To realise how important perception and subjectivity are in this class, take the respective merits of the Ford Ka and Fiat 500. They are ostensibly similar under the skin, but there’s only one that generates serious quantities of ‘want’, and it’s the one from Italy.

And therein lies some of the Adam’s problem. To our eyes, it is not sufficiently attractive, and although it is enviably and admirably customisable, so are some of its rivals.

Nic Cackett

Road tester
The Adam fails to overwhelm or underwhelm in a class where subjective appeal is all

Besides, that is no guarantee of success: most Minis and 500s are delivered in sensible trims and in normal colours. 

But looks are subjective; dynamics are less so. The lack of a sufficient compromise between the steering feel of sportier models and the improved ride comfort of cooking versions disappoints.

The fundamental problem is that the Adam doesn’t deliver in a class dominated by laugh-a-minute cars.

The Adam isn’t without merit, though. It is frugal, spacious and offers some interesting kit, most notably the multimedia system. Ultimately, though, the Adam reveals itself to be a competent but unremarkable city car.

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

    Suzuki Celerio

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

    Fiat Panda

    4
  • Renault Twingo
    The Twingo is a compact, rear-engined city car

    Renault Twingo

    5

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Vauxhall range

Driven this week

  • Car review
    29 July 2015
    Smaller, less pricey follow-up to the SLS reveals its true capabilities
  • First Drive
    29 July 2015
    It's nearly the end of the line for the perennial Land Rover Defender. This Heritage limited edition harks back to the early days
  • First Drive
    28 July 2015
    Seat enhances its three-door Leon Cupra 280 with Nürburgring-inspired add-ons, but the effect is mostly limited to visuals
  • First Drive
    28 July 2015
    Honda's new small SUV needs to excel in an extremely competitive class. We drive the diesel in the UK to see if it's up to the task
  • Car review
    23 July 2015
    Mazda goes Juke hunting, with its Skyactiv-generation baby SUV