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.

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