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Vauxhall Adam

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7/10

Overall
verdict

Surprisingly fresh-faced and good-looking new city car from Vauxhall. Deserves to do well.

Additional Info

  • Modern styling, decent enough to drive, the sheer configurability
  • Top Gear wildcard

    Need five doors and want to spend less than this? How about a Chevrolet Spark? It’s, um, different

  • Our choice

    Adam 1.2 Jam 3d

    Price £11,255

    BHP 70

    LB FT 85

    MPG 53

    CO2 124

    0-62 MPH 14.90

    Top Speed 102

  • Next steps

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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.

Driving

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 is instead rolling out a whizzy new 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol producing up to 115bhp, but also emitting as little as 99g/km CO2. It goes on sale imminently.

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.

Owning

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.

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Latest road tests

4/10 Vauxhall Adam Rocks driven
December 2014

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