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

Chief tester
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

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

    Volkswagen Up

    1
  • Hyundai i10
    The Hyundai i10 is offered with either a 1.0-litre petrol engine or a 1.2-litre petrol engine

    Hyundai i10

    2
  • Suzuki Celerio
    The Celerio is an all-new city car from Suzuki

    Suzuki Celerio

    3
  • Fiat Panda
    Panda’s 4 star EuroNCAP crash score falls short of some rivals

    Fiat Panda

    4
  • Vauxhall Viva
    Vauxhall Viva 1.0 SE is priced from £7995

    Vauxhall Viva

    5

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Lamborghini Huracán LP610-4 Spyder
    First Drive
    24 August 2016
    Awful driving position aside, drop-top Huracán handles UK roads well. It's more dynamically rounded than its rangemates, but lacks rivals' handling bite
  • Porsche Panamera 4S Diesel
    First Drive
    23 August 2016
    Its predecessor may have been a bit limp, but the Porsche Panamera 4S Diesel is crushingly rapid and suitably luxurious
  • Car review
    23 August 2016
    Can the best sports coupé of the decade absorb a contentious new engine?
  • Porsche Panamera Turbo
    First Drive
    22 August 2016
    Porsche has striven to make its Panamera even more luxurious this time around, but the four-seater retains the grip and pace to go with its increased refinement
  • Tesla Model S 60D
    First Drive
    22 August 2016
    Updated Tesla Model S gets tweaked styling and a new entry-level 60kWh powertrain. Could this new version be the pick of the range?