Vauxhall Adam

6 Nov, 2012 (All day) Paul Bond

We drive the exciting new Vauxhall Adam city car, which mixes stylish looks with fun driver appeal


The Adam is a smart and fun-filled city car. It’s exciting to drive with a bold image that takes in-car customisation and gadgets to new heights for this market – so there’s plenty here to praise. But the cramped rear and lack of a sub-100g/km model could put off buyers who are already spoiled for choice. Still, the Adam is well priced against its competitors if you don’t go mad on the options, and deserves to be a success.

Naming a car after the boss of the company worked out well for Ferrari, with the Enzo – but will it be a similar success story for the Adam? It’s named after the founder of Vauxhall’s sister company, Adam Opel, and it’s predicted that over half of Adam buyers will be new to Vauxhall.

The stakes are high for this car, then – and the competition is fierce. The aim with the Vauxhall Adam was to take on retro rivals like the Fiat 500 and MINI, while offering an interesting alternative to the straight-laced Audi A1.

There’s a choice of three petrol engines: a 69bhp 1.2-litre and a 1.4-litre with 86bhp or 99bhp. All come with a five-speed manual gearbox and the option of stop-start – and as a result they emit between 119g/km and 129g/km of CO2 and claim to return fuel economy of well over 50mpg.

We tested a 99bhp 1.4-litre model with stop-start. It doesn’t sound like a recipe for driving thrills, and we were worried it would feel sluggish with its official 0-60mph time of 11.5 seconds. But on the road, the keen engine thrives on revs and gives the Adam an eager, nippy character.

Our test model was a top-spec Slam – it sits above the Jam and Glam in the range – and featured sports suspension and optional 18-inch alloy wheels, so it resisted body roll well in corners.

But the biggest surprise was the well weighted steering and brakes, which give you the confidence to chuck the Adam around like the best city cars. This set-up makes for quite a firm ride, but crucially it’s never uncomfortable – even over large bumps in the road.

In contrast to its competitors, there’s nothing nostalgic in the Adam’s design. There are clear nods to the rest of the Vauxhall line-up – with the familiar creases in the doors from the Astra GTC giving the car a sporty stance – but details like the contrasting floating roof and slim bonnet-mounted headlights are unique to the Adam.

The new car looks a bit like a miniature A1, but the quirky styling is designed to be a blank canvas that buyers can then personalise however they want to. The three trim levels use themes that can be upgraded with a vast array of options to suit each owner’s personal taste.

Standard kit is very generous whichever model you go for, and even the cheapest Adam gets 16-inch alloy wheels, air-con, a DAB radio, Bluetooth and cruise control. Given that prices start at just £11,255, that makes the car good value, and also puts it well within the reach of the younger buyers Vauxhall is targeting.

Our Adam Slam was at the other end of the scale, with such a broad variety of optional extras that the price had risen to an eye-watering £18,655. That puts it in the same bracket as a well kitted-out MINI Cooper or A1 S line – and the Vauxhall’s interior is a match for both of these cars in terms of quality and design.

Stunning details like the thick-rimmed leather steering wheel and deep-cowled silver dials are a world away from the flimsy plastics we’re used to in the Corsa. Audi-style rotary switches for the climate control and coloured panels ensure the Adam has the wow factor.

But the real highlight inside is the new IntelliLink infotainment system. This great-value £275 option is available on all models and brings a seven-inch hi-res touchscreen that allows owners to connect their Android or Apple smartphones via USB. They can then do everything from listen to music to view photos and even watch videos when the car is stationary. As on the new Renault Clio’s R-Link system, there are downloadable apps, too, including a full sat-nav and radio podcast app, with more to follow shortly after the launch. We tried it with an iPhone and the system worked well, with the layout proving intuitive and the screen responsive.

Our criticisms? Well, like the MINI the Adam is short on space, and the 171-litre boot and cramped rear mean it can carry four people only on shorter trips. Those clambering into the back will also notice the build quality deteriorates the further you get from the driver. And as our pricey test model proves, if you get carried away with options, personalising your perfect Adam can be an expensive business.

Vauxhall has put a lot into this car, and it shows. But only time will tell whether people will buy into the Adam brand as they have with the 500 and MINI.

Disqus - noscript

It might not be "retro" but it is certainly derivative. I can recognise bits of A.1/Ibiza and DS3 in it but, to my mind, it resembles most closely the 500 and is nearer in size to the latter.
Good to see cruise control is standard, again al la DS3, as it should be on anything with "premium" aspirations. Audi and Mini please note.
But aren't the trim names ludicrous!

£18,655 ? hahahahahaha

Looks like a pram.

Looks like the bastard child of a DS3/500 "Knee Trembler" behind a pub in Blackpool! £18,655, a joke, surely, you could get a "proper" car for that.

All very well but.... the name? With all respect to the illustrious founder of Opel, does anyone really want to drive an Adam? Or a Basil / Clive/ Herbert /John/ Willy/ Pretty much any men's name you can think of? Nissan had a Cedric, some years ago and I am sure that its failure to take the market by storm was as much a function of the unfortunate name as of the mediocrity of the vehicle itself

Erm, Old engines, 5sp box, noddy car looks, nearly £20k? Surely you wouldn't put £20k of your own money into a Vauxhall supermini? This will be massively discounted and a huge flop.

You could buy a Golf or similar for that

The VX knockers are out in force.

My Wife has had numerous cars.

Her last was an Ibiza.Loads of niggly faults.

She has had her first Vauxhall (corsa) 4 Years.

