The Vauxhall Adam’s positioning as an urban kickabout is reflected in the engine line-up. All engines are small and are best suited to the grind of city use. The 1.2-litre unit and both versions of the 1.4-litre feel thrashy and underpowered at speed, while the 1.0-litre unit has made itself the pick of the bunch by a distance.
The 1.2-litre engine is muted at idle, with a slightly cammy tickover entering the cabin. Less impressive, certainly when cold, is the five-speed gearshift, whose throw lacked compliance and a willingness to engage, particularly into first and second. It improved as it warmed, but never to the point where it was pleasurable.
It’s a particular pity when the engine is as smooth and revvy as it is, if not quick. In a car tipping the scales at 1090kg when laden with a few options, the 69bhp engine fails to provoke sparkling pace. Even so, our road testers recorded a 0-60mph time of 14.3sec, which compares well enough with 13.7sec in a 1.2-litre Fiat 500.
It’s a similar story with both versions of the 1.4-litre unit, in 86bhp and 99bhp guises. At motorway speeds they get a bit loud, and begin to run out of shove above 70mph. The low-power unit doesn't compare well to more modern engines of a similar capacity, and the 86bhp version's official 50-75mph time of 17.8sec in fifth gear tells you most of what you need to know. Even the 99bhp 1.4 is lacklustre, if slightly more useable at speed.