You Better Adam And Eve It
Posted on: 16th Jan 2013
Vauxhall has built some stylish cars in the past. The trouble is, they've only been stylish to a small percentage of the car buying population. A Vauxhall with widespread chic appeal? I'm struggling to think of one.
Some of the company's niche models have undoubtedly worked and worked well, but with its ADAM city car, Vauxhall is looking to grab the attention of fashionista buyers who might otherwise choose a MINI, a Fiat 500 or a Citroen DS3. Yes, you did read that correctly. It's called an ADAM.
We can't even blame Vauxhall for that odd name. It's an Opel thing. Vauxhall's sister brand in Germany flexed the corporate muscles a bit and insisted the car would be named after Adam Opel, the company's founder. It's now got me wondering if it'll start at trend for Biblical car names. Lotus Ezekiel anyone?
Talk to anyone who really knows about cars and they'll tell you how good the latest generation Corsa is. Trouble is, the man in the street still associates the Corsa with the mediocre old vehicles that replaced the Nova and weren't particularly great.
The ADAM rides on a cut down version of the Corsa's chassis and that can only be good news. It's been extensively re-engineered to suit the demands of the shorter wheelbase. It's ostensibly quite a simple set-up but Vauxhall has invested years of know how into it.
Up front are a set of MacPherson struts while the rear end utilises a torsion beam set-up. Ease of use on urban roads is enhanced by a CITY mode, which increases the electronic power steering system's assistance at lower speeds.
Design and Build
This is a car that's going to sell largely on whether the styling chimes with new car buyers and Vauxhall certainly can't be accused of going at it half-cocked.
There's a lot going on, the design work attributed to Brit, Mark Adams' team in Europe. The ADAM incorporates a 'floating' roof which is visually disconnected from the body, which works particularly well with two-tone colour schemes. It looks like no other Vauxhall but still incorporates a bunch of existing styling cues, such as the Astra's wing-shaped chrome grille bar and the blade shape in the lower doors.
Like MINI, Vauxhall is looking to appeal to the customer's sense of individuality in the sheer amount of colour combinations and materials. Wheels range from 16 inches in size for entry-level cars and there are 17 and 18-inch options further up the range, with a lowered sports chassis part of the deal.
Unlike many cars which offer striking exterior designs but an interior that betrays a sudden curtailment of development budget, the cabin of the ADAM is, if anything, even bolder than the exterior. There's extensive use of body-coloured trim inserts, not only on the dashboard but also reaching along the centre console and onto the steering wheel aimed at giving the interior a real riotous personality.
A seven-inch touch screen interface is the big point of interest from a technological perspective. It's both iPhone and Android compatible, and can access internet-downloaded apps in the same manner as the latest Renault Clio and Peugeot 208. Where specified, the navigation and infotainment controls are all marshalled by the touch screen. There's even a choice of headlining, including an LED-lit starlight roof trim.
Market and Model
Again with the wacky names. The ADAM is offered with three trim levels, JAM (fashionable/colourful), GLAM (elegant/sophisticated) and SLAM (racy/sporty). The latest generation ESP system is standard on all models and it also includes a Hill Start Assist function. That wonderful star-effect roof and a heated steering wheel are options that differentiate the Vauxhall from the run of the mill city car contenders and these surprise and delight features are key in a market that's not always led fully by upfront pricing. Talking of which, expect the ADAM to open in the region of £11,000, so it should undercut the MINI, if not the Fiat 500.
Cost of Ownership
As you'd expect, the ADAM's economy and emissions figures slightly better those achieved by the same engines in the bigger, heavier Corsa. So you can expect well over 50mpg on the combined cycle and close to 120g/km of CO2 even from the pokey 100PS 1.4-litre petrol variant.
In other words, whichever model you opt for, the day to day running costs aren't going to generate too much cause for concern. Insurance ratings and residual values both look extremely promising.
If you can get past the rather unusual naming culture, it's easy to see why Vauxhall are so bullish about the ADAM range. It cherry picks from some tried and tested chassis and engine technology and builds on that with extrovert styling and promises decent build quality. The interior moves the citycar game on in several key regards, including the option of a wonderful starlight roof and the intelligence of its iPhone and Android-compatible touchscreen infotainment system.
It all adds up to a very interesting choice if you're looking for a style-conscious little runabout. So don't sign the cheque for that Fiat 500 just yet.....
OUR VERDICT: 78/100.
The ADAM punts Vauxhall straight into the style-led city car sector. It's striking to look at, both inside and out, and includes some features yet to be seen in this segment.