Many, many moons ago I had just learnt how to take a dump in my little potty instead of taking a dump in my diapers. It was a small step for a toddler and a relief to my mum as she didn't have to wash diapers anymore. I had also learnt that Malaysian Television had only 2 channels in black and white and I managed to survive these dark ages with barely a scratch. This was sometime in the mid 1970s and my father had just taken delivery of a new car named the Viva. Now this Viva was made by Vauxhall and was General Motors’ small family sized sedan that supposedly competed with the Fiat 124, Ford Escort and other European small family sedans. It was a dull looking sedan. If you were six years old and drew a car, you’d draw this kind of car, a typical three box shape with four wheels sticking out of it. (see pic)
Now the thing is the word ‘Viva’ basically means “Long Live” or “Hooray!” and this car had nothing to be praised at all. It was a crap car with crap build quality and handling. I remember my father telling me that he ended up with tons of cooling problems as well as some electrical problems also. It was also a car that my father used for the shortest period of time and not worth mentioning at all. The fact is, I believe that one of the reasons that my father chose a Vauxhall Viva was that I happened to come along into his life by being born, and he needed a ‘decent’ family car (This was after he owned an MGB GT which he sold off due to the reason stated above and another major incident involving that car). In those days, most respectable Government servants wouldn’t be caught dead in anything Japanese. That means something British or Italian, something that wasn’t named Sunny or Cedric or something that wasn’t made out of
Notice that after the 1970s and in the 1980s GM basically had no market presence in
Back to the Viva, the Perodua Viva; instead of the original Viva from the days of terrible British engineering. This is the replacement for the Kelisa, which was first launched in 2000 and also the Kancil, which was first launched when Perodua was still in its diapers, sometime in 1995. From what I gather, it is a car with pretty good build quality and has a lot of space compared to its predecessor, the Kancil. In fact, the materials used by Perodua is so much better than even a Proton Gen-2 or Satria Neo which are cars from a grade higher than the market segment which the Viva is targeting. This is a feel good factor and is actually what Malaysians want; space and quality at a very reasonable price. I have to repeat that Malaysians do not really care if their car has handling like Lotus but just want to load things that they buy from Ikea into their cars. This is the reason cars like this new Viva and the earlier Perodua Myvi will succeed in selling by the thousands. I have sat in the 1000cc Viva full option and the seating position is nice (no silly Satria Neo screwups), the steering is light, the switches and controls very tactile and the quality in fittings is purely Daihatsu. These are good things. Looking at the size, it is as long as a Myvi as even with me pulling the seat to my desired driving position, there is still lots of space for the rear passenger. The boot also is an improvement over both the Kelisa and the Kancil although not by much but the seats fold down to make lots of space. Imagine a Myvi that is slightly lower and 10cm narrower and you have the Viva. I think, it may not be as nippy as the Kelisa due to its size, but at this price, space and comfort takes priority. And if you’re into tuning cars, you’d know that you can make any car handle pretty decent if you have some money to throw into the car.
On another note, I am looking forward to test driving the smallest Viva of them all, the 660cc manual. Why you might ask? The reason is pretty simple. It REVS TO 8,000 RPM! The 850cc and 1000cc models may have more power but they only redline at 6500rpm. This is pretty normal and what we motorheads would like is to occasionally drive a car with redlines closer to motorcycle redlines. Imagine driving this silly small car all the way to 8,000rpm and trying to keep the revs high, maintain momentum and just trying a windy mountain road in a small compact car. It would be like having a diluted experience of driving a small Italian Fiat 500, 600 Abarth through a mountain road. Imagine a mini Viva race series limited to the 660cc Vivas. It would be like a dozen angry mosquitos tearing down Sepang. It would be a race series that would be cheap to run yet pretty technical. It would be glorious, just Glorious. This Viva could be really live up to its namesake this time around.