First Drive

2017 Vauxhall Viva Rocks review - price, specs and release date

The Vauxhall Viva has been given an off-road makeover to create the Vauxhall Viva Rocks. Is it now a class-leading small SUV?

Words By Doug Revolta

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Vauxhall Viva Rocks

Priced from Β£11,530 Release date On sale now

Vauxhall is certainly not limited in its small car offerings. Only a few centimetres here and there separate the Mokka X and Crossland X small SUVs, and it’s a similar story for the Adam and Viva hatchbacks. While the Adam is a style-focused hatchback in a similar vein to the Fiat 500 and Mini, the Viva is a more traditional city car. Viva sales have been slow, though.

In an attempt to give the car a boost and drum up interest from younger buyers, the Viva has been given an on-trend SUV-style makeover. The result gives the Viva Rocks a ride height that’s been raised by 18mm compared with the standard city car, making it a rival to the likes of the quirky Suzuki Ignis.

The Viva Rocks also gets a differently styled front end design, alternative 15in alloys and a new pattern on the interior fabric. The suspension is the same as the standard car's and it uses the same naturally aspirated 1.0-litre petrol engine.

2017 Vauxhall Viva Rocks on the road

Fire up the little three-cylinder engine and it’s pleasingly quiet at low revs and remains so around town. The Viva can keep up with traffic without too much fuss – albeit not with quite the same alertness as turbocharged rivals – but it doesn’t take much for its lack of power to be found out. If you want to accelerate away from traffic or meet a steep incline, you’ll find yourself wishing for more from the dinky 74bhp engine.

When you do eventually make it up to 70mph on the motorway, the engine revs at quite a high 3500rpm, so engine noise can get a little grating after a while.

The five-speed manual gearbox is at least nice to use, offering a smooth and accurate shift, but the dynamic experience doesn’t have much to offer. It’s easy to drive around town, with its light steering and small dimensions making quick work of any tricky parking manoeuvres.

But, there isn’t much in the way of feedback from the steering, and the car doesn’t feel particularly agile, so you won’t find much enjoyment in driving it quickly. The ride is quite unsettled and doesn’t manage to smooth out imperfections as effectively as the impressive and similarly priced Ford Ka+, but the Viva Rocks is still comfortable enough.

Ultimately though, the Ka+ and Ignis both have much better engines and offer a more entertaining experience in every area dynamically.

2017 Vauxhall Viva Rocks interior

Cars in this class don’t have particularly scintillating interiors, but even then the Viva Rocks feels a bit drab inside compared with most. The materials feel very low rent.

The equipment list isn’t long, with Bluetooth and an FM/AM radio as standard but not much else, while a 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system is a Β£435 extra. However, this misses out on sat-nav, and the only way to get it is by opting for the more expensive infotainment system, which is a pretty steep Β£935. Oddly, you can spend less on a standard Viva in a lesser trim and get more equipment than you get on the range-topping Viva Rocks.

It’s a similar story for an Ignis at this price point in terms of equipment, though. SZ3 trim, which is the one most closely matched in price to the Viva Rocks, benefits from a DAB radio, but apart from that, the equipment offering is broadly similar.

Space-wise, there’s enough room up front, but the Ignis has a bigger boot and more head room in the back.

Next: 2017 Vauxhall Viva Rocks verdict >

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