14 Nov 2013

Vauxhall/Opel ADAM Review

Matt Hubbard reviews the 2013 Vauxhall Adam - Vauxhall's entrant into the premium supermini sector

Vauxhall Opel Adam

Vauxhall Adam.  Funny name.  Do you like it?  Not sure if I do.  In Europe it's called the Opel Adam which kind of makes sense because the founder of Opel was called Adam Opel.

How about the car, do you like the look of it?  I do, but not necessarily in Flaming Yellow.  Red, or Red n'Roll as Vauxhall calls it, is a little less shouty.

As you probably know by now the Adam comes in three trim levels, with Vauxhall's own descriptions in brackets - Adam Jam (fashionable/colourful) – Adam Glam (elegant/sophisticated) and Adam Slam (racy/sporty).

Then we get a ton of other choices - 1.2i or 1.4i EcoFlex engines, 12 body colours, 15 seat designs, 20 alloy wheel styles, three headliners and 18 interior panel schemes.

The test car was an Adam SLAM with the 1.4i 16v engine, which produces 87 bhp and 96 lb ft and returns 55.4mpg.  It also came with a Slam extreme pack at £995, Intellilink at £275, tyre pressure monitoring at £250, winter pack at £215, a £100 printed headliner and a VXR styling pack at £250.

Of those options the Intellilink is a must and the headliner is a worthwhile investment.  Everything else is down to individual choice.
Vauxhall / Opel Adam

But let's get down to the meat of the matter.  What's the Adam like?

The shape is a subjective matter.  Front to back it's quite short, and the roofline is quite high.  The floating roof polarises opinion.  My 11 year old son thought it was cool, my wife not so.  The wheels fill the arches well and the overall shape is pretty successful.  There's perhaps too much chrome on it for me.

Slide inside and you find plenty of room in the front.  The manually adjustable seats are comfortable and supportive and the steering wheel adjusts for reach and rake.  It's leather trimmed and quite small.  This is a good start.  It feels sporty in your hands.

The pedals are a little too close to the driver - there's plenty of space in the footwell to have made them deeper - but overall the seating position is just fine.

There's space inside for storage aplenty.  The door pockets are large and the cubby hole ahead of the gearstick has a USB connector and is large enough to fit any smartphone.  This is simple and practical - and lacking in many other cars.

Elsewhere in the cabin the dash top is gloriously NOT elephant hide plastic and the yellow and black (other colours are available) trim panel looks great.  It's much better than boring old black plastic and genuinely livens the already quite bright cabin up - the gearstick, part of the steering wheel and handbrake are yellow as are patterns in the seats.

The buttons and knobs feel of decent quality.  The Intellilink system works well, although you never know how hard to press the buttons that are below it.  It's quite a simple system with digital radio and iPhone integration working perfectly.
Vauxhall / Opel Adam interior

What's remiss is a lack of satnav.  Having said that you can download an app called BringGo to your smartphone and the Intellilink acts as a portal and displays the mapping on your screen.

The rear seats are comfortable but there's not exactly a lot of knee room.  My 11 year old could not sit behind me (I'm 5 feet 10) but he could sit behind my wife in the passenger seat.

The boot is small but larger than a Mini's.  I got £100 worth of shopping in there easily enough.  It's flaw is a high lip which, combined with a parcel shelf that doesn't open with the rear hatch, means you can't swing bags into into the boot.  You need to open the shelf before putting anything in it.

So that's the interior.  It's spacious upfront and slightly squashed in the back but really quite a pleasant place to be.

Let's see how the Adam gets on on the road.

The key is a normal key.  Turn it and the engine note is fairly quiet.  It's not unpleasant, in fact it's quite good for a 4 cylinder.

If you've just got in the Adam on a cold winter's morning then the winter pack comes in handy, with heated seats and steering wheel.

The engine has 87 bhp and the car weighs 1120 kg.  It's just about got enough puff to make the Adam fun to drive.  And it really is good fun on the road.
Vauxhall / Opel Adam seats

The steering is light, and can be made lighter via a City Steering button.  The pedals are also fairly light.  The manual gear box is typical Vauxhall, light and easy to use.

Due to its size the Adam is manoeuvrable at speed and for parking - although the C-pillar's size means you won't see much by looking over your shoulder when reversing into a parking space.

The ride is fine, although can be a little harsh on bumpy country roads.  The steering is brilliant.  Initial turn in is good and it grips all round a corner - even in wet conditions.

I read a couple of other reviews of the Adam and both criticised the lack of steering feel.  This is complete rot and obviously comes from the same mindset that says the awful Alfa Giulietta is a good car - i.e. lazy, prejudiced journalism.  It's a hoot on the road.  It feels like a 1st generation Ford Ka -  light and chuckable.

The Adam doesn't understeer when driven enthusiastically.  It turns in rather crisply and flings you out of the corner.  You need this ability in a car with a 1.4 engine, to keep momentum going.

It would do well in autotest competitions where you catapult the car around on a car park between cones to test agility. Coupled with the light gearbox it's easy to drive forward, back, around and about with precision.

On the motorway it cruises fine with some road and engine noise, but not a great deal.  Certainly not any more than you would expect from a £13k car.  It has cruise control which is infuriating the first time you try and make it work, as you slowly lose speed because it's not engaged, but once you've worked it out it becomes second nature.

The decent stereo makes long journeys bearable.  I didn't lose the DAB signal once on a route my own aftermarket digital radio in my Porsche does lose it.  The sound from the speakers is crisp and clear and can be turned up loud without distortion.

Having driven the Adam for a week I've struggled to find anything wrong with it, aside from the high boot lip and lack of satnav.  I've enjoyed using it every day, although the yellow paint doesn't exactly make it the most manly of cars.

Once you get to know it the Adam is a thoroughly likeable car.  Just make sure you choose wisely when first ordering one.  The options and variety of trim can be bewildering.

The range starts at £11,255 for a 1.2i Adam JAM.  This is £1k higher than the MG3, which is a much inferior car.  You can quite easily spec the Adam to cost more than that though.  The Adam SLAM test car cost £13,770 and was loaded with £2,960 worth of options, making the total price £16,730.

The Vauxhall Adam is highly recommended.


Price - £13,770
Engine - 1.4 litre, 4-cylinder, petrol
Transmission - 5-speed manual
0-60mph - 12.5 seconds
Top speed - 109 mph
Power - 87 bhp
Torque - 96 lb ft
Economy - 55.4 mpg
CO2 - 120 g/km
Kerb weight - 1120 kg

Vauxhall / Opel Adam engine

Vauxhall / Opel Adam back seats

Review by Matt Hubbard