SMALL car buyers with an eye for value will be coming down with some Viva fever.
The stylish new Viva is the latest addition to the burgeoning Holden stable, boosted by products from GM`s Daewoo interests.
It is sourced from Korea, but has undergone a considerable Holdenification.
Holden engineers have made a series of changes to the car, which is based on Daewoo`s Lacetti.
The result is a vast improvement on the Lacetti, which was nowhere near as suited to Australian conditions, and failed to strike a chord with buyers.
Viva, which sits somewhere between Barina and Astra, is available in three body styles _ sedan, hatch or wagon.
All are good-sized vehicles that accommodate five people.
Viva has a familiar, Astra-style face and a roomy interior that is thoughtfully designed, but more functional that funky. The plastics have a cheapish look and feel.
Price is its greatest asset, with the manual sedan and hatch costing only $17,990 and the wagon $19,490.
All variants are powered by an economical and reliable 1.8 litre DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder engine that produces peak power of 89kW at 5800 rpm and peak torque of 169Nm at 2600rpm.
Buyers have a choice of five-speed manual or optional four-speed automatic transmission for an extra $2000.
The automatic features a Hold control button that allows it to work as a manual, enabling drivers to stay in the appropriate gear for better control on hilly roads.
The engine complies with future Euro 4 emissions standards and returns excellent fuel economy figures of 7.4 litres per 100 kilometres.
Safety, which is always a concern with small cars, has been bolstered in the JF Viva with a standard combination of driver, front passenger and front side impact airbags on all models.
The Viva package includes height-adjustable front seat belts with pre-tensioners, air conditioning, power steering, CD player, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, front power windows (all round on the wagon), heated exterior mirrors, 6-way height adjustable driver`s seat and a tilt and telescopic-adjustable steering wheel.
It also offers more than 20 storage compartments, including cup holders, coin trays and a multi-storage area under the rear cargo floor in the wagon.
Ride comfort is supple and controlled and road noise is kept to a minimum.
All-round power disc brakes are supplemented by a tandem brake booster system that sharpens braking response and reduces pedal travel. Four-channel ABS is available in an option pack.
It completes most tasks with the minimum of fuss, but those looking for sports car-like handling won`t be inspired.
Eight colors are offered _ Arctic White, Mercury Silver (metallic), Jet Black (metallic), Impact Blue (metallic), Chilli Red (hatch only), Sunset Orange (metallic - hatch only), Mocha (metallic, sedan and wagon only) and Royal Red (metallic - sedan and wagon only).
The JF Viva replaces the TS Astra Classic which will be phased out as Viva stocks flood Holden dealer showrooms.