From £11,2557
The 1.0-litre turbo engine and Unlimited trim combine to make this the best Adam in the line-up

Our Verdict

Vauxhall Adam

Is the Vauxhall Adam special enough to provide an answer to the Fiat 500 and Mini, or merely an exercise in style and marketing?

What is it?

What do a Vauxhall Adam and a Ferrari Enzo have in common? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t a 6.0-litre V12. It’s that both cars are named after their founders, sort of. Naturally, Vauxhall’s entry into the style-led supermini class is sold in mainland Europe as an Opel, a company founded by a chap called Adam.

To draw in the kind of fashionistas that like to see their new car as a blank canvas, Unlimited trim allows you to pick from any of the dizzying array of personalisation options on offer, avoiding the limitations that other variants have. That means you can pick your body, roof, mirror cap and grille bar colour; choose the wheel size and design; add external decals; and pick seat fabric and dashboard inserts. You still have to pay extra for most of that, though.

Mechanically, it’s exactly as before. In the case of our test car, there’s a 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine bolted to a six-speed manual gearbox. Cheaper, naturally aspirated 1.4s and 1.2s are also on offer, should you not require all 113bhp of three-pot fury. 

What's it like?

Vauxhall’s turbo triple feels like a perfect match for the Adam. Although it can feel a little flat if you put your foot down when there's less than 2000rpm on the rev counter, it soon picks up and has no trouble getting up to 70mph. It has a muted but appealing thrum if you work it hard yet remains smooth and refined at lower revs.

Impressively, there’s virtually none of the steering wheel tremors that some rivals suffer from when the start/stop system is activated. Given the low tax costs and fuel consumption that the official figures suggest, it’s definitely the pick of the range.

Even on the 16in wheels of our test car, the ride can become choppy over rough stretches of road. That’s partly down to fairly firm springs, but also the Adam’s truncated wheelbase. The front wheels are often still dealing with the after-effects of a bump just as the rear wheels hit it.

This firmness never translates into the kind of sporty handling that wins the Mini so many fans. The steering is too light and fails to inform you fully about the movements of the front wheels.

As you’d expect from a car based on a cut-down Corsa platform, this isn’t a particularly roomy car. Front space shouldn’t cause an issue for even the tallest of drivers, thanks to a high roofline, upright seating position and a reasonable amount of cabin width. It also feels much plusher than the Fiat 500 if not quite as good as the Mini.

Things get progressively worse the further back you go. Rear leg room is limited so only kids and particularly small adults will be happy for longer journeys back there. With only 170 litres of capacity, the boot is small and it also has a particularly high loading lip. All said, though, the Mini and Fiat 500 are similarly titchy inside. 

Should I buy one?

If you’ve fallen in love with the looks of the Adam, then the Unlimited does make the most sense. It’s the cheapest trim available with the 1.0-litre engine and it has all the equipment you really need, if not necessarily want.

Even so, we would still suggest that the Mini One is - to these eyes - just as funky to look at, has an even better interior and is a far better steer. It may be more expensive to buy when similarly equipped, but we’d say it’s worth the extra. 

2016 Vauxhall Adam Unlimited 1.0i Turbo

Location Bedfordshire; On sale Now; Price £14,620; Engine 3 cyls, 998cc, petrol, turbo; Power 113bhp at 5200rpm; Torque 125Ib ft at 1800-4500rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 1063kg; Top speed 121mph; 0-62mph 9.9sec; Economy 60.1mpg; CO2/tax band 109g/km,18%; Rivals Fiat 500 TwinAir, Mini One 3-door

Join the debate

Comments
10

8 December 2016
I hope so...

8 December 2016
Is that a six year old driving it?

9 December 2016
Hardly seen any around so this is turning into a bit of GM flop, in fact that sounds like a special edition, the Adam Flop

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

9 December 2016
You don't see many about, not surprisingly. Not sure why you'd buy one unless you really fell in love with the styling and could put up with the ride and handling and the lack of interior space. The latter seems pointless. Why build a car you can't fit people into? I never understand that. If I was designing a car, I'd start with that and fit everything else around it. The Adam is the Austin Metropolitan of our age – slightly weird and not very good.

MrJ

9 December 2016
A student friend of mine had a Nash Metropolitan that was old even then. He had a coupe in turquoise and white, with a spare tyre hanging on the boot. Its chubby looks drew smirks from us Ferrari fans. But... he always had a good looking girl in the passenger seat, so the little Metropolitan obviously had a certain appeal. It collapsed of metal moth though, and he made an art assemblage of the remains, which picked up a prize.

MrJ

9 December 2016
Trouble is that the Adam looks like a pram.

9 December 2016
the ADAM is actually not selling as bad as one might think, in europe in october they shifted 4,104 units, granted in comparison it is a way behind the fiat 500 on 13,026 units but it still more than the likes of the mazda 2 at 2,578 units and suzuki swift on 2,772 units.

9 December 2016
VX220EDDIE wrote:

the ADAM is actually not selling as bad as one might think, in europe in october they shifted 4,104 units, granted in comparison it is a way behind the fiat 500 on 13,026 units but it still more than the likes of the mazda 2 at 2,578 units and suzuki swift on 2,772 units.

Both of those companies have never sold huge amounts compared to Opel in Europe and the Swift is about to be replaced.
The 500 sold 13,000 in Oct (and that was a below average month, and, it's been around forever)

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

PAA

12 December 2016
Its beautiful and unique, only if it had more feel in the steering. The 500 is over rated, its harsh and actually worse to ride in than the Adam. The Mini is the best but its not a mini any more. In fact 30cm longer takes it to a completely different category.

12 December 2016
Autocar lists the Fiat 500 Twinair (& Mini) as the main rivals, however yet again they've overlooked the Abarth 595.

The 595 Custom is only marginally more expensive but has 145bhp to the mAdam's 113, 2 seconds quicker 0-62 and has more than enough standard equipment (phone/internet connectivity, aircon, 16" alloys, body kit, etc). Loads of customisation options too (Vauxhall is merely copying the 500 which launched with 500,000 options).
The mAdam is not fun to drive, the exact opposite of the grin-inducing Abarth.
.
I've no idea why Autocar don't have some imagination when suggesting alternatives?

Paul Brighton.

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