The new Vauxhall Viva Hatchback is a bit of a nod to the past, with the original model making its debut in the 1960s. This latest model is smaller than the Corsa, it’s the brand’s most affordable car, and yet it’s still fairly roomy inside.
It’s smart without being the most stylish car in its sector, and willing without being the most performative. A bit of a “nearly” car? OSV takes a closer look at what it’s all about with our 2018 Vauxhall Viva Hatchback review.
Vauxhall made their first car in 1903 and are still manufacturing cars at their plant in Luton to this day. Find out more about this centenarian carmaker in our brief history of Vauxhall.
Overview of the Vauxhall Viva Hatchback
On the Road
It’s a compact city car built for urban settings, and it excels in congested towns and cities. It’s lively when you need it to be, rather quick off the mark, and body lean is well controlled.
For 2018, Vauxhall have tweaked the Viva’s steering and suspension setup so that it’s able to cope better with Britain’s poorer road surfaces. All models come with a “city steering” function that lightens the steering up even more at low speeds.
So far, so good. However, what the Viva isn’t is engaging. There are certainly cars in this sector that are more fun, and the Viva is even a tad noisy at times, especially out on the motorway.
If you opt for the highest spec model, your Viva will ride 18mm higher than the rest of the range. It’s hard to pinpoint why exactly, as it makes no difference to how the car drives. Visibility is perhaps marginally improved, as is ride quality.
In terms of its engines, there’s just one available. This is a small 1.0-litre petrol unit that was born for the city. That said, it’s just as capable out on the motorway, and the Viva doesn’t lose out to rivals on longer stretches of road.
The engine develops a meagre 73bhp, but that’s all this car needs. 0-62 is completed in 13.1 seconds, which makes it quicker than a number of its rivals.
The engine is fitted to a 5-speed manual gearbox that doesn’t need to be worked hard, but you can specify an automatic ‘box if you wish. However, we’d caution against this because city cars and automatics rarely go well together.
Vauxhall Viva Hatchback Interior, Design and Build
This is an affordable city car that offers plenty of value for money. Buyers shouldn’t expect the last word in luxury inside here, but standard kit is so generous that all models look and feel fairly smart.
It’s comfortable too, with Vauxhall adjusting its suspension setup so that it can cope with our horrible roads! Even on the motorway it’s compliant, but insulation is a bit of an issue. Road and wind noise find it easy to make their way into the cabin.
Its dashboard is similar to the Corsa. It’s suitably funky, and we like the glossy trim that is lifted straight from the Adam.
All in all, it’s a bit of a patchwork of different small Vauxhall’s, but it works well. In fact, were it not for a few harder plastics here and there, this would be a contender for best dashboard in this class.
Is the Vauxhall Viva Hatchback practical? It’s certainly roomy for a small car, and even the tallest of drivers should be able to get comfortable up front. The fact that the car comes with five doors is a bonus and makes accessibility easy, and three adults can sit in relative comfort in the rear where headroom is good. Legroom is also good all-round.
On the flipside, storage solutions are few and far between, while the boot measures a mere 206-litres. Fold the rear seats and it increases to 1,013-litres.
Is Vauxhall a reliable carmaker? Read our honest assessment of the car manufacturer.
Equipment and Safety of the Vauxhall Viva Hatchback
Standard kit is good for a car that costs less than £10,000 to start with. The entry-level model comes with an MP3 player, a stereo, a trip computer, electric front windows and cruise control, while the SE Nav model nets you the brands IntelliLink 4.0 sat-nav, air conditioning and an infotainment system.
Strangely, the SL model doesn’t come with sat-nav. Instead, it adds alloys, an OnStar concierge service, a twin-zone climate control system, a leather steering wheel and darkened rear windows.
The Rocks model rounds things off with enhanced looks, but it also misses out on sat-nav.
The brand’s IntelliLink infotainment system can be upgraded to a seven-inch touchscreen, but you’ll have to pay extra no matter what model you’ve got.
In terms of how safe the car is, the Viva was only awarded 3/5 for its Euro NCAP crash test performance. It’s strongly felt that the reason for this is the lack of crash avoidance tech.
It’s not a good score, but standard safety kit includes electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, an alarm and immobiliser and tyre pressure sensors. Lane departure is optional, but autonomous emergency braking is entirely missing.
Costs of the Vauxhall Viva Hatchback
Prices for the new car start at £10,00 and rise to £11,835. For more information on our leasing deals, you can check out our page here.
In terms of its running costs, the sole 1.0-litre petrol engine is at its cheapest when paired up with the 5-speed automatic transmission. It returns 62.8mpg on a good day and emits 105g/km of CO2.
When paired up with the 5-speed manual gearbox, it emits a tiny bit more CO2 and returns 61.4mpg at best.
All in all, the Viva is one of the most frugal cars in this sector. It’s also cheap to insure, occupying, as it does, groups 3 and 4.
Pros and Cons of the Vauxhall Viva Hatchback
It costs £10,000 in its most basic form and it’s cheap to run, too.
