What is it?
The new Vauxhall Adam Rocks Air – which belongs in its own little niche of the already niche-filled ‘fashion’ city car segment, apparently.
This, says Vauxhall, is a premium A-segment crossover hatchback with a folding cloth roof, and as such it doesn’t have a single natural rival.
Shows you how much marketing twaddle actually counts for. Unwrapped of all the brochure-speak, this is an Adam with plastic bumpers and wheelarches, an ‘allroad’ chassis makeover and a big sunroof – but no four-wheel drive option, nor even any clever torque-vectoring ESP functionality.
What's it like?
Not a particularly special or interesting car, to be honest. But far from a bad one, mostly thanks to a new engine.
The Adam Rocks is the first Vauxhall to use the new 1.0-litre turbo petrol triple, which is also headed into the new Corsa.
Good for 113bhp and 125lb ft, it makes the car capable of dipping under the 10-sec-to-62mph marker, and simultaneously a sub-120g/km, 50mpg plus ownership proposition. Which sounds a bit more like the stuff that premium superminis should be made of.
The new engine is most striking for its refinement. Whisper-quiet and smooth at idle, it’ll issue a characteristic three-cylinder warble when pressed into a sweat – but only then.
Accelerator response isn’t as crisp as it might be, but the turbo still serves plenty of torque from under 2000rpm, and performance is accessible and elastic.
The engine isn’t quite as willing at very high revs as Ford’s Ecoboost three-pot, but Vauxhall would argue that low- and mid-range torque matters more. For all but keen drivers, they’d be right.
Adding 15mm to the Adam’s ride height and recommissioning the springs, shocks and roll bars hasn’t harmed its handling. The ‘Rocks’ corners flat and grips keenly, thanks in part to a slightly wider rear track than the standard car gets. But the Adam still suffers with shortness of feedback in its steering just off-centre.
The Rocks’ ride is a bit more pitchy and abrupt than the standard Adam’s, but it’s neither irritating nor intrusive.
Should I buy one?
When all’s said and done, we’d recommend the engine first and the ‘Rocks’ crossover makeover a distant second.
A £13.5k Adam Jam with this powerplant suddenly seems a competitive offering next to a Fiat 500 TwinAir or a Citroën DS3. But the argument for spending almost £17k on the limited extra capability of the ‘Rocks’ is sketchy at best.
If you’re what the Vauxhall marketing department would describe as a ‘postmodern urbanite’ and you’re in love with the looks of this city car in walking boots, you won’t find much to dislike here. But you also won’t find a great deal of substance to set the car apart either.