Verdict: An amazing place to sit, refreshingly modern and one to turn heads is let down by outdated engines and a completely disengaged steering feel. However, it is perfectly tailored to its home: the city. 3.5/5
Looking at the Adam, some good thoughts are already in my head. Before I have even stepped in, I have to give my kudos to the Opel/Vauxhall design team. They have gone absolutely wild in a good way here, making Adam unashamed to be modern, with not even a hint to the past. This is proper forward thinking. Even though what I have got here is the basic ‘Jam’ model, I have noticed it has caught some heads in the car park including mine. There is a refreshing lack of chrome, the distinctive Vauxhall face and LED lights, and even the line on the side which appears on the Astra GTC. Undoubtedly a fantastic looking car on the outside even in base spec, but how does it fare inside?
Stepping inside, and thank god Vauxhall hasn't fallen into the trap of making a carbon copy of its interiors from the line-up. The Adam wants to be different, and that has translated brilliantly into the interior. Not only is it modern and funky, but it is well built; everything is made to last without the rugged look. It is worth spending no more than £300 for a brilliant 7 inch touch screen infotainment system co-developed by Apple. It allows you to sync your iPhone to download apps for the car; including a sat-nav system. Of course, be aware that this uses your phones precious mobile internet data allowance, so it may only be suitable if you have unlimited internet. Other gadgets include a blind spot system in the door mirrors, self-parking (it does the steering, you do the pedals) and a really good climate control. You only have to look at the fact the only music option is iPod or DAB to tell the Adam has its cute rounded eyes fixed on the younger generation. Pray the younger generation don’t carry much around with them then; including people…
So we have established that the Adam is a wonderful place to sit, no signs of cost cutting anywhere. But what happens when you have a lad’s night out? Two go in the back of course. But let’s just hope two of your pals have had their legs amputated; rear leg room is laughably tiny. Almost pointlessly tiny. For sure, it’s good enough if you make the front seats (themselves very comfy indeed) go right forward, but then all four people will not be entirely comfy. Consider how much your rear seats get used before thinking about an Adam. Similarly, the boot is small. It’s got a great width and depth to it, but the length means you’ll struggle to get two rows of shopping bags in there. Fold the seats down, and the capacity shoots to nearly 500 litres, but the seats do not fold flat and they do leave a bump; aka not creating a level floor for large items that need to be slid in.
But all of that is missing the point completely, they would be valid negatives if this were to be an Insignia or Astra, but Vauxhall would have had to make a Tardis to avoid that. But what about driving? Well the engine line up at the moment is what Vauxhall is describing as ‘Tried and Tested’. Or just old. They are old engines, however this doesn’t reflect on refinement; they are silky smooth and fairly quiet. What it does mean though is that the Adam is not on par with its rivals when it comes to fuel efficiency. While VW are making the Up dip below the 100g tax free zone, Vauxhall’s 1.2 in the Adam emits a shoulder-shrugging 118g/km. Don’t get me wrong, that still won’t burn a hole in your pocket but as frugality is one of the city car drivers main priorities, some fresher engines are needed. Luckily, that is exactly what is happening with a sparky 3 cylinder arriving later.
As soon as you join any road with multiple lanes, you quickly notice how much the Adam needs another gear. At 3200rpm at the motorway speed limit, this definitely does not feel like a place it enjoys being, but perhaps it’s needed because when you pull out to overtake and put your foot down, you do question whether the pedal is linked to the engine as nothing happens in the way of acceleration. This can be justified by its pedestrian 14.9 0-60 time, but this would be acceptable if Adam had a lot of low rev response. It doesn’t. Which means you’ll end up taking it past 4000rpm even on normal getaways, resulting with your MPG averaging in the mid 30’s. The 1.4 can solve this problem in 100bhp guise, but this still suffers from the gearing issues. The ride though is good with little jiggle and just a hint of classic small car body roll. If breaking your spine is something you enjoy doing though, those 18” wheels are just ready to be ticked. Visibility is OK, but the massive C pillar does give a big blind spot. The sensors are worth the tick.
To be fair to the Adam, I decided to take it to the city and here it all made sense. The high seating position. The city steering. The under-powered yet quiet engine. The Adam was born to live here, it’s self-parking born to make those shopping car parks a breeze, the short gearing born to nip through open spaces in traffic with its dinky dimensions. And of course, the head turning looks are there to become the centre of attention while it is sat there in the dirty multi-story car park. Suddenly, the Adam transformed into an almost perfect car. In city traffic, I had more time to appreciate just how much detail had been put into the Adam’s interior. For example, the ambient lighting has eight different colours to choose from. The stars on the roof have different brightness settings, and the 7” touch screen just have the most gorgeous graphics. Please remember this a £10k car we are talking about here.
Had I just done out of town driving, I would have been fairly disappointed about the Adams fuel and gearing issues, but here right now in the city, it has cast a spell on me and charmed me with it’s cute looks. A brilliant car for many, a terrible car for a few.
Vauxhall Adam 1.2 Jam Reviewed by Jack Cooper on 13:28 Rating: