Vauxhall Viva Review logo

Vauxhall Viva Review

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heycar review

      Launch year
      2014
      Body type
      City car
      Fuel type
      Petrol
heycar editorial team

Written by

heycar editorial team

00/10
heycar rating
“Competent but unexciting city car”

Best bits

  • Good specification across the range
  • Efficient and quiet petrol engine
  • Good ride quality

Not so great

  • Smaller than average boot space
  • Struggles at higher speeds
  • Little to distinguish it from the herd

Read by

Vauxhall Viva Front Side View

Overall verdict

Vauxhall Viva Driver's Seat

On the inside

Vauxhall Viva Front Side View

Driving

Vauxhall Viva Rear Side View

How much does it cost to run

Vauxhall Viva Bootspace

Prices, versions and specification

Overall verdict

"The Viva doesn’t excel in any particular area, but neither does it have much in the way of major weaknesses. Most city car buyers want something compact, easy to live with and cheap to run, and the Viva can do all of that and more. It struggles a little out of the city and lacks much in the way of personality, but it’s not a bad choice."

Vauxhall Viva Front Side View

If you’re old enough to remember the car that the Viva name used to be attached to, then you might like the idea of its contemporary namesake. Introduced in 2014, the Viva was a replacement for the Agila in the city car class, and was based on the previous generation Chevrolet Spark. Like pretty much every city car you can buy, the Viva was designed to be cheap to buy, cheap to run and offer a decent specification for the money.


A cursory glance at the Viva from a distance will give you the basics of what this car is all about. As is generally the way with city cars, maximising the amount of interior space for the given footprint means a tall roof, very short overhangs and a truncated rear end with a near vertical tailgate. There’s little else to distinguish the Viva from much of the competition, although it is quite a handsomely-designed thing given the limited budget. Vauxhall did try and beef it up with the Vauxhall Viva Rocks version.


One of the reasons why the Viva was sold at a low price is because it was built at the General Motors factory in Korea, although the actual design and the engine are European. All that matters from the buyer’s perspective is that the Viva provides a high standard specification even on the base model.


Inside, the Viva offers a respectable amount of space, and while not exceptional it is right up there with the best in the class. Four adults can be accommodated with relative ease, although boot space is a little down on the best performers in the sector. 


There’s more good news in here as all models in the Viva range are well-specified; the basic SE trim gets things you wouldn’t necessarily expect as standard, like lane departure warning, cruise control with speed limiter and heated door mirrors.


The engine range is a simple as it gets; there’s just the single option - a 1.0-litre, three cylinder petrol with 75PS. It’s quite refined for an engine of this size, and offers useful performance in the city. Get out on to quicker roads and it struggles a little however, requiring the driver to work it quite hard to keep up to speed. The flip side of that is that it is very economical, especially if you go for the SE ecoFLEX model which manages to dip below 100g/km of CO2 (on the old NEDC measurement).


The rest of the Viva driving experience is generally good, even if it is unlikely to send your pulse off the chart. It rides very well in most conditions, with the ability to soak up urban imperfections easily. It’s also compact and manoeuvrable, helped by the ‘City’ button which adds extra power assistance to the steering, making it easier to turn.


There’s not a great deal to criticise the Viva for, other than a degree of breathlessness out of the city, but it also fails to stand apart from its rivals. It’s cheap to run, spacious, well-equipped and easy to drive, but it’s also somewhat forgettable. Buying one wouldn’t be a huge mistake, but there are more appealing alternatives.

Is the Viva right for you?

As with a lot of city cars, the Viva is inexpensive to buy and to run as well as easy to drive, so it is likely to come up on the radar of new drivers. Aside from the more obvious reasons the Viva would make a good first car because of the good standard specification - a decent infotainment system and also lane departure warning are certainly worthwhile - and the fact that Vauxhall dealerships are pretty numerous should make life a bit easier too.


The Viva would also make a sensible choice for buyers with limited mobility, or those who don’t plan on making many, if any, long journeys and need something easy to park with a low-effort driving experience. Buyers looking for a lot of boot space, an exciting drive or something with a lot of style might do better elsewhere.

What’s the best Viva to choose?

There’s no engine options to think about here, with just the single 1.0-litre unit available. The Viva comes with a five-speed manual gearbox as standard, but is also available with an automated manual shift, but the manual is the better of the two if you have the choice.


Choosing the basic SE model is not the dumb move it might be with some of the competition. The standard specification is generous, including tyre pressure monitoring, lane departure warning, electrically heated and adjustable door mirrors, cruise control and speed limiter, steering wheel audio controls and fog lights with cornering function. A key omission from that list is air conditioning however, but there is an SE a/c model that adds it in.


However, we’d recommend going for the SE Nav or SL models, as they include the 7-inch infotainment system with navigation, climate control, Bluetooth and additional speakers.

What other cars are similar to the Vauxhall Viva?

The Viva compares perfectly with the key players in the city car segment, namely the Toyota Aygo, Citroen C1, Peugeot 108 triplets, as well as the Skoda Citigo and SEAT Mii - like the Viva these are only available secondhand now, but the Volkswagen Up is still sold in petrol form. 


The Hyundai i10 also needs to be considered as it is one of the best city cars that money can buy, while the Suzuki Celerio is very similar in design and execution to the Viva, with a five-door-only bodyshell, but it isn’t quite as nicely finished inside.

Learn more

Vauxhall Viva Driver's Seat

On the inside

Vauxhall Viva Front Side View

Driving

Vauxhall Viva Rear Side View

How much does it cost to run

Vauxhall Viva Bootspace

Prices, versions and specification