Where does the new Vauxhall Viva leave the Adam and Corsa?

Published: 03 March 2015

► Vauxhall Viva unveiled in Geneva
► Where does it sit vs Corsa, Adam?
► Full preview live from Switzerland 

Vauxhall’s chosen the 2015 Geneva show to give its new Viva small hatch its first public airing. Sitting just below the Corsa in terms of both size and price, at a smidge under 3.7m it’s all but the same overall length as the Adam.

Which poses the question: since Vauxhall’s already got Adam and Corsa – why Viva?

Vauxhall Viva: the positioning

Although Viva and Adam might occupy more or less the same footprint, they fill very different shoes. 

As the cartoon-styled, endlessly customisable Adam aims to tempt fashion-conscious buyers from their Minis, Fiat 500s and Citroen DS3s, the Viva is a more rational, no-nonsense proposition – think Hyundai i10, Skoda Citigo and Kia Picanto.

Vauxhall/Opel design chief Mark Adams describes the Viva as ‘very functional’ and ‘all about value for money.’ Although it’s been styled with big friendly headlights and a smiling grille it’s a deliberately less expressive, more muted design than the Adam.

The Viva’s been designed with a very square tail and high roof (although the tapered window graphic does a reasonable job of disguising that) and the rear doors eat greedily into the C-pillars, making it easy to get in the back and genuinely roomy once inside. Unlike some sub-supermini sized hatches, the Viva’s can carry five occupants, and to its credit, five fairly burly ones. It’s far more spacious than the Aygo/C1/108 triplets – and measurably more so than an Adam, too.

There’s plenty of talk from Vauxhall personnel at the show of the importance of giving the Viva a feel of solidity, both in how it looks and how it feels. Inside, there are plenty of hard plastics – standard for the class – but it’s only moderately gloomy in there. The switchgear’s attractive and tactile enough – nicer than that of the Corsa, dare I say it – and there’s a deliberately clean, uncluttered feel.

When Viva arrives in the UK in June, it’ll start from £7995, making it the cheapest model in the Vauxhall range. By contrast, Corsa starts at £8995 and Adam at £11,445.

Does Vauxhall need three small hatchbacks?

It’s done the sums, and believes it does. The small car market continues to make up a big slice of the automotive market pie and Vauxhall believes there’s enough of a gap for the no-nonsense, sensible-shoes Viva to make hay.

Since there’s more clear air between Adam and Viva in terms of price, style and ethos than first glance might suggest, company insiders say they’re actually more worried about Viva cannibalising sales from the Corsa. 

Vauxhall’s bargaining on the Corsa’s far broader range (the Viva gets just one engine and two trims, the Corsa a real smorgasbord of both), slightly larger dimensions and more distinctive looks will prevent overlap between the two cars.

Who’s going to buy the Vauxhall Viva?

Vauxhall insiders say the Viva isn’t aimed at a particular demographic in terms of age or gender, rather a mindset – buyers with their sensible head on, essentially, who want a simple, usable and inexpensive car.

As a result, the range is deliberately simple: two trim levels and one engine, the 73bhp naturally aspirated 1.0-litre petrol also found in Adam and Corsa. It’s a far cry from the vastly complex Astra and Corsa ranges we’ve seen in the recent past.

In Europe the Viva’s bizarrely badged the Opel Karl (after company founder Adam Opel’s son). A more cuddly and altogether British name was needed for the Vauxhall version, hence the decision to dust off the Viva nameplate, even though there’s not even a tenuous link with the ’60s-era Vauxhalls of the same name.

The more time spent kicking the Viva’s tyres, the more it begins to make sense. The Adam’s sensible, no-nonsense brother looks like it could occupy an entirely credible position in the city hatch sector – and the Vauxhall model line-up as a whole.

By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, occasional racer