RAC Cars News


Vauxhall Muddies The Small Car Waters

By raccars Published

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Vauxhall has introduced a new small car this week at the Geneva Motor Show - the Viva - a much publicised revival of an old name for the company. However, with the Corsa and the Adam already on its books, is there really room for another small car in Vauxhall's line up, and where does this leave the Corsa and the Adam?

Size wise, the Viva is almost exactly the same size as the Adam, both a little smaller than the Corsa. However, Vauxhall claims the Adam and the Viva have very different personalities. The Adam is flirty and fashionable, designed to steal trade from the Fiat 500, Mini and Citroen DS3 crowd. The Viva is, apparently, far more sensible and rational, designed to compete with the likes of the Skoda Citigo, Kia Picanto and Hyundai i10.

The brief for the Viva included the terms 'functional' and 'value for money', and Vauxhall certainly seems to have achieved its goal in that respect. Clever design means the tiny Viva can accommodate five good sized adults in reasonable comfort and comes with a starting price of £7,995 - cheaper than the £8,995 Corsa and the £11,445 Adam.

While the interior fit and finish give away the car's entry level status, the Viva isn't cheap and nasty by any means, as Vauxhall has worked hard to endow it with a solid feel. The cabin is clean and simple and, arguably, more pleasant than the Corsa's.

Despite an ostensibly wide gap between the markets for the Adam and the Viva, the question remains whether Vauxhall really needs a third small hatchback? The company believes there is a clear commercial case for the introduction of the Viva. Despite the crossover revolution, small cars are still the best selling market segment in the UK and Vauxhall is realistic enough to grasp that the Adam's specific appeal is not for everyone. It has identified a small but distinct gap in its line up and the Viva has been designed to plug it.

In fact, Vauxhall executives believe there's more chance that the Viva could dilute sales of the slightly larger Corsa. The firm is hoping that the Corsa's broader trim range and larger size will keep a distinction between the two, deliberately limiting the Viva to a single engine and two trim levels only.

There's a possibility Vauxhall is shooting itself in the foot here by endangering the Corsa, which has been such a success for it for years, but the more the company justifies the Viva's presence in an already crowded market segment, the more it starts to make sense...

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