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Car group tests

Vauxhall Adam Grand Slam vs VW Polo BlueGT

Vauxhall’s fastest Adam yet, the 148bhp Grand Slam, takes on the VW Polo BlueGT in a battle for warm hatch honours

When it launched the Adam in 2013, Vauxhall tapped into the premium supermini class with a design-led car that offered a raft of personalisation options. However, while the variety of colours and trims is huge, the engine range has been left wanting... until now.

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The brand added its excellent three-cylinder petrol turbo to the line-up earlier this year, and there’s now a 1.4-litre turbo under the bonnet of the new Adam Grand Slam. Sporty design touches set this flagship apart, but with 148bhp on tap, it’s not quite in the same league as the fastest hot hatches on the market. However, there are still plenty of warm rivals for the Adam Grand Slam to compete against. 

One such model is Volkswagen’s Polo BlueGT. Like the Adam, it has 148bhp, and while the three-door manual car is more expensive than its rival, it’ll be a tough test for the newcomer’s all-round ability.

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So, is the Grand Slam a sporting flagship that matches its racy looks with rapid performance and handling? Or does the BlueGT deliver more convincing performance for your money?

Vauxhall Adam Grand Slam review

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Volkswagen Polo BlueGT review

Click the links above to read individual reviews, and scroll down to see which warm hatch claims top honours in this test...

Head-to-head

Sporty design

These two cars couldn’t be more different in their approaches to sporty styling. The Grand Slam features in-your-face cues, such as a big rear spoiler, 18-inch rims and optional contrast roof colours. And while the Polo BlueGT also gets 18-inch alloy wheels, the subtle exterior tweaks mean it could easily be mistaken for a lower-spec model.

Performance

Both models are powered by 148bhp 1.4-litre turbos, but the Polo posted faster acceleration times on test thanks to its higher torque output. The quick-shifting DSG box also contributed, but as the manual model has the same claimed 0-62mph time, it’s sure to be faster than the Adam, too.

Custom options

VW doesn’t offer much scope for personalisation, but the Adam can be had with red, white, blue or grey exterior trim. Interior parts are available in carbon, aluminium and more. There’s also the £325 Stars headliner, which adds LEDs to the rooflining.

Verdict

1st place: Volkswagen Polo BlueGT

Considering that these two cars are closely matched for power, the difference in performance was surprising. The Polo BlueGT is a great warm hatch, thanks to its involving handling and sharp responses, but it’s also relaxing to drive when you want to take it easy. Add in the efficiency of the ACT petrol engine, and it makes a lot of sense – possibly even more so than the GTI.

2nd place: Vauxhall Adam Grand Slam

The Adam Grand Slam's smaller dimensions meant it was never going to match the Polo’s practicality, but we had high hopes that it would be entertaining to drive. While it’s not as quick as its rival, the firm ride is sporty and the looks will appeal to many, too. Unfortunately, the lack of chassis composure counts against it, and at this price, you can get more for your money elsewhere.

Other options in this category…

MINI Cooper 3dr

Price: £15,450 Engine: 1.5-litre 3cyl, 136bhp

It’s bigger than ever, but the MINI Cooper is still a great supermini choice. The new three-cylinder engine returns 62.8mpg, and it’s one of the best-handling superminis out there, although you’ll soon cancel out the price difference to the Adam by upgrading with MINI’s assorted options.

Abarth 595 Turismo

Price: £17,990 Engine: 1.4-litre 4cyl, 160bhp

Abarth 595 Turismo

The Adam falls between the Abarth 500 and 595 in terms of price, but is slightly ahead of the 500 for performance, while all three cars have a broad range of personalisation options. The 595 matches the Adam’s racy looks and firm ride, but its smaller dimensions mean it’s not quite as practical.

Key specs:

 VW Polo BlueGTVauxhall Adam Grand Slam
On-the-road price/total as tested£19,915/£22,255£16,995/£19,425
Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000)£8,245/41.4%£6,492/38.2%
Depreciation£11,600£10,503
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£634/£1,268£740/£1,479
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,450/£2,417£1,500/£2,500
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost23/£323/B/£2015/£301/E/£130
Servicing costs£16p/m (3yrs)From £15p/m (3yrs)
   
Length/wheelbase3,972/2,470mm3,698/2,311mm
Height/width1,453/1,682mm1,484/1,720mm
Engine4cyl in-line/1,395cc4cyl in-line/1,364cc
Peak power148/5,000 bhp/rpm148/4,900 bhp/rpm
Peak torque250/1,500 Nm/rpm220/2,750 Nm/rpm
Transmission6spd man/fwd6spd man/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel45 litres/full size38 litres/sealant
Boot capacity (seats up/down)280/952 litres170/663 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,238/430/1,200kg1,178/387kg/N/A
Turning circle/drag coefficient10.6 metres10.0 metres
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (60,000)/1yr3yrs (60,000)/1yr
Service intervals/UK dealers10k miles (1yr)/22320k miles (1yr)/404
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.22nd/31st*30th/20th*
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars90/86/41/587/72/65/4
   
0-60/30-70mph7.1/6.9 seconds8.2/8.2 seconds
30-50mph in 3rd/4th2.9/4.0 seconds3.5/5.4 seconds
50-70mph in 5th/6th/7th5.7/7.2/9.1 seconds8.6/6.7 seconds/N/A
Top speed/rpm at 70mph137mph/2,200rpm130mph/2,800rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph49.4/35.7/9.3m48.0/34.3/8.8m
Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph62/41/61/68dB61/46/63/70dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range42.5/9.3/421 miles41.1/9.0/344 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined48.7/68.9/60.1mpg37.2/57.6/47.9mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined10.7/15.2/13.2mpl8.2/12.7/10.5mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket154/108g/km/16%159/139g/km/22%
   
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/cameraFour/yes/£295/£240Six/yes/£275/no
Automatic box/stability/cruise controlYes/yes/yesNo/yes/yes
Climate control/leather/heated seats£380/no/£360Yes/£1,610^/£215
Metallic paint/xenon lights/keyless go£540/£790/no£545/no/no
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/Bluetooth£700/yes/yes/yesApp/yes/yes/yes
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