departure warning both fitted as standard, but getting to the cruising speed is a bit of a task.
The Viva is a comfortable car to drive though, especially at lower speeds, with a good driving position and lots of all-round visibility. The engine is also well hushed, while general road noise is sufficiently supressed to let you cover long distances in relative peace and quiet.
As well as having a good suspension set-up, which absorbs all of the lumps and bumps in the road, the Viva is a decent car to drive along twisty B roads, with competent handling and minimal body roll in the corners. Admittedly, the steering is a little numb, but there's enough feedback and front-end grip to give the driver confidence to push along twisty country lanes with a little gusto.
In base trim, the Viva misses out on VED-exemption, emitting 104g/km of CO2 and returning a claimed 62.8mpg. However, Vauxhall does offer an ecoFlex upgrade, with aerodynamic tweaks and low rolling resistance tyres, which brings emissions down to 99g/km and improves economy to 65.7mpg.
This does not seem to affect the liveliness drivability of the car at low speeds, though at high speeds the overall gearing of 20mph per 1,000rpm could become a bit wearing on the motorway. Still, the Viva has more 'go' than a 70PS Vauxhall Adam 1.2.
|1.0i||55 mpg||13.9 s||104 g/km|
|1.0i Automatic||63 mpg||14.9 s||103 g/km|
|1.0i Ecoflex||66 mpg||13.9 s||99 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Vauxhall Viva (2015 – 2019)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
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Is the Vauxhall Viva a good buy as a small car?
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