Vauxhall Adam review
The Vauxhall Adam has the style to compete with the MINI and A1, but it lacks a little driving sparkle
The Vauxhall Adam has been designed to rival the growing number of upmarket superminis on sale, such as the MINI, Fiat 500, Audi A1 and Citroen DS3. But instead of following the retro route popularised by Fiat and MINI, Vauxhall has given the Adam a fresh, modern look similar to the baby Audi. Good-value pricing and a massive range of personalisation features also count in the Adam's favour, but on the downside it's a bit cramped inside and not very involving to drive. The steering also feels a bit numb and rough UK roads show up the car's harsh ride quality.
Our choice: Adam 1.4 Jam
Chic superminis tend to look either fresh and modern – like the Audi A1 and Citroen DS3 – or inspired by classic models – such as the Fiat 500 and MINI. Vauxhall has gone for the modern approach, featuring the company's latest front-end design language with a prominent 'Griffin' badge and unmissable LED running lights. Like the handsome three-door Astra GTC coupe, the Adam gets blade creases along doors. Funky bright colours and option of painting the roof a different shade to the rest of the car gives buyers the opportunity to really put a personal stamp on their Adam.
Although the Vauxhall Adam looks quite fun and sporty, 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. At launch, the Adam features a range of dated engines already seen in the Corsa supermini, which doesn't help matters at all. 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. A forthcoming 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol should help bring the Adam driving experience up to date.
Vauxhall has improved its ranking in our Driver Power owner satisfaction survey over the last year. It rose from being 29th-place manufacturer in 2011 to finish 13th in the table in 2012. That jump is down to better service from dealers as much as improvements to its model range, and Vauxhall also offers a 'lifetime' warranty to the first owner of any of its cars. 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 superminis. 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, respectively.
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 seats 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 floor.
The Vauxhall Adam doesn't quite match its rivals in this area, either. MINI, Audi and Citroen all offer tax-exempt sub-100g/km models in their line-ups, but the best the Adam can manage is 118g/km. The engine range is made up of a single 1.2-litre petrol and two 1.4-litre petrols, but all offer similar average fuel economy of around 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 aforementioned long-term warranty and a low insurance group keeps other running costs under control, though.