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BEETLE, Mini and 500 - names brought back from the past by Volkswagen, BMW and Fiat respectively.

Now we can add to the list of automotive reincarnations the name Viva. Courtesy of Vauxhall, of course.

The original Viva was launched in 1963 as a three-door boxy saloon with a 1.0-litre engine under its bonnet.

Vauxhall, for a bit of fun, have had Autocar magazine reprint its original road test of the Viva and handed it out to hacks at the new car's launch. "Viva: the new small car from Luton," it says.

Unfortunately, the new Viva can't claim to be from Luton because it's made in Korea.

The good news is that it was designed in Europe and tested extensively on British roads.

Motoring magazines in 1963 went into far more technical detail than they do today, mainly because in the 1960s it was very likely that you would have to delve into your car's innards to find out it why it wouldn't start - or where the puddle of oil underneath it had come from.

Autocar tells us, for example, that four fuses protect the Viva's electrical system. I think the 2015 Viva has a few more than that.

You can tell the Viva was developed on our roads because the ride is comfortable, even more so with a few people on board. It steers well and drives as well as you need a small and simple car to.

We like simple cars here and the new Viva is blissfully simple.

There's only a five-door body and only one engine. It's a 1.0-litre motor that produces 75bhp.

And, as is popular at the moment, it has three cylinders. What it doesn't have is a turbocharger or balancer shafts, both of which you'll find in the three-pot engine used in the Adam and Corsa.

The engine is nice and thrummy and has lots of character. Which is just as well because it doesn't have a lot of performance.

Although its 75bhp is normal for this size of car, the engine produces only 70lb ft of torque, which would be a lot for a motorbike but isn't much for a car that can carry five people.

But then I doubt that the Viva will often do that much heavy lifting. Vauxhall reckon it'll be bought by young people and older couples, and be an only car and privately owned rather be company fleet-owned.

There are only two trim levels to choose from - the SE and the SL. S and L are letters that appeared on the top-level Vivas in the 60s and 70s, and noted the most luxurious version, which, in those days, meant two wing mirrors instead of one.

The Viva's greatest selling point is its price - your basic SE costs just PS7995, which is terrific value.

It has Group 3 insurance and a combined fuel consumption of 62.8mpg, so it will certainly appeal to younger punters or those having to make a pension go a decent way.

The second selling point is that it doesn't look like a cheap car.

The styling follows current Vauxhall thinking (and Opel - the Viva is the Karl in Europe) and has elements of Astra coupe but looks more normal than the Adam.

Mirror to mirror, the Viva is slightly longer and narrower than Volkswagen's Up, which, of course, is its natural rival. Even the Up, and its brothers from Skoda and SEAT, can't match the Viva on price.

On-the-road price doesn't matter too much with most new cars because they're financed and what counts is the size of the monthly payments.

But as most Vivas will be bought cash, a thousand quid is a big number.

You get a lot of kit for your money as even in the cheapest Viva SE cruise control, fogs and lane departure warning are standard.

Next year, for under PS500, the Viva will have the option of Vauxhall's IntellLink system with its big central touchscreen that will enable you to link to your smartphone and have web radio and voice texting.

Some older buyers might not want these functions, in which case they could do a lot worse than immediately order a new Viva.


Vauxhall Viva SE five-door hatchback Price: PS7995 Engine: 1.0-litre three-cylinder, 75bhp 0-62mph: 13.1 seconds Fuel consumption: 62.8mpg


FULL OF 3CHARACTER The new Vauxhall Viva and, below right, the original
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 5, 2015
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