If the slightly stubby, four-square proportions of the Vauxhall Adam seem unusual, it’s because they are. The car is 25mm shorter than the Mini, but nearly 80mm taller. It apes the Fiat 500 quite faithfully. But its width and length mean there’s considerably more to the Adam than the Fiat. At 1720mm without mirrors, it’s wider even than the fourth-generation Vauxhall Corsa.

The Adam’s relationship with the Corsa is critical. The two are built in the same German factory and the Adam shares the Corsa’s platform. Fairly early in the Adam’s gestation Russelsheim took the decision not to use GM’s global ‘Gamma-II’ small-car platform as originally intended, which serves under the Mokka compact SUV and Chevrolet Aveo.

Matt Saunders

Deputy road test editor
Oddly, the inside of the filler cap contains no information about what fuel to put in the car

That didn’t alter the car’s mechanical layout: engines go in transversely under the bonnet and drive the front wheels, as is universal law for small cars, and suspension is via struts at the front and a torsion beam at the rear. The question is, do warmed-over mechanical ingredients designed for a supermini launched in 2006 belong on a ‘premium’ small car years later?

Engine choice is limited to 86 or 99bhp 1.4-litre petrol power, or a 69bhp 1.2-litre engine, all mated to a five-speed manual. Vauxhall is keen to point out that new variants will surface throughout the car’s lifecycle.

Vauxhall would argue that Adam buyers are more likely to be interested in the car’s extensive colour palette. There are 12 body colours here, with contrasting roof colours, and 20 different alloy wheel designs to choose from, and then optional exterior trim and decal packs on top. But, for the time being at least, those same buyers may be hard pressed to find as much substance as style here.

Top 5 City cars

  • The Volkswagen Up city car isn't revolutionary, it's just quantifiably better than the opposition

    Volkswagen Up

  • Hyundai i10
    The Hyundai i10 is offered with either a 1.0-litre petrol engine or a 1.2-litre petrol engine

    Hyundai i10

  • The Celerio is an all-new city car from Suzuki

    Suzuki Celerio

  • Panda’s 4 star EuroNCAP crash score falls short of some rivals

    Fiat Panda

  • Vauxhall Viva 1.0 SE is priced from £7995

    Vauxhall Viva


Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    27 November 2015
    We try the turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol version of the Golf Bluemotion. If you're not doing mega miles, it's a better bet than the diesel
  • 2015 Mercedes-AMG A45
    First Drive
    27 November 2015
    Mercedes couldn't let the Audi RS3 get away with having more power than its AMG A45. As part of a wholesale A-Class facelift, it now has 376bhp and a host of other revisions
  • First Drive
    25 November 2015
    More powerful Clubsport version of Volkswagen's iconic hot hatch proves thoroughly entertaining on our track-only first drive in Portugal
  • First Drive
    25 November 2015
    Suzuki has added an automatic diesel powertrain to its S-Cross crossover line-up. Does it offer a compelling choice over the manual versions?
  • First Drive
    24 November 2015
    Alpina’s D3 saloon and estate benefit from the latest BMW 3 Series updates. We've always loved it, but is it still as beguiling as ever in this latest form?