First drive: the new Vauxhall Adam
We drive the sportiest version of Vauxhall’s new city car. It’s called the ‘Slam’…
Posted: 06 Nov 2012
The Vauxhall Adam Slam? 'Slam'? Really?
Oh yes. Slam is the topmost, sportiest trim level on Vauxhall's Mini-rivalling new city car, closely followed by Glam - 'mature and elegant', apparently - and Jam, which is 'really funky'. Top Gear eagerly awaits the 'Ham', 'Clam' and 'Andrew Ridgeley Formerly Of Wham' trim levels.
There's more. Much more. If you're so inclined, you can have your Adam with a contrast-coloured floating roof in - and I quote - 'White My Fire' (that's white) or 'I'll Be Black' (that's black). Or how about some 'Splat' graphics in 'Red'n'Roll'?
Wow indeed. It's all part of Vauxhall's programme to make the Adam the most personalisable - yeah, it's a word - car in the history of ever. Colour-coded alloys, contrast wing mirrors, even a clouds-and-blue-sky cabin headlining, they're all available, allowing you to make your Adam like literally no other. For better or worse.
So how does it drive?
Very nicely, as neatly as you could wish from a dinky city car. No, it's not as entertaining as a Mini - blame the Adam's torsion beam rear suspension where BMW's baby has a posh multi-link set-up - but it feels a little more sophisticated than the oft-bouncy Fiat 500. Sure, the Adam gets a bit unsettled over big bumps, but what more can you expect from a short wheelbase urban runabout?
Erm, cheeky little petrol engines?
Check. We drove the mid-range 85bhp 1.4-litre petrol - there's a 97bhp version of the same engine and an entry level 68bhp 1.2 petrol available too, all of which manage over 50mpg and dip below 120g/km of CO2 - and it felt decently peppy without ever veering into genuine sportiness. Even so, the Adam is a cheery thing to punt around town, with quickish steering and a decent amount of grip.
Not a Nürburgring weapon, though?
Not at all, but that's not the point in the Adam. This car is all about getting big car toys in a tiny package, and on that front it delivers. Even the basest Adams - which start at £11,255 - come with alloy wheels, DAB radio, cruise control and a bit of leather. Delve into the options list and you can have an Adam that parks itself, with a classy infotainment system that'll hook up to a dedicated Vauxhall sat-nav app on your iPhone. Properly clever stuff, and smartly executed too.
So it doesn't feel cheap?
No. A lot of city cars attempt to achieve 'funkiness' - dread word - by gluing a few garish lumps of plastic atop their dull plastic dashes. Not the Adam. Provided you stay away from the lairiest end of the options list - foil-finish dash, anyone? - the cabin feels thoroughly upmarket and coherent, while avoiding the wilful obtuseness of the current crop of Minis.
But Mini has the whole Swinging Sixties thing to fall back on...
Indeed. Vauxhall's biggest problem may be the lack of a cutesy city car in its heritage: both Mini and Fiat's offerings trade heavily off the back of their retro icons. But Audi has managed the premium, personalised city-thing with the A1 - albeit at a higher price point - without a bug-eyed supermini in its back catalogue, and the Adam is unquestionably an interesting thing to behold.
Interesting good or interesting bad?
Good, we think. It might look a little derivative in photos, but - specced with restraint, at least - the Adam is a smart little car. Our favourite colour combo is a black body with off-white roof, which makes the Adam look like a happy pint of Guinness.
Who doesn't want to drive around in a happy pint of Guinness?
Exactly. If you can handle the whole Glam/Slam/Splat branding stuff, this is a well-priced, well-built, posh little city car worthy of your consideration. And, best of all, there's an all-electric version on the way.
Yep. It's called the eDam.