Vauxhall adds an SUV twist to its Viva citycar. Jonathan Crouch checks out the Viva Rocks.
Ten Second Review
It was only a matter of time before someone brought us a citycar designed for this SUV era. This is it, the Vauxhall Viva Rocks. It won't be much use 'off piste', but it'll make quite a splash in the supermarket carpark.
Is any market segment safe from SUV influence? To date, we've had SUV-style MPVs and estate cars, plus Rolls Royce, Bentley and even Lamborghini have had to make one. Now at last, we've got an SUV-orientated citycar too, in the form of this little Vauxhall Viva Rocks.
There's no pretence here at off road capability - or much else come to that. This top 'Rocks' variant is there to give the Viva range a bit of a fillip. And it might do just that.
The Viva rocks features many design cues typically found on larger SUV models, such as an increased ride height that enables better visibility and improved response to uneven surfaces - such as country lanes or potholes. Like other Viva models, this one uses the brand's 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine in normally aspirated 75PS form, which is probably about adequate for a citycar.
This little powerplant 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.
Design and Build
You won't miss this SUV-style Viva variant in the supermarket car park. Silver roof rails, a rugged front bumper with integrated fog lights, a rear bumper with an integrated skid pad, muscular wheel arches, and unique 15-inch bi-colour look alloy wheels all aim to set this derivative apart and give it what Vauxhall hops is a dynamic, sporty appearance. For the inside, most customers will opt for the optional R 4.0 IntelliLink infotainment system brings the world of smartphones into the car via 'Apple CarPlay' or 'Android Auto' connectivity.
With that set up, you'll also be able to use navigation through Apple Maps or Google Maps. Alternatively, Navi 4.0 IntelliLink offers an integrated navigation system. This connectivity offering is completed with the availability of the personal connectivity and service assistant, OnStar, making this Viva among the best connected A-segment cars on the market. Otherwise, it's just like any other Viva model. At 3,700mm long, this Vauxhall 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. This means you get a surprisingly spacious cabin with a luggage capacity of up to 1,013-litres if the rear bench is folded forward.
Market and Model
You'll pay just over £11,500 for his top 'Rocks' Viva model. That makes it about the same price as the normal top-spec 'SL' variant, which seems a reasonable deal. Remember that for this kind of money, if you were shopping in this segment for something like, say, a Volkswagen up!, you'd get a very basic level of spec indeed.
Most 'Rocks' buyers will want to pay extra for the optional R 4.0 IntelliLink infotainment system with its 'Apple CarPlay' and 'Android Auto' smartphone-mirroring connectivity.
Standard kit includes things like daytime running lights, an alarm, powered door mirrors, steering wheel audio controls, a 'City' mode to lighten the steering when parking and driver's seat height adjustment. Plus heated mirrors and cruise control with a speed limiter that'll help safeguard your licence in roadworks or urban areas. That's in addition to the standard stuff you'd now expect on a car in this class - 60/40 split-folding rear seats and a trip computer.
As for safety, well you get tyre pressure monitoring and a Lane departure warning system that stops dozy drivers from veering out of their lanes on the highway. There are the usual electronic aids for braking, traction and stability control. Plus hill start assist to stop you from drifting backwards on uphill junctions. And twin front, side and curtain airbags, a pedestrian-friendly bonnet and ISOFIX childseat fastenings.
Cost of Ownership
The 1.0-litre ECOTEC engine that all Viva variants feature uses the same technology you'll find in Vauxhall's other small ADAM and Corsa models, fashioned from light aluminium and designed with refinement in mind. This engine's internal friction levels are much lower than they would be in a comparable four cylinder unit and it runs on low viscosity oils, all these features contributing to impressive levels of running efficiency.
As a result, it makes some decent economy figures, with this variant recording about 60mpg on the combined cycle and 115g/km of CO2. You'll also need to know that Vauxhall includes a three-year, 60,000 mile warranty as standard, a package that can be extended up to five years and 100,000 miles at extra cost. A year's free breakdown cover is also provided, along with a six-year anti-corrosion guarantee.
Plus you can opt for a service plan that lets you pay monthly to spread the cost of regular work to your car. As part of this, Vauxhall offers discounts on wear and tear items, such as brake pads and windscreen wipers.
There are two ways of looking at this car. Either it's a cynical marketing exercise with lifestyle styling that has no really practical purpose. Or it's a charming little city scoot that's attractively priced and good to look at. If you take the latter view, then you'll probably bond with this Viva Rocks immediately. It doesn't take itself too seriously.
Its frugal, fashionable and inside, very well connected if you enjoy your media toys. It's also surprisingly spacious for a car this small. In short, you might like it more than you thought you were going to. We did.