Vauxhall Adam Review
Its bizarre name and range of similarly odd trim levels – Jam, Glam and Slam – make the Vauxhall Adam seem like the world’s most twee marketing exercise as it attempts to take on the likes of the Mini hatchback, DS 3, and Fiat 500. A premium small Vauxhall? Can it work?
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
- Funky looks
- Lots of customisation options
What's not so good
- Poor rear visbility
- Noisy on the motorway
- Small boot
Vauxhall Adam: what would you like to read next?
Well yes, it can. The Vauxhall Adam headed up a new range of Vauxhalls that have so far culminated in the excellent new Astra. A perfect match is the 1.0-litre petrol engine, which blends decent performance with cheap running costs, a nice sound, and a weight reduction that makes the car feel more nimble. In fact, it’s more than a match for the engines found in the excellent Mini.
Vauxhall's Fiat 500 clone falls flat – it's not great fun to drive
And the Adam’s huge range of personalisation kit – which means you can have a car that’s completely unique – proves this is exactly the car Vauxhall is targeting. Even if you avoid putting pen to paper on the option’s list, standard equipment includes all the essentials such as air-con, a digital radio, electric windows and alloy wheels.
The Vauxhall Adam’s interior could reasonably be described as its best feature. It’s big on colour and personality, feels reasonably well built and can be personalised to be just how you want it.
The Vauxhall Adam looks after its front-seat passengers very well, but it’s cramped in the back seats and the boot is tiny – even by the standards of this sort of car
Up front, the Adam feels like a larger car. Head, leg and elbowroom are not in short supply and both front seats slide far back to offer plenty of scope for extra legroom. As you can imagine, the same is not true in the back. First things first, the Vauxhall is only available with three doors so getting in is the initial issue you’re confronted with. Once you have successfully squeezed past the front seats, you’ll find a rear bench that is tight on head and legroom but elbowroom is fine on account of it only being designed for two people.
Interior storage is pretty good. The Adam’s glovebox is bigger than in key rivals, the car’s door pockets are big enough for bottles of water, there are smaller trays for items such as your wallet and phone