Vauxhall Adam 1.4 Slam

4 Jan, 2013 6:15pm Luke Madden

The Vauxhall Adam has already impressed, but now we drive the new MINI rival as it hits UK roads


It's going to be tough for Vauxhall to take on the MINI and Fiat 500 head-on, but based on this UK drive, we can see absolutely no reason for the Adam not to succeed. It’s at least a match for its rivals in the style stakes, and betters both when it comes to standard equipment. The Adam’s handling isn’t quite up to the MINI’s and Fiat’s TwinAir engine is much better, but in almost every other respect Vauxhall has got it spot-on.

With its bright colours, quirky name and endless personalisation options, the Vauxhall Adam is clearly aimed squarely at the Fiat 500 and the MINI. And now the first cars have begun to arrive in the UK, we’ve had a chance to find out exactly what Vauxhall is hoping will make the car stand out.

On the streets of London, the Adam turned heads in a way that its rivals simply can’t now they’re so common. The low-set grille, floating roofline and elegant C-pillar all play a part in helping the car fit right into a category where style is all-important.

Our car is a range-topping Slam model, so it gets 17-inch alloy wheels as standard, along with front and rear LED lights and a two-tone paintjob. But by Adam standards, this is still actually quite plain.

Vauxhall offers a choice of 20 alloy wheel designs. Then there’s the creatively named and vivid palette of colours, ranging from I’ll Be Black to James Blonde, which can be paired with a white, black or body-coloured roof.

The same goes for the interior, which comes with body-coloured inserts and a choice of three headliners. Soft-touch plastics on the dashboard and chunky switches help create the feel of a premium product, but the hard plastics on top of the door panels are a little disappointing.

Space is also a letdown. The 171-litre boot is tiny, and the rear seats are cramped for anyone approaching six feet tall. On the plus side, the £275 Intellink system is fantastic, incorporating an easy-to-use touchscreen in the centre console.

On the road, the Adam does a perfectly good job as a city car, with nippy acceleration at low speeds and quick, darty handling that’s far better than the Fiat 500’s. However, even with our Slam’s firmer standard sports suspension, the car isn’t as much fun as a MINI.

We’d love to pull a TwinAir engine out of Fiat’s 500 and stick it under the bonnet of the Adam, because the 86bhp 1.4-litre petrol we tested was a bit short on character. It’ll also cost more to run. Even our stop-start-equipped car managed only 55.4mpg and 119g/km. In contrast, the 500 TwinAir claims 68.9mpg and 95g/km.

With prices starting from £11,255, the Adam sits in between the cheaper Fiat and the more expensive MINI. Its trump card – apart from the impressive tech and endless options – is its very generous standard equipment. Even basic Jam models come with air-con, central locking, Bluetooth, alloy wheels, DAB, cruise control and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

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You can buy a nice bigger roomy Chevy Cruze for the price, why suffer in a cramped up £13,750 Adam?

If looks alone could sell a car then Vauxhall would have a winner with Adam. But someone needs to tell its GM bosses that there's more to a car than mere looks.
Adam's rivals Mini, Citroen DS3, Fiat 500 and the 3-door Audi A1 all have talented zero road tax engines to go with the cars' great looks.
All that Adam has on offer is the old 1.2L and 1.4L motors lifted from Corsa.

I just can't learn to like this car.

I don't like they way they've blatantly stolen designs from rivals, with the bits Vauxhall have designed looking incoherent and awkward. Also, the rear quarter looks a hell of a lot like the MK1 Ford KA.

The engines are dated, the cabin is quite generic and it's
a Vauxhall. It has less character, perceived premium quality, heritage, value for money or badge appeal than all its rivals. It shouldn't do well with such a daft name, but probably will.

You are saying what everybody else is thinking, Vauxhall are always a bit Johnny come lately to the party. I would rather see something practical very reliable boxy roomy Susuki Wagon R Agila that sells for half the price of an Adam. It's back in Japan much better than the Splash.

You can't say that about the name Adam, Adam Opel was the founder of Opel back in 1837.

I know - it's still a stupid name for a car and no man would want to be seen dead riding in Adam...

Let's hope we don't have other brands following their lead or we'll have the Ford Henry, Renault Louis and Volkswagen Ferdinand.

They were trying to copy the use of Enzo at Ferrari, it just doesn't work with Vauxhall. I'm sure Adam Opel would be turning in his grave.

