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The Top Gear car review: Vauxhall Adam
For:Modern styling, decent enough to drive, the sheer configurability
Against:Engines aren't the most modern
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What we say:
Would you Adam and Eve it: a stylish city car from Vauxhall - with the Fiat 500 and Mini in its sights
What is it?
Vauxhall is late to the city car party. Very late. So how to get a shoo-in to one of the UK’s most popular new car sectors? Why, take on the Mini with an all-new premium-priced three-door, that’s how. Bold? You bet. But here it is – a posh three-door city car based on a cut-down Corsa platform and sharing nothing with Vauxhall’s other dreadfully dull contender in this sector, the Agila. It’s been designed to offer Mini-like personalisation (more than a million configurations, reckons Vauxhall) and both the spec sheet and the marketing for the Adam are decidedly ‘lifestyle’.
Ah yes, the name. Adam. It makes more sense in Germany, where Opel founder Herr Opel’s first name was Adam. Here, it’s just a bit, well, odd, although you can’t deny it does give the car character.
The Corsa is getting on but isn’t a bad car, meaning it’s a good base to start the Adam from. It’s more than competent enough, and a sight better than the at-times uncouth Fiat 500. A Mini is still a better though, thanks to that BMW-derived rear suspension. The Adam has sensibly been tuned for ride comfort rather than out-and-out handling (it means even 18-inch alloys are tolerable) but, with quickish steering and good front-end grip, it’s neat enough. 1.2-litre and 1.4-litre petrol engines are familiar too. They’re a bit raw now, but work well enough in their natural environment. Peppy rather than powerful, we’d take the 1.4 87, which strikes the best price-power balance, but there’s not much in it.
There’s no diesel: Vauxhall isinstead has a whizzy new 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol producing up to 115bhp, but also emitting as little as 114g/km CO2. It’s well worth the price premium.
On the inside
The Adam is impressive inside. High-quality bespoke-look dash, built to a high standard? Check. High level of standard and optional kit, including smartphone docking? Yup. Space for four (not five) and a decent boot? You bet. But it’s the fact you can make almost every part of it bespoke that’s really amazing. You can even choose a ‘clouds and sky’ rooflining (yes, really) if you want. Or take a Rolls-Royce Phantom-style ‘starlight’ option. Or… well, you really need a brochure and a long weekend to pile through them all.
No, it’s not the cheapest city car, but it’s very distinctive and, for many, that’s all that matters. Funky enough to overcome the rather unfunky Vauxhall badge? Here’s hoping. It comes with all the usual Vauxhall traits of multiple dealers, low running costs and a cracking warranty. Pity the engines aren’t a bit greener - and only a four-star Euro NCAP score? Oops.