Thank Mini and Fiat, but today's small cars are aimed squarely at urban fashionistas. In a market where image is everything, it’s a fine line between funky and failure. Impressively, the best of breed are able break out of this narrowed and clichéd demographic, too.
Prior to the introduction of the Vauxhall Adam, it was a market unknown to Vauxhall, especially as the model represents an effort to climb from the volume to semi-premium market.
On paper, the Adam certainly shows promise. It is certainly eye-catching, although perhaps not cute or attractive enough to bother Fiat or Mini’s stylists. It also offers huge scope for customisation. That’s important, because a couple of thousand pounds’ worth of stickers, wheels and trim substantially increases profit margins.
But its styling is too wide of the mark to give it enough visual punch to steal too many sales from the Fiat 500. Nor, as we shall see, does it offer enough dynamic flair to bother the Citroën DS3. And it certainly doesn’t have the all-round driveway appeal of the Mini.
And then there’s the name. It is so-called in homage to the founder of Opel, Vauxhall’s sister company, Adam Opel. That works with the Ferrari Enzo, but here it sounds a little odd. Even more unusual are the three core trim levels: Jam, Glam and Slam. Each, predictably, come with their own party pieces, but loosely the Jam is the base model, Glam has a little more glitz, while Slam sits at the sporty end.
Where the Adam scores well is with a range of customisation options that make it entirely possible that you’ll never see two identical models. There’s bags of space in the cabin and its economical, too – no model in the range drops beneath 50mpg on the combined cycle.
But in a market that is overwhelmed with unique subtleties, objective ability doesn’t necessarily equal appeal. Read on for our full verdict.