The market continually fails to produce a 3.7-metre car that’ll seat four six-footers in genuine comfort. So it’s no serious shortcoming to find that the Vauxhall Adam has a rear bench that’s best kept for the kids. By class standards that doesn’t actually make it impractical – and although it’s not ideal, neither does a 170-litre boot.

In fact, the Vauxhall’s cabin is quite large. A low scuttle and tall glasshouse make for good visibility and a strong impression of space inside. The wide cockpit and high roofline deliver generous footwells and fairly abundant headroom. Even larger drivers should seldom find the Adam’s interior plastics with their shoulders and knees, as they often would in narrower city cars.

Matt Prior

Road test editor
Don't spend a lot on top spec models – better to buy a modest trim level and spend on options instead

The seat bases are slightly short, flat and lacking in thigh support, but otherwise the driving position is sound. It’s less recumbent than in a Mini, but not necessarily the worse for it. The large steering wheel has plenty of adjustment and the instruments are clear and quite attractive.

Cars featuring a black fascia and black cloth seats do little to demonstrate the more vivacious possibilities that Adam customers can choose between. There are four options on fascia colour, 15 different seat trims, several different roof linings and 18 fascia ‘decor’ panels (ours were red), which add a flash of colour and can be changed by your Vauxhall dealer to refresh the cabin.

Wisely specified models distinguish themselves better on material richness, though. The Adam’s dashboard has just enough variety and visual interest to lift the ambience above the small-car norm. It’s also quite tactile and appealing; all the better for being less slavishly devoted to unadorned functionality than Opel/Vauxhall’s default setting.

Top 5 City cars

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

    Fiat Panda

    3
  • Renault Twingo
    The Twingo is a compact, rear-engined city car

    Renault Twingo

    4
  • Can Korea’s new supermini shine in a class packed with stars?

    Kia Picanto

    5

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week