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 takes the fight to a new breed of premium superminis like the Fiat 500, Citroen DS3, Audi A1 and, of course, the MINI. It has the looks to compete, too - Vauxhall hasn't followed the retro approach of its rivals, but instead opted for cute styling for an overall look that's not unlike a smaller A1. The Adam is priced well, as are the myriad options you can choose form – there are 30,000 combinations in total. There’s not much space inside but the quality is top notch. However, the drive isn’t especially exciting, the ride errs on the firm side (especially if you opt for the larger wheels) and the steering lacks feel.
Our choice: Adam 1.4 Jam
Vauxhall’s design team have avoided comparisons with the MINI and Fiat 500 by going for a more modern look, not unlike a slightly smaller Audi A1. It works well, too, incorporating the latest version of Vauxhall’s family face, including winged grille and over-sized Griffin badge, as well as distinctive LED running lights. There’s even the familiar blade creases in the doors, just like on the Astra GTC. With a wide combination of (oddly named) colours and contrasting roof colours, the Adam is all about personalisation, inside and out.
The Adam’s sporty looks aren’t translated into an especially sporty drive. There’s plenty of grip and a firm ride, but the steering offers next to no feedback of what’s happening to the front tyres. On the plus side, it is quick and light, which helps on busy city streets. Then there’s the engines, which Vauxhall describes as tried and tested. Or old. They’re plodders with little sparkle, although they are reasonably refined. Thankfully, a more characterful 1.0 three-cylinder engine will join the line-up soon.
Vauxhall’s standing in the Driver Power owner satisfaction survey has risen greatly over the past 12 months, finishing a decent 13th in the 2012 results - up from 29th in 2011. That’s born from efforts to improve the dealer network as much as the reliability of the cars themselves. Vauxhall also has its lifetime warranty to take care of anything that does go wrong, as long as your car is cared for properly and doesn’t cover starship mileages. Safety-wise, the Adam comes complete with a full roster of airbags, plus plenty of electronic intervention systems to keep you safe. It hasn't yet been crash tested by Euro NCAP, but it is expected to receive a full five-star rating.
Don’t buy a Vauxhall Adam for practicality and you won’t be disappointed. While there’s plenty of space for the driver and front passenger - including plenty of cubby holes and cup holders - things aren’t so rosy in the rear. Getting in is okay with seats that slide forward, but head and legroom is tight for small adults and probably just about okay for children. Likewise, the boot is deep and wide but not very long. Although the seats fold, they leave a large step in the boot floor. In short, the boot is best for occasional use only.
Where MINIs, Audi A1s and Citroen DS3s all have models that dip below the 100g/km mark, the lowest the Adam goes is 118g/km. All three engines (the two 1.4s and the 1.2) deliver broadly similar average economy of around 55mpg, which isn’t especially good these days. However, Vauxhall is refusing to fit a diesel engine on the grounds of cost – it doesn’t think buyers want or need it. Other running costs should be reasonable, especially with Vauxhall’s ground-breaking lifetime warranty providing peace of mind.