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The Vauxhall Viva is a city runabout that relies on substance to make sales. Is this a risky strategy? Not really. When it comes to the smallest cars, the most practical models make the biggest numbers and this 1.0-litre five-door hatch looks to have all the right objective figures sewn up.
The Viva has been built around Vauxhall's latest 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine. In this guise, it makes 73PS worth of power (or 75PS in Easytronic auto form), which is probably about adequate for a citycar. More engines may be announced in time, but the powerplant requirements for a small city scoot like this are usually quite simple. Models of this sort don't cover enough miles for a diesel engine to be worth fitting and lighter is better if you want the sort of jinky manoeuvrability delivered by the best urban runabouts. This ECOTEC 1.0-litre engine drives the front wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox and the suspension and steering has been optimised for comfort on the sort of pock-marked streets that typify most British cities. Like its bigger brother, the Adam, the Viva gets a 'City' mode that lightens the steering even further to help take the effort out of parking. At the top of the range, there's a Viva Rocks model with suspension raised by 18mm but the driving dynamics are no different.
Vauxhall's previous citycar offering, the Agila, was a model that never really got the credit it deserved, but the Viva has performed much better. The styling is neat and assured, with none of the overtly cutesy flourishes that make certain small cars very gender specific. The Viva could well appeal to lads as well as lasses, with its purposeful front end and signature Z-slash that runs through the door handles in the side swage line, plus there are some neat alloy wheel designs. It's available in ten exterior paint colours with a variety of 14- to 16-inch wheel choices. Designed by Mark Adams' team in Europe, the Viva is built at GM Korea's plant in Changwon and is a sister car to the new generation Chevrolet Spark model that Britain doesn't get. At the top of the range, there's an SUV-style Viva Rocks variant with raised ride height and bespoke bumpers. The interior looks well built and maturity is again a dominating theme. There's a signal lack of over-design, with a simple but classy two-dial instrument cluster, plenty of headroom, a chunky steering wheel and clearly legible minor controls. If you'd prefer something a bit more outre and personalised, then it's simple to step up to the brand's trendier ADAM model, though you'd need a bigger budget to do that. At 3,700mm long, the Viva is marginally longer than a Fiat 500 but has space for five inside (just!) due to a wheelbase that's fully 100mm longer than that of a Peugeot 108.
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