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 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.
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.