If the car looked sleek, techno-futuristic, and leading edge, they could get away with anything, even Adam.

Pity it's dull as ditchwater. Shame.

LOL very funny they all sound very silly, your right again.

Adam Opel probably would turn in his grave at the mess GM and the big money Opel are losing today.

Why do GM needs so many small cars? Small cars are very hard to make any profit on, Mini and the Fiat 500 can ask the premium prices, but l just can't see anybody would want to pay big money for an Adam. If sells at a much lower Ford Ka price then it might win a few buyers.

I agree. I think Vauxhall would have been wiser to produce a charactetful VW Up/Aygo rival with a tiny turbo engine than an expensive, cramped, crappily named, ugly, half hearted attempt at rivalling the deservedly well established and big selling 500, Mini, DS3, A1 and Mito. It doesn't sit well with the brand which I thought was about providing no frills, reasonably priced, decent looking, every day A-Z transport for the masses. Don't think the car really does any of this...

The 500 and Mito are very individual yet have quintessentially Italian characters, while the DS3 is very French-chic.

The Mini is very British retro (well...), and the A1 has bucket loads of upmarket Germanic quality.

They all fit the bill perfectly. Just what is the Adam trying to achieve? What is its USP?

It looks so dated.

Looks? I am afraid I have to disagree. This vehicle is Aunty Nelly trying to keep up with her great niece by applying too much makeup and shortening her skirts too much. So much so that she is in danger of appearing to have joined the ranks of a certain profession.
More the car of a tart than a trendy I fear!

That's a bit harsh! Its not too bad in the looks department. Where it really falls short is the engines in my humble opinion.

What a lot of negative comments. I agree with the point from one poster about the engines not being as competitive as they could be and I think the prices on the mid and top level models are bit daft - just like the name.
At the end of the day though I think its quite a perky looking small car inside and out, and going by the review a pretty good drive. Be interesting to see how well it sells. Probably very well I imagine.

Waaaay too expensive and not very good. Giving all the extras quirky names is no substitute. The competition has nothing to worry about.

If this car had just the Opel badge, no one would be sticking the boot in.Infact they would probably be praising it up to the hilt.

Most people believe what lazy English Journos tell them.
The country is full of sheep..

I agree with the part of your posting about lazy English Journos and sheep like responses. Also, if it were sold as an Opel the "Adam" bit would not sound as silly. Why, if the Astra could be sold as the Kadett when it is an Opel, could not the same sort of thing be done in this case?
However it is still a rather over tarted up and derivatively styled machine that manages to have less luggage space than one of it's inspirations, the FIAT 500. As for the driving experience we only have the aforesaid journos to go on so those interested should await a test drive rather than rely on that source or "Wetherspoons Wisdom".

For a car which is very definitely aimed at the young, it just looks like a pensioner's buy! (They will probably go for the Jam version, not the bread and butter model.)

Opel's Edsel!

"Small cars are very hard to make profit on"? Where do you get this information!? What absolute tosh! Look how many small cars are on the road. Look how Fiat Made the Fiat 500, Cinquecento, Seicento and current Fiat 500, Look at PSA Citroen, Peugeot and Toyota who make the 107, Aygo and C1. I think you should think twice before you can say small cars dont make any profit.

It's a Vauxhall! What can anyone expect? Surely not a decent car? Old engines, 5 speed gearboxes.

Are Chevrolet bringing a version out too? Im guessing this car will have over assisted steering with a clunky gearchange, But I could be wrong...

Don't you just hate it when car companies copy each other? I mean, round wheels? We've seen it all before!

This the reason why they make premium superminis with massive options lists, to boost profits.

But Fiesta and Corsa etc do make big profits because of the volume of sales. The Sandero highlights how much profit these other brands make by selling a perfectly competitive (and crucially, still profitable) European car for about £4k less than mainstream rivals

This car is like seeing your grandad in jeans and trainers. Vauxhall just trying to hard. Over-priced and over-styled

Key specs

  • Price: £13,770
  • Engine: 1.4-litre 4cyl, 86bhp
  • Transmission: Five-speed manual, front-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 12.5 seconds
  • Top speed: 110mph
  • Economy: 55.4mpg
  • CO2: 119g/km
  • Equipment: Cruise and climate control, Bluetooth, LED lights
  • On sale: Now