Vauxhall hatches a pair of beauties
IT’S been a busy year for Vauxhall with lots of models arriving and I got to grips recently with a couple of them.
They are both in the small car sector – but are aimed at very different types of motorists.
First up was a complete newcomer, although it does come with a familiar name.
Vauxhall’s new Viva went on sale in the UK in June but it’s not one bit, as you would imagine, like its namesake.
The original Viva was a highly popular car during its production years from 1963 to 1979.
And the new budget-priced model should be just as tempting for buyers.
The five-door hatchback is priced from £7,995 to £9,495 and is powered by just the one engine – a 1-litre three-cylinder 74bhp petrol unit that is capable of achieving combined fuel economy of 65.7mpg.
This stylish little car comes with two levels – SE and SL – with Air Con and ecoFlex versions of the SE trim giving a four-model choice.
Both get impressive equipment levels which on the entry-level SE model I sampled included cruise control with speed limiter, lane departure warning, city mode steering, tyre pressure monitoring, front fog lights with cornering function, steering wheel mounted audio controls and tiltable steering column.
Additional features on SL models include electronic climate control, leather-covered steering wheel, USB audio connection, Bluetooth music streaming, six speakers, tinted rear windows and 15-inch alloy wheels.
I liked the Viva’s smart interior which offered plenty room up front and would comfortably accommodate two adults in the rear for long journeys.
And I was pleasantly surprised with how well this new model handled.
It was super for town driving with its smooth five-speed manual gearbox and light steering allowed easy parking in tight spaces.
Moving to 60mph in 13.1 seconds and capable of 106mph, the Viva offered enough power for comfortable driving and the engine wasn’t too noisy sitting at motorway speeds.
It also handled well on minor roads with easy gear changes when tackling some hilly roads.
This Viva didn’t disappoint and the test car’s £8,490, including its £495 air con option, represents excellent value for money.
Another summer arrival was the latest version of Vauxhall’s pocket rocket – a stunning Corsa VXR.
This is a model that will definitely get you noticed in town and promises to deliver plenty of thrills.
It’s got the hot-hatch looks with a new aggressive front design featuring large air intakes and its rear spoiler and twin Remus exhaust pipes.
Under the bonnet is a 202bhp 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine that sprints off the blocks in just 6.5 seconds and boasts a top speed of 143mph.
This VXR was as fast as it looks on paper with lightning acceleration whenever needed.
Grip was exceptional while travelling at speed on some winding roads as I put this performance model to the test going up and down the six-speed manual box ever so quickly with the short-throw gear lever.
And the twin exhausts roar when you push up the rev counter.
The test car had the £2,400 VXR Performance Pack and while this enhances the sporting handling, the ride can be a bit too firm for normal day-to-day driving.
The cabin has lots of sporty touches, including VXR instrument panel with stepper motor speedo and tachometer, sports pedals and super snug-fitting Recaro shell-backed sports seats with side boosters and integral head restraints.
Its standard spec includes a top IntelliLink infotainment system, three-spoke flat bottomed leather-covered sports steering wheel, air conditioning and cruise control.
The second-generation three-door VXR won’t disappoint hot-hatch buyers.
And there is another bonus – Vauxhall has cut the prices by more than £1,000 against outgoing models.
Corsa VXR on-the-road prices start at £17,995.