The rebirth of the Vauxhall Viva as a frugal city car

As a teenager I learned to drive in my dad’s Vauxhall Viva; first off road before I could legally sport L-plates. Then, as a cub reporter, I had a second-hand model. So I have fond memories of the motor.

This week, the classic Viva is reborn — after a gap of 35 years — but as a frugal city car costing from £7,000 and managing up to 70mpg.

A five-door, five-seater replacement for the Agila, it’s powered by a new 1-litre engine and is out in spring, soon after being launched at the Geneva Motor Show.

This week, the classic Viva is reborn — after a gap of 35 years — but as a frugal city car costing from £7,000 and managing up to 70mpg

This week, the classic Viva is reborn — after a gap of 35 years — but as a frugal city car costing from £7,000 and managing up to 70mpg

Vauxhall says the newcomer promises ‘exceptional safety and class-leading comfort’, and that it will share the original’s ‘philosophy of clean lines, durability and practicality’. Features include heated seats and steering wheel. It comes in ten colours with 14 to 16-inch wheels.

The three-cylinder 75 bhp ECOTEC engine is linked to a five-speed gearbox. It’s aimed to keep emissions — on which road tax is based — to less than 100g/km.

The ‘infotainment system’ can link to Apple and Android smartphones and devices. There’s also electronic stability and traction control, antilock brakes and hill-start assist, with lane departure warning as one of many options.

It also has ‘city mode’ which reduces steering effort at the push of a button.

From 1964 to 1979, 1.5 million of the small family saloons were built before the model was superseded by the Astra.

Sadly, the 2015 Viva won’t be built at Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, but in South Korea, and will share the underpinnings of the next-gen Chevrolet Spark.

Just as well the Government this week promised to spend £15 billion on improving main roads and motorways — including 85 new schemes and a tunnel bypass near Stonehenge.

For a new report by the RAC Foundation predicts Britain’s already gridlocked roads will be jammed with seven million extra drivers within 20 years as traffic soars by a third.

On current trends that means road users will leap from 36 million to 43 million by 2035.

The number of miles travelled will soar by a fifth in a decade and by more than a third within 20 years, it concludes.

RAC Foundation director Professor Stephen Glaister said: ‘Traffic forecasting is not an exact science, but the direction of travel is clear: towards increasing jams.’

Ferrari’s latest petrolelectric hybrid supercar, the FXXK, is so uncompromisingly built, it would be illegal to drive it on the road. So should you be lucky enough to own one, you’d be confined to the racetrack.

What’s more, it’s likely to set you back more than £2million, and you’ll have to be a long-standing VIP Ferrari customer even to get on the waiting list.

Apart from a name that conjours up Aussie lager or dubious fashion chain advertisements, it’s near perfect. Its 6,262 cc V12 engine develops 860 bhp with another 190bhp coming from its electric motor — making 1,050bhp in total, or about ten Ford Fiestas.

Ferrari says it will be ‘an unprecedented driving experience’. The ‘K’, by the way, refers to the KERS — the hybrid ‘kinetic energy recovery system’, which claws back wasted energy to boost performance.

Still wondering what you want for Christmas?

Your mission, Mr Bond, is to spot the difference…

Imitation, they say, is the sincerest form of flattery. So when the wraps came off the new Bond car for 007’s next film, Spectre, some suspected a clear case of industrial espionage. For the new Aston Martin DB10, far right, looks uncannily like Jaguar’s F-Type, right. So much so that one Jaguar exec told me he ‘nearly fell off his chair’ when he saw it.

The Jaguar F-Type (left) and Bond’s DB10 (right). Jaguar has denied any involvement in the design of the car

So, did Jaguar have a hand in creating the new DB10? ‘Absolutely not,’ insisted Aston Martin. ‘On this occasion, it’ll be a model developed specifically for the film and built in-house by our design and engineering teams.’ Jaguar similarly denied it outright.

But the theory is compelling. Jaguar is based at Gaydon, Warks, right next to Aston Martin’s boutique factory. And Jaguar Land Rover has recently set up a specialist arm making low-volume special editions. Could Aston have designed its DB10 around the underpinnings of an F-Type? After all, in the movies, illusion is reality …


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