Review: Vauxhall Viva Rocks (2017)


Easy to drive. Body cladding means you can bump into things without causing much damage. Flat folding rear seats.

Why would you buy one over a standard Viva? Double folded rear seats force the front seats forward, leaving little room for the driver.

Vauxhall Viva Rocks (2017): At A Glance

If all you want in a car is something to get you from A to B, you're probably the buyer Vauxhall has in mind for its Viva city car. It's not glamorous, fast, well-equipped or even particularly practical. It's affordable, though, in terms of running costs and purchase price - and it's much better than getting the bus.

All of these reasons are why the average Viva buyer is aged over 50, probably a woman and likes things that are good value for money. But car brands can't resist any opportunity to attract a younger audience - which is why Vauxhall's given its sensible little Viva the SUV treatment.

No, the Vauxhall Viva Rocks isn't a proper SUV by any stretch of the imagination. It's not a four-wheel-drive and you could barely call it a crossover. The ride height's been raised by 18mm and extra body cladding has been fitted to prevent unsightly dents and scrapes should you venture into the wild. Or an Asda car park.

The interior isn't much different to the standard Viva. It's not as attractive as the Corsa or Adam's, but it's functional. There's no fancy large infotainment display in the centre of the dash, but there is a simple FM radio with Bluetooth. Old-fashioned yet easy-to-reach dials let you adjust the temperature of the air conditioning, while a steering wheel poached from the Corsa feels surprisingly meaty and looks at odds with the rest of the cabin.

The Vauxhall Viva Rocks' boxy dimensions means there's a decent amount of headroom and fully-grown passengers can fit in the rear without too much grumpiness. It's quite narrow, though, meaning you might nudge shoulders with your passengers.

The Viva Rocks is very easy to drive. The clutch is light and the five-speed manual gearbox is fine if not ultra precise. Visibility is good so darting in and out of spaces around town is a piece of cake. Out of town, the 75PS engine requires working hard to get up to speed and doing so results in a lot of noise intruding into the cabin.

The problem with the Viva Rocks is that, for the money, you could buy a much better equipped standard Viva. No one's going to believe the Viva Rocks is a desirable crossover and you'd be hard pushed to notice any nuances in the way it drives compared to the standard model. The question this raises is, what's the point?

Vauxhall Viva Rocks 2017 Road Test

What does a Vauxhall Viva Rocks (2017) cost?

Vauxhall Viva Rocks (2017): What's It Like Inside?

Length 3675 mm
Width 1876 mm
Height 1476 mm
Wheelbase 2385 mm

Full specifications

The Viva Rocks' interior feels a bit like a city car's interior of yesteryear. Buying a manufacturer's entry-level car used to mean you got cheap plastics, a basic but functional cabin and little in the way of pizzazz. But cars like the Volkswagen Up, Hyundai i10 and Toyota Aygo means buyers have higher expectations today.

The dashboard looks pretty drab and there's little money been spent making anything feel nice to touch. You'll have to spend £435 if you want a seven-inch colour touchscreen display with DAB radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto - a must-have, in our view, although not everyone will see the appeal. Navigation is another £500 on top of that.

A few of the nicer aspects of the Viva Rocks' interior are clearly parts that have been nicked from other cars in Vauxhall's range. The gear lever, for example, will look familiar to anyone who's driven an Astra, while the slightly-too-large steering wheel is obviously from a Corsa.

Still, space is good. Headroom is generous in the front and rear, while rear doors help access into the rear. The boot's not massive, but it will carry your shopping or a few overnight bags if required. There's a bit of a lip which can get in the way of loading heavy items, but at least the cladding of the Viva Rocks means you'll be less worried about causing scratches. Oh, and the rear seats drop should you need to carry bulkier items.

Standard equipment:

Vauxhall Viva Rocks features Anthracite bumpers and side sills with chrome-effect insets, chrome-effect door sill covers, chrome-effect front grille bar, body-colour rear roof spoiler, 15-inch bi-colour alloy wheels, emergency tyre inflation kit, 60/40 split folding rear seats, six-way adjustable front seats, cruise control with speed limiter, daytime running lights, front fog lights, silver-effect roof rails, body-colour door mirrors, tyre pressure monitoring system, Bluetooth radio, air conditioning, electrically operated front windows, leather-covered steering wheel, multi-function trip computer, tiltable steering column, speed-sensitive power-assisted steering with City mode, Isofix points and six airbags.

Child seats that fit a Vauxhall Viva Rocks (2017)

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.

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What's the Vauxhall Viva Rocks (2017) like to drive?

An advantage of the Viva Rocks not being a proper crossover is that it's easier to drive than a proper crossover. Visibility's better than the likes of the Nissan Juke while a tight turning circle and tiny dimensions mean you'll never feel intimidated by its size.

If you try to fit through a narrower gap than you should, plastic body cladding should save your bodywork. Even hopping up the most aggressive kerbs is unlikely to cause expensive damage thanks to plastic sill protectors. So that's good.

There's just one engine available - a 1.0-litre 73PS naturally-aspirated petrol unit paired with a five-speed manual gearbox. The result is adequate performance, but little more. Even around town it needs a few revs to get moving, but that's par for the course with low-powered city cars.

Once you've left suburbia and passed the national speed limit signs, the Viva takes a little effort to get up to speed. Hills require dropping down a gear and you'll have to cling onto revs if you want to reach the dizzy heights of 70mph. It will get there, eventually, but wind and road noise will remind you that you're in a city car. We're probably being a trifle melodramatic here, but rivals such as the Hyundai i10 boast a big car feel that the Viva Rocks just doesn't have.

The standard Viva rides well and that's true for the Viva Rocks, too. The extra 18mm of ride height might make it less crashy over potholes, but you'd be hard-pushed to tell the difference.

Fling it around corners and you'll sense a fair bit of body roll but, again, only marginally more than a standard Viva. The steering's light, which is an advantage when parking, but it provides little confidence at higher speeds. If you want to make the steering even lighter, there's a City button, but this seems little more than a gimmick.

A disappointing aspect of the Viva Rocks is its lack of off road ability. Few buyers will want to traipse across a muddy field in a small city car, but four-wheel-drive could help justify the higher purchase price over a standard Viva.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.0i 55 mpg 13.9 s 104–106 g/km

Real MPG average for a Vauxhall Viva Rocks (2017)

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.

Average performance


Real MPG

54–60 mpg

MPGs submitted


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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