Never let her down and has now done over 40,000 miles
If all VX cars were badged as Opel, we would be singing their praises.
The Brits love to stick the boot in themselves.

it looks like an update of the MK1 Ford KA,

Sweet will sell though, and at least you will not have to worry about the steering wheel coming off in your hand as you would do in a Fiat (sorry if that's a bit 70/80's).

18 gran for a mini vauxhall, really?

As a long term MINI owner I'm keen to try this Adam. On face value it looks interesting, though I'm disappointed that I would have to go back to a 5 speed gearbox and I really struggle with the names they've given the trim levels!
As a long legged, big footed driver the MINI is the only one of this type of vehicle which offers me more than enough room and adjustment at the wheel, so I'll have to see how Vauxhall have done in this respect. I'm also concerned about the resale values: The DS3 had amazing 'predicted' values but they haven't been realised in reality, so maybe this Adam would be best bought nearly new.

This vehicle is about as British as the Chrysler Ypsilom is American.

The A1, Mito, DS3 and Fiat 500 all have distinct design identities of their own but this comes across as a bit 'me too'. it looks like they have tried to combine all of the above in one car in an attempt to appeal to all their potential buyers which I can't see being too successful. Looking at it in isolation though it seems pretty good and certainly offers good value for money even if it isn't exactly cutting edge.

It is UGLY but then so is the MINI it looks like a pimped A1 YUK

The dash look like a 50 american gas guzzler

Autoexpress: " on the road, the keen engine thrives on revs and gives the Adam an eager, nippy character."

Autocar: "The 1.4-litre engine is okay, but nothing special. It sounds a mite thrashy and performance feel is no better than average."

Autoexpress: "But the biggest surprise was the well weighted steering and brakes, which give you the confidence to chuck the Adam around like the best city cars."

Autocar: "The steering, aided by a rather false feeling of sharpness off the straight-ahead, gives an initial feeling of agility, but it doesn’t feel very sophisticated or responsive dead-ahead. ... the brakes were flaccid, lacking initial bite in energetic use".

Autoexpress: "like the MINI the Adam is short on space, and the 171-litre boot and cramped rear mean it can carry four people only on shorter trips."

Autocar: "Inside, it’s impressively roomy and access to the rear seats is more convenient than most in the class."

Both car tested were Adam 1.4 Slams. How on earth can these two magazines conclude so differently?

A minimum CO2 output of 119g/km is disgraceful in a car of this size. Even an Audi A3 can get 109, and most superminis will have at least one model under 100 (so free road tax). Why does Vauxhall always seems to be 10 years behind everyone else?

If it wasn't for the fleet and rental companies they'd be long gone...


witness the fastest depreciating caar in history! why would anyone buy this over a Fiat 500 for less than half the money. More like I can't Adam and Eve it!


My point exactly.
if this was badged Opel , the negative comments would be far less.
Thats why we have no British owned car industry.
Twenty years ago the French and italian cars were just as poorly built. But it was allways MG/Rover and Vauxhall that the British media loved to hate.

I rather like this car and my experience of GM products has always been positive so the brand would not put me off. The price, however, is a little bit of a challenge - this sector of 'style before function super-minis' is very hotly contested and this new car may find it tough to compete unless it offers something different to the rest.

Well Vauxhall has not been UK controlled since around 1926 and the vehicle presently under consideration is not, as far as I am aware, assembled in this country. I have no animus against Vauxhalls and know of no-one who has had a bad experience with them.
Arguably the reason why we have no British owned car industry is that it assumed that they had only to wave the flag and buyers would come running. I did that once myself and the result was an Austin Metro, which was the worst car I have ever owned.

Had an Opel Astra Estate 1.6 LS which went like a whippet and covered 100k+ trouble-free miles before a truck squashed it one icy night. However, the Adam looks like a Noddy reject, more's the pity.

You could buy a real car for 18 grand!

19K and less than 100bhp, you must be kidding me?

Well, money buys the Mini, the DS, Fiat 500 and some will buy this as well! True the average Dealer won't know what to do with it!

French and Italian cars got utterly hammered by the press 20 years ago. Why else do you think that Lancia left the UK? PSA and Renault would both have gone the way of MG Rover had it not been for the French government propping them up.

Skoda does a Superb Estate with 116g/km - and you'd fit an Adam into the boot.

Yes the car they reviewed cost £18k, but its the very top level trim with every possible option maxed out (as he clearly states in the review).

I went and configured one on the Vauxhall site. I just chose the bottom end trim ("Jam") with the 100bhp engine and added Reversing Sensors, Climate Control, Touch Screen media system, 7-speakers, black body pack (wheels, roof, wing mirrors, interior decals etc.), cup holder and even changed the colour of the logo bar to black and it came to a grand total of £13,470.

For just under £13.5k you get a lot of car (especially considering the standard leather trim, multi-function wheel and cruise control) - its several grand cheaper than the equivilent Audi A1. People in their late teens and twenties will love this car and it'll sell well. Cheap, well built, fashionable; it ticks all the right boxes, as long as people stop being a snob about the badge on the front.

no automatic in a city car? major fail !

Key specs

  • Price: £18,655 (as tested)
  • Engine: 1.4-litre 4cyl petrol
  • Power: 99bhp
  • Torque: 130Nm
  • 0-60mph: 11.5 seconds
  • Top speed: 115mph
  • Economy: 55.4mpg
  • CO2: 119g/km
  • Equipment: Sports seats, cruise and climate control, DAB, Bluetooth
  • On sale: Now