The enduring affection of the Great British public for Vauxhall, which remains our second-largest domestic power in terms of overall market share, tells you a lot about what really sells cars in this country.
‘Affection’, though, may be too strong a term to describe something that’s probably become more of an attachment than a true fondness for a lot of owners during the past three decades or so.
Over that time, Vauxhall’s UK-built models have been replaced, in increasing numbers, by cars that seem less distinct from their Opel sister models and are built at overseas production sites. The same thing has happened to other ‘British’ volume brands, of course, while some have disappeared altogether.
But at the same time, the sense of Vauxhall as it once was – a proper British car-making brand, albeit one under US ownership since 1925 – has not only deteriorated but also been neglected.
So to the prickly question: does the UK car buyer honestly care about Griffin-branded Vauxhalls any more? You suspect the majority of those signing up for a new Corsa, Astra, Mokka, Adam or Insignia today would be just as happy if their new cars had Opel’s lightning flash on the grille – provided there’s no change to the practicality, versatility and value for money that the cars represent.
But given that it remains a company producing more than 200,000 new vehicles in the UK every year, doing plenty of engineering here and employing tens of thousands of Britons, you can see why Vauxhall would want its company crest to mean a bit more to people.
Enter, then, a new small model with an identity to rekindle some warmth of feeling (at least among those with a long enough memory): the Viva city car. Although it’s a size smaller than its popular 1960s namesake, the new Viva has a similar mission: to bring the Vauxhall brand to the widest possible audience via remarkable usability and value for money.
Read on to find out exactly how remarkable we’re talking.