From £11,2557
Ruggedised city car doesn’t bring much to the table, except an engine that makes the Adam newly appealing

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?

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.

Vauxhall Adam Rocks Air 1.0 DIT

Price £16,695; 0-62mph 9.9sec; Top speed 121mph; Economy 55.4mpg; CO2 119g/km; Kerb weight 1088kg; Engine 3cyls, 998cc, turbocharged petrol; Power 113bhp at 5000-6000rpm; Torque 125lb ft at 1800-4500rpm; Gearbox 6-speed manual

3 September 2014
...are disappointing for a brand new engine. My 125hp 1.0 Ecoboost Focus manages 114 g/km.


3 September 2014
I hate to be one of those people whose first reaction is to dismiss a new car because it looks awful, is aimed at people with no taste or common sense, and would be embarrassing to travel in.
But what other reaction can you have? Reminds me of that even sillier two door 'coupé' Vitara Suzuki brought out a few years ago.

3 September 2014
Reminds me of the awful Streetwise.

The one in the photos is a really bad colour as well.

Not expecting to see many

3 September 2014
I think it is better put-together and presented than the Rover Streetwise. I could see older people liking it for its slightly-higher hip point but it does nothing I require of a city car. I am glad the new engine is decent even if, as noted, the Ford triple offers more power for similar CO2.

3 September 2014
Cars like this add very little to the essential high hip point required by some older drivers, but not only older drivers, people who like a raised seating position, don't want to bend over to pop a child seat in a car etc etc. They are lowish cars to start with and adding one or two centimetres is neither here nor there. Walking passed a row of old folks' bungalows on my way into town recently I noticed two Vauxhall Agilas, a Suzuki Splash and a Kia Venga. These are now ageing designs and I wonder where these customers are going to turn when they look for a replacement in a few years, certainly not to this daft conveyance.

3 September 2014
I can't really see the appeal of cars like this, but to be fair to Rover the Streetwise looked pretty good and was very spacious. Can't say the Same about space for the Adam, though - silly name, too! And a Jam trim level? Really? :-/

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