Vauxhall know how to make a car look good, and the Viva is another smart-looking model.
Well kitted out
For £10,000, you get a lot of standard kit. Indeed, this is one of the most value for money cars in this sector.
A 3-star safety rating won’t give you much confidence.
Measuring just over 200-litres, this is one of the smallest boots in this class.
Vauxhall Viva Hatchback vs SEAT Mii Hatchback vs Peugeot 108 Hatchback
Let’s see how the car fares against its rivals in the comparison section of our 2018 Vauxhall Viva Hatchback review.
Vauxhall Viva Hatchback vs SEAT Mii Hatchback
For such a small car, the new SEAT Mii Hatchback is super spacious. It’s also lots of fun and affordable to buy.
The Mii is one of those cars capable of putting a smile on your face as you potter around the city. It handles tidily, outdoes the Viva when it comes to driver engagement, and offers a slick gearbox and light steering.
It’s also the top pick in this sector for long distance driving.
In terms of its engines, there’s just one available. This is a 1.0-litre petrol unit that comes with three cylinders and a choice of two separate power outputs. The most basic of the two develops just 59bhp, but while that doesn’t sound like much power at all, a 0-62 time of 14.4 seconds and a lively nature make it a decent option.
Topping the range is a 74bhp variant of the same engine. It covers the 0-62 sprint in 13.2 seconds, feels fast in the towns and cities, but does need to be worked hard.
Running costs? SEAT have ditched the economical EcoMotive variant, which returned almost 70mpg economy on a good day. Instead, both the 59 and 74bhp variants of the same 1.0-litre engine manage 64.2mpg at best – which still isn’t bad at all.
Insurance-wise, the entry level Mii sits in group 1 of 50, while the range-topping model occupies group 4.
Inside, the Mii is comfortable, robust, and even quite attractive. Insulation is a bit of an issue, especially when you begin to work the engine hard, but it isn’t too bad.
The dashboard is a simple but well-organised affair, with all the controls easy to find and operate. A leather steering wheel, meanwhile, gives the car a bit of a sense of occasion.
Is the SEAT Mii practical? It might be a small car, but thanks to some clever design skills, it’s surprisingly roomy. Buyers can choose between a three or a five-door model, wide-opening doors make access easy, and four adults – as opposed to five – can sit in comfort in the rear.
The Viva is bigger and accommodates more people better, while legroom in the rear here will be tight for taller passengers.
On the other hand, the Mii has a bigger boot. It measures 251-litres and can be extended to as much as 959-litres when you fold the rear seats.
Vauxhall – £10,00 – £11,835
SEAT – £11,510
Vauxhall Viva Hatchback vs Peugeot 108 Hatchback
The new Peugeot 108 Hatchback costs less than £10,000 and comes with a full-length folding roof.
On the road, the 108 was built for the towns and cities, where it excels. On the motorway, it’s less assured and even feels out of its depth.
That said, it’s a big improvement on the 107, and can boast light steering and good ride quality. It’s not a bundle of fun, but it’s perfect if you’ll be spending most of your time in urban settings.
In terms of its engines, there are two petrols available, starting with a 1.0-litre unit. This peppy little thing will be enough for most buyers, and completes the 0-62 dash in a modest 13.0 seconds.
Should you be planning to spend more time on the motorway, a bigger 1.2-litre petrol engine is a better option. It has a 0-62 time of 10.9 seconds, which makes it the fastest car in this review. However, it’s only available with the highest spec models.
Running costs? The 1.0-litre petrol is the most frugal, returning close to 70mpg while emitting 95g/km of CO2. This qualifies it for a BiK rating of 18%. To get those numbers you’ll need to stick to the manual gearbox.
The bigger 1.2-litre petrol is hardly any more uneconomical and can return 65.7mpg on a good day while emitting 99g/km of CO2.
Inside, the new 108 is a lot more cheerful than its sombre 107 predecessor. Insulation is much improved, the plastics are less oppressive, and the car copes better with potholes.
The dashboard, meanwhile, is a lot tidier and simpler destined, while a 7” touchscreen comes as standard.
Is the Peugeot 108 practical? While the Viva can accommodate five people and the Mii can accommodate four, this 108 can accommodate four – but only just. Being so compact means it’s at least easy to drive and park in the city, and visibility is very good.
It’s available with either three or five doors, and space up front is fine, while storage solutions are reasonable but nothing great.
The boot is perhaps the most disappointing aspect, measuring just 196-litres.
Peugeot – £9,120 – £13,835
Verdict of our Vauxhall Viva Hatchback Review
If ever a car has been frustratingly hit and miss, this might be it. There’s a lot to love about it, but a smart exterior is followed by a dull cabin. And while the car is easy to drive and park, it’s also boring to drive. And while it might be cheap to run and spacious inside, a tiny boot and a 3-star safety rating are major flaws.
The Vauxhall Viva Hatchback is very much one for your shortlist – but whether it tops your shortlist is down to you now.