CAR REVIEW: Vauxhall Adam
Imagine, just for a moment, that you’re a chief exec at Vauxhall. You know city cars are selling like hot cakes; everywhere you look there’s another one. They’re stealing sales from you. You need to come up with an alternative to all of them, but despite having a past repertoire that’s rich with rep-mobiles Vauxhall doesn’t have anything funky in its back catalogue that you can re-invent and market for the 21st century in the same way BMW did with Mini and Fiat have been doing for years. So what do you do?
Having just spent the last week with Vauxhall’s all new Adam – it’s named after Adam Opel -Vauxhall’s are after-all Opels in nearly every other country outside the UK – the answer to that opening question might very well be “borrow” bits and pieces from everyone else.
Look closely at the Adam and you’ll soon notice its Fiat 500 like wheel–in–each-corner stance and rounded rear end. At the front the headlamps, bonnet and front-bumper are very Citroen DS3; The wheels? (Optional 17” Roulette Alloys were fitted to the test car) Alfa Romeo, I think. And aren’t those different coloured pillars, chrome window surrounds, and that “floating” roof effect straight off an Audi A1? Put like that, the Adam’s styling sounds a bit busy, a bit try-hard, but in the metal it’s actually not that bad, and over time it grows on you a little.
Inside there are obvious nods to the familiar too. The Adam gets an interior that includes features such as the speedo and tacho set into deep cowls (very Italian); red backlighting for the pointers, switches and dials (very Germanic), and sadly some dubious plastic-panel gaps here and there (French perhaps?).
Apologies, perhaps that’s a little harsh, the Adam’s cabin offers excellent visibility, its very light and airy – more-so if the glass roof has been fitted – and there’s a liberal smattering of some soft-touch, quality feeling materials; especially if your budget permits leather trim. Quite why Vauxhall decided to cover the steering wheel in soft leather, but made the handbrake lever and Adam gear-knob out of hard plastic though remains a mystery. Sometimes a little uniformity makes a lot of difference.
What can’t be argued about though is the Adam’s almost infinite ability to be personalised. Buyers get to choose from a myriad of options which include 20 different wheel types, twelve different highly punned exterior colours including Papa Don’t Peach, Saturday White Fever, Purple Fiction and even James Blonde. Plus a selection of Exterior packs which allow different coloured roofs and mirrors, not to mention a host of decal and sticker packs as well.
The interior too can be tailored to personal taste. A range of interchangeable dashboard inserts mean that if you see another Adam that looks like yours, you can change things. The idea is that no two Adam’s regardless of whether their Jam (Basic), Slam, (Plush) or Glam (the Sporty one) will ever be the same. Should you go for even cheapest of specs though, you still get alloy, air-con, and all-important Bluetooth.
If you can though, make sure you tick the options box marked Intellilink. This is by far the Adam’s trump card. Not only does it mean you gain one of the best sounding, and receiving, in -car digital radios I’ve ever encountered, it also allows you to download apps, navigation for instance, to your phone and then operate them via the units touchscreen: Clever stuff indeed.
What isn’t so clever though is the way the Adam drives. It’s based on a shortened Corsa floor-pan and fitted with sports suspension. The combination of a diminutive wheelbase and firm springs mean that in a week driving on roads I’ve known all my life, I’ve been introduced to lumps, bumps and road surface imperfections that up until now I never knew existed. Also, the sports suspension package – the only option on the higher specAdams– also means you get higher geared steering. Usually that’s a good thing but in this instance it’s far too light and lacking in feel: sadly you never really feel connected to anything.
Engine choices too are limited and straight from the humble Corsa. All are petrol, either a 69bhp 1.2, or an 86 or 99bhp 1.4. There’s no diesel option and you only get five gears. In town that’s more than enough, but once beyond the city limits the lack of power becomes tiresome.
Whether or not the way the Adam drives will concern its targeted customer base though is a matter of debate. You just know they’ll derive their pleasures from the way in which this little car can be personalised in order to satisfy their every whim. The tiny boot and miniscule rear seats probably won’t bother them either. However for those of us for whom these things matter, there’s a slow realisation that what should have been Vauxhall’s fun little car, alas, delivers virtually no fun at all.
Vauxhall Adam Glam 1.4 ecoFlex
Engine: 1398cc 4Cyl 16V petrol
Transmission: 5 speed Manual, front wheel drive.
Power: 86bhp @ 6000pm
Torque: 96 lbft @ 4000rpm
0-62MPH: 12.5 Sec
Max Speed: 109 mph
MPG: 55.4 combined