Vauxhall Viva (2015 – 2019) Review

Vauxhall Viva (2015 – 2019) At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
The Viva 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.

+Functional and affordable city car, easy to park, well-equipped as standard, flat folding rear seats.

-No fun to drive at speed, underpowered for motorway, interior dull and uninspiring.

Insurance Group 3
On average it achieves 91% of the official MPG figure

The Vauxhall Viva is the brand’s city car contender, designed to compete with popular choices such as the Toyota Aygo, Volkswagen Up, Skoda Citigo and Hyundai i10. Reviving a name that had been long absent from the Vauxhall line up, the Viva shared a great deal with the similarly-discontinued Chevrolet Spark. As with many of its rivals the emphasis is on low running costs, ease of driving in the city and maximising the amount of interior space from a small exterior footprint. It’s certainly cheap but quite short on charm - there are better options in this class.

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 under the old NEDC measurement.

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. 

On the positive side the cabin is practical and makes the most of its small footprint, with decent space for four adults and a light, airy cabin. 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. You may struggle if you need to carry big loads of people and luggage on a regular basis, but as an urban runaround the Viva should be big enough for your needs.

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. 

The Viva is more competent in respect of ride quality, with the suspension set up to be sensibly soft resulting in a good ability to soak up urban bumps. The downside is that the Viva isn’t particularly fun through the bends, although it is perfectly safe and secure it is unlikely to get you grinning on the way home.

Ask Honest John

Is the Vauxhall Viva a good buy as a small car?

"A few weeks ago I started looking at a Vauxhall Viva on the scrappage scheme. The Viva was about £11000 before £4000 scrappage, however after the bank holiday, there was then no mention of Viva scrappage on the website. We then discovered no mention of Viva. I used online chat to be told the following: "Unfortunately all the Vivas have sold. Vauxhall are no longer making the model either. We do have used ones but they're not available on scrappage". Have I had a lucky escape?"
Yes, Vauxhall is no longer selling the Viva in the UK. There are plenty of as-new pre-registered examples still available, though, provided you're not too fussed about spec - speak to your local dealer or search the classifieds for one. These won't be eligible for scrappage but there should still be some big savings to be had over list price. We'd also look at the Kia Picanto or Hyundai i10. Also consider a Suzuki Celerio, but this is being dropped too.
Answered by Andrew Brady

What should I look for on a pre-reg car?

"I have been offered Vauxhall Viva SE that was registered in July 2018 and has been in the dealer's compound ever since. Should I worry about rust and deterioration as well as the loss of six month's warranty time? How much discount should I expect from the new price? Should I go for a used Hyundai I10 instead or Kia Picanto instead?"
Check for rusty brake discs, flat-spotted tyres, condensation damage to the exhaust system and moisture in brake fluid. A lot depends on how old it was when first registered, so whether it sat there through last winter as well as this winter. Check the DOT dates on the tyre -. the first two figures are the week of the year they were made while the second two figures are the year of the decade they were made. But if it's £5k - £6k may be worth buying. A new Picanto or i10 will be closer to £10k .
Answered by Honest John

Which cars would you recommend for young drivers?

"Which cars would you recommend for young drivers?"
Low powered ones like the Vauxhall Viva, Ford Ka+, Suzuki Celerio, Kia Picanto, Hyundai i10, Volkswagen Up, SEAT Mii, Skoda Citigo, Toyota Aygo, Citroen C1, Peugeot 108 - all 1.0-litre except for the Ka+ which is 1.2.
Answered by Honest John

I need a small, easy to parallel park car - what do you recommend?

"I haven't driven in 20 years. Now I have moved to the Netherlands and need a small car that is small, easy to drive and easy to parallel park, mostly for the school run, but also so we can do some driving around the country. What do you recommend? "
A Dacia Sandero 1.0 is the cheapest new car in the UK and I guess it also is in Holland. It's a bit bigger than the likes of the Opel Karl (called Vauxhall Viva in UK), Suzuki Celerio, Citroen C1, Peugeot 108, Toyota Aygo, Volkswagen Up, Skoda Citigo, SEAT Mii, Hyundai i10 and Kia Picanto. Of these the new KIA Picanto 1.0 is the most fun to drive:
Answered by Honest John
More Questions

What does a Vauxhall Viva (2015 – 2019) cost?