Vauxhall Adam review

Our Rating: 
4
4.0/5.0
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The Vauxhall Adam has the style to compete with the MINI and A1, but it lacks a little driving sparkle

For: 
Stylish looks, good price, huge scope for personalisation
Against: 
Lack of space, not as fun to drive as the MINI, dated engines

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The Vauxhall Adam is prime evidence of how the small car market has grown more competitive in recent years. Cheapness, tiny dimensions and fuel economy are no longer enough to make a success of a modern city car, they've got to be trendy, well-specced and desirable too. 

The MINI moved the game on in this regard with its premium retro small car positioning in the supermini segment and Fiat's 500 has done something very similar for the smaller city cars. We now expect pint-sized runabouts like the Volkswagen up!, Smart ForTwo, and Hyundai i10 to deliver big car levels of equipment, sophistication and style. Vauxhall thinks its Adam is up to the job and offers a huge range of personalisation options designed to increase the all-important want-one factor.

The Adam combines fresh modern looks with good-value pricing that's usually supported by a range of finance deals. Trim levels run from entry level Jam through Glam to the fully-loaded Slam. There's also an Adam cabriolet in the pipeline and a hot Adam VXR is confidently expected.

The Adam's upmarket cabin is impressive but space in the rear seats and boot is in short supply, while the driving experience could be sharper. Although the chassis serves up decent amounts of grip, the ride is firm and the numb steering fails to deliver much in the way of driver involvement.   

Our choice: Adam 1.4 Jam

Styling

4.5

There seem to be two ways for the modern city car to go on the styling front, they either try to look modern or retro. In the modern camp we have the likes of the Hyundai i10 and the Volkswagen Group triplets (VW's up!, Skoda's Citigo and SEAT's Mii), on the retro side it's Fiat's 500. 

The Adam is broadly taking the modern approach, featuring the company's latest front-end design language with a prominent Griffin badge and unmissable LED running lights. Having said that, the curves of the roofline and elsewhere on the bodywork do give the Adam something of the cute profile that marks the Fiat 500 out.   

Funky bright colours and option of painting the roof a different shade to the rest of the car give buyers the opportunity to really put a personal stamp on their Adam. We'd always advise buyers to think of the residual values when speccing their car and avoid doing anything too outlandish, though. 

Driving

3.2

The Adam's looks might suggest that it's fun, vibrant and sporty but this isn't borne out when you get behind the wheel. It grips the road well, but he ride quality is too harsh and you get very little feedback from the front wheels through the steering. 

The Adam arrived with a choice of dated engines already seen in the Corsa supermini and these units do little to help matters. Although they will most likely be reliable, they don't offer enough power and torque to make the most of the Adam's light chassis. The forthcoming 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol should help bring the Adam driving experience up to date. 

Reliability

4.1

Vauxhall has not done well in its ranking in our Driver Power owner satisfaction survey recently. It fell from being 13th-place manufacturer in 2012 to finish 26th in the table in 2013. 

Service from dealers and a 'lifetime' warranty to the first owner of any of its cars are still good points for Vauxhall ownership, however. As long as you service your Adam within the Vauxhall dealer network and don't exceed 100,000 miles, you'll be covered for any faults as long as you own the car. 

More worrying is the Vauxhall Adam Euro NCAP score. The testing body gave it just four out of five stars, rather than the five out of five that has become the norm for modern city cars. The car didn't exceed 90 per cent in any of the adult protection areas of the test and recorded disappointing scores of 72 per cent and 65 per cent for pedestrian protection.

Practicality

3

If you're looking for a spacious family car, you're probably better off with a Corsa or Astra than an Adam. There's plenty of room for the driver and front-seat passenger – as well as numerous storage areas and cup-holders – but people sitting in the back will feel distinctly claustrophobic. 

Adults will probably only want to spend short journeys back there, so keep this in mind if you frequently give lifts to friends. Sliding front seats make getting into the rear easy at least, and children should be reasonably happy. The boot is wide and deep, but not very long, and when you fold down the back seats for more space, you're left with a big step in the middle of the load floor.

Don't got for the optional larger stereo system if you need a big boot, as the subwoofer in the back takes up a lot of space.

Running Costs

3.2

The Vauxhall Adam doesn't quite match its rivals in this area, either.  The vast majority of the alternatives offer tax-friendly sub-100g/km models in their line-ups but the best the Adam can manage is 117g/km - a product of the elderly engine range. 

The 1.2-litre petrol and 1.4-litre petrol units all offer similar average fuel economy of around 50 to 55mpg. There's no diesel engine available, as Vauxhall believes it would make the car too expensive and the typical Adam buyer doesn't want or need a diesel. The long-term warranty and a low insurance group keeps other running costs under control though.

Disqus - noscript

My Astra GTC 1.6t struggles to achieve 30mpg...55mpg is pretty impressive, no matter what car it is. Looks decent & will probably sell very well

Doesn't look decent. That's a decent nose, that's a decent glass house and those are decent fenders but when they come together they don't make a decent looking car.

It did strike me that it was possible to identify styling influences from a number of other vehicles. Levent Taskan is surely right to observe that they don't blend well together

I'm confused. The 'First drive' in the magazine refers to the "well-weighted steering and brakes, which give you the confidence to chuck the Adam around...", which seems to be at odds with this test here?

Back end is a dead ringer for a Ford KA mk1, front looks like an ever uglier version of the latest Micra. Combination makes it look awful. To top it off, they call it the Adam...

AE, you have 3 clearly articulated reasons why this could not possibly be a 4-star car. There is something seriously wrong with your judging/grading system.
Against:
No space, lacks dynamic sparkle, engines are dated.

And all the constructive criticism, and acerbic comments, have been deleted, unless you've run the same article in about 3 issues of the online mag. I, earlier, seriously questioned calling a car a 'Slam'. Its also well known jargon for sticking drugs in your arm. Where do the idiot designer/name-givers have their heads??

This car will sell in its millions.

Its young.

Fairly stylish.

And is aimed at the right market.

The only down side is Vauxhalls list price. Get Real.

Erm, how can you award this car 4.5 stars for styling, when its that same styling/design that really shocks the car down to a 2+2? It may be okay to shamelessly plagiarise the design/style from Audi, but does the A1 suffer the same terrible lack of rear [head-room] space? Does some airhead, at Opel, or Vauxhall, really think a Jam or a Slam is trendy/chic/lookatme?? How completely lacking in imagination. And what's with the nonsense of "oh please dont compare me to a Mini or 500"? Hot air from a handicapped designer?? I seriously hope your Govt has signed-off plans to resurrect the Scrapage Plan, because there are going to be tonnes of dead metal round in about 5 years, and not all Adams

Vauxhall got the looks right with Adam but fitting it with old Corsa engines does this car no favours.

Agree - style-free blob that fails on all counts.

You can tell this car is aimed at the young.
it will sell by the shed load.
As for the reviewers complaint of lack of rear space. Has she driven the fiat 500 or Ford Ka?
The problem with the Brits is we listen to lazy British journos with an axe to grind.If this had only been sold under the Opel badge the reviews would have been far more positive. German=better.Nuff said.

It looks like and old Ford Ka! defo needs a rework, Vauxhall should watch out with this one, it could cost them!

I'll second that, Gross oversight on their part!

Yet more Eurojunk! Why anybody buys any of them I do not know.

Significantly, sales of Silver Cross prams have just shown a sudden significant rise. Could it be that Adam owners see the need to match the style of baby carriage to that of their new car?

Kind of a cross between an old Citroen Pluriel and an even older Mk1 Ford Ka with engines and technology from the same era....Avoid!

It looks even sillier in the flesh than in pictures, and there seem to be very few on the road.

Adam Jam Pram!

Now that would look good on the back,same old Vauxhall new Body/styling with old tech.
Probably shift a few due to the 'Options' list
blind fools,save your money there's much better A seg' cars than this and the new Hyundai i10 to come soon.

The velly siri names let it down! Dam shame.

Looks like an 1960s-era pram and about as desirable, at least to this driver.

Others agree, judging by the numbers I've seen on the roads - just two - and one of those was a logo'd up promo car.

Churnalism.

Get real yourself, nobody pays list price for a Vauxhall.

Its a toss up which is more useless, the review or the car itself

I own one of these as a first-time driver. Noisy slightly from outdoor driving. Very light to drive. Not many on road, but when I've been out the car I've been asked about it so people can look into it. Recently I've seen more when I'm on the road and it seems that they're just picking up later than what everyone expected,
Pricey yes. Petrol - thirty five pound takes it up to 3/4 full. Inside is brilliant.

Last updated: 27 Jan, 2014
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