What is it?
The Vauxhall Adam is now the car it potentially always should have been. When it launched in 2013, the Adam came with an archaic engine range consisting of 1.2 and 1.4-litre four-cylinder normally aspirated units. The 1.2 was slow, the 1.4 unrefined; neither had any kind of charm, character or driving pleasure to befit the Adam's supposed premium city car positioning.
The car was crying out for a modern, three-cylinder turbocharged engine, in other words. As luck would have it, Vauxhall has now fitted the Adam with just such a thing.
First seen on the new Corsa and the Adam Rocks crossover-convertible mash-up towards the end of last year, the new three-pot turbo engine is now available in the standard Adam. It’s a 1.0-litre unit which produces 113bhp and 125lb ft while returning claimed combined economy of 57.6mpg and CO2 emissions of 114g/km. A combination of numbers the Adam could only dream of before.
What's it like?
Equipped with this engine, the Adam is no longer a car for which you have to make apologies. If you liked it before, it would most likely have been for the way it looked, not for the way it drove.
That’s not quite the case now; the engine helps inject a crucial bit of charm and character, which raises the Adam’s competitiveness against the likes of the Mini and Fiat 500, and adds a touch more driver involvement in the process.
The most striking thing about the engine is its refinement, particularly at idle. There’s plenty of torque, both at the low end and for in-gear acceleration, which is something previous Adams struggled with. It’s also capable of mixing with the speed and flow of fast motorway traffic, again something the 1.2 Adam in particular managed rather miserably.
It’s not perfect, mind. The trade-off for that refinement is that you only get the throaty three-cylinder howl - the character in other words - when you really rev it, unlike with Ford’s excellent 1.0-litre three-pot EcoBoost engine, which gargles all the time.
The rest of the dynamic package remains so-so. The steering is too light and lacks feel. The ride is generally smooth, but the car suffers from the unusual tendency for the front and rear axles to feel disconnected when crashing over bumps in the road. The handling is improved with a sharper turn-in thanks to the lighter engine over the nose, but overall the Adam remains a long way from the Mini in terms of driver involvement and dynamic sparkle.
One highlight remains, though: the cabin. Its premium look and feel, allied to impressive equipment levels, have always made the interior the Adam’s strong point. The seemingly endless array of customisable options inside and out are also offered on this latest version of the car.
Should I buy one?
Fashionable city cars such as the Adam, Mini and Fiat 500 are always going to be sold for the way they look and how much you can customise them, as opposed to how they drive. Yet this can’t mask just how disappointing the Adam’s original engine range was.