The Adam does indeed look all-new and is nicely proportioned, with a big-eyed cuteness about its foreshortened body, which is exactly 300mm shorter than a Corsa overall and 200mm shorter in the wheelbase. The Adam is the widest car in its class and has a purposeful, planted look that very much suits it. Some Vauxhall sources swear the platform is all-new, but at least one document suggests that the all-steel monocoque body is Corsa-related, with a modified MacPherson strut front suspension system and electric power steering.
Three engine options are offered in the UK, all petrol and all 16-valve VVT units: a 69bhp 1.2-litre four, plus 86bhp and 99bhp versions of the familiar 1.4-litre four-cylinder unit. GM doesn’t feel diesels are necessary (or economic) in city cars; small petrol cars are deemed more affordable, which is why the company will also launch its forthcoming 1.0-litre petrol triple in the Adam.
Our test Adam was a 99bhp 1.4-litre Slam – the ‘sporty’ option where Glam is ‘sophisticated’ and a Jam is ‘colourful’. Our car had a black roof, yellow bodywork and radical yellow patterns on its black seats. Access is easy and the car feels roomy for its size, not least because it’s around 75mm taller than a Mini and has bigger doors. Inside, it’s impressively roomy and access to the rear seats is more convenient than most in the class. Indeed, whichever of many combinations we viewed on test, the interior design and materials quality was impressive.
Vauxhall’s designers clearly see an impressive cabin ‘look’ as the way to customers’ hearts. At times during our spell with the Adam we had a Mini along for the ride; its fascia, especially, seemed hard to use and poorly resolved by comparison.
You sit fairly high in an Adam, but definitely ‘in’ the car, without the slightly topply feeling you get in a Fiat 500. So far, so good. But when you start to drive, the disappointments begin. The 1.4-litre engine is okay, but nothing special. It sounds a mite thrashy and performance feel is no better than average. According to Vauxhall’s figures, it’ll deliver a 115mph top speed and will sprint from 0-62mph in a decent-enough 11.5sec, but the combined fuel consumption is only 51.4mpg (55.4 with optional stop-start) and the 129g/km (or 119g/km) CO2 output is nothing special.
Little wonder that, beyond the 1.0-litre triple, GM is working hotfoot on another small turbo engine family that will debut in the Adam “later in its life”. For all its new looks, the efficiency spec of this car is well behind the best.
On the road the Adam has considerable charm, without doing anything better than the excellent current crop, led by Mini and Volkswagen’s Up. The ride is rather lumpy in town – about on a par with the Fiat Panda but without that car’s surprising quietness. It feels taut and well made, however. The steering, aided by a rather false feeling of sharpness off the straight-ahead, gives an initial feeling of agility, but it doesn’t feel very sophisticated or responsive dead-ahead.