The idea of a citycar SUV might sound like a contradiction in terms. Well, let's be honest, it is a contradiction in terms. But it's also a bit of fun, so why not? That was Vauxhall's reasoning anyway when it introduced this car, the VIVA ROCKS.
Just about every market segment seems to offer an SUV option these days and the citycar sector is no exception. In theory, we've actually had models of this sort ever since 2004 when Fiat launched the Panda 4x4. That though, actually was a model with some sort of 'off piste' capability. In contrast, the idea this Vauxhall advanced - that of a small runabout simply dressed in crossover clothes to attract a younger audience - was, back in 2017 at this model's launch, quite a recent thing.
Or at least it was in the citycar segment. We've seen the concept floated by a varied selection of slightly larger superminis at various times in the last couple of decades, with contenders like the Rover Streetwise, the Volkswagen Polo Dune, the Citroen C3 XTR and, a little more seriously, with the Suzuki Swift 4x4 and the more recent Ford Fiesta Active. When at last, the major brands were prompted by their marketing departments into doing the same thing with tiny urban runabouts, again it was Fiat who took the lead, launching their Panda Cross in 2017, an introduction closely followed by the arrival of the extrovert Suzuki Ignis. Others then also joined the party, bringing us a further selection of SUV-style citycars like Kia's Picanto X-Line, Ford's KA+ Active and, later in 2017, this VIVA ROCKS model.
The VIVA was in particular need of this kind of marketing spin, with sales slowing after this modern era model's original 2015 launch and a buying demographic heavily orientated in the over-Fifties. By 2017, Vauxhall urgently needed to court younger customer with this car, hence the vital need for this ROCKS version, a variant that aimed to appeal to them quite a bit more. The body cladding, smarter wheels and higher ride height made a stronger streetside statement. Plus the brand hoped that twenty-something folk would be pleased by the potential for class-leading standards of interior media connectivity and the option of Vauxhall's clever 'OnStar' personal connectivity and service assistant set-up. The Viva line-up was dropped from the Vauxhall range after the brand's takeover by the PSA Group, sales finally ceasing in 2019.