Just how many small cars does Vauxhall need? It’s got the fashionable Adam, the ‘sporty’ Corsa (their words), and now the sensible and conservative Viva.
There’s clearly a business case for it, though. The A-segment alone has doubled in size since 2005 and now accounts for 10% of new car registrations in the UK.
I recently headed to Vauxhall HQ in Luton for the launch of the Viva. Of course, it’d be rude not to grab the opportunity to drive our long-term Corsa ‘home’, so to speak.
As a result, I got to drive the Corsa and the new Viva back-to-back. They’re not clear rivals – the Viva starts at £7,995 while the Corsa will set you back £9,175 (or £14,460 in SRi VX-Line trim with the 1.0-litre turbo engine).
But, do buyers really stick strictly to segments? Is a Vauxhall salesman really doing his job if he doesn’t try to upsell a potential Viva buyer into the bigger (and pricier) Corsa?
It’s worth doing a quick, unscientific comparison, then.
For a start, the Viva and ‘my’ Corsa have the same 1.0-litre engine. In the Viva, it produces 75hp and accelerates to 62mph in 13.1 seconds. But in the Corsa, it’s turbocharged, producing 115hp and hitting 62mph in 10.3 seconds. It’s surprising what a big difference that 2.8 seconds makes.
After a period of driving the Corsa, it’s an odd sensation driving a Viva with the same engine without the turbo. It drives the same, until the revs rise, and you expect a turbo to kick in. But it doesn’t, and it feels a bit flat.
Vauxhall will tell you that Viva buyers won’t be bothered about its lack of go. And that’s true to a degree. But it gets tiring have to work the Viva quite so hard. If you’re a young person being bought a Viva as your first car, you might want to persuade your parents to dig a deeper for a Corsa.
Both cars have had their handling tuned for UK roads. The Corsa feels sportier – no doubt helped by the sports suspension fitted to our VX-Line model but the Viva rides extremely well.
It doesn’t enjoy being chucked around the same as the Corsa, but on urban streets its narrow dimensions definitely give it an advantage.
So to conclude? If you want a sensible, affordable city car, buy the Viva. If you want something slightly sportier and more enjoyable to drive, buy the Corsa. Er, exactly what Vauxhall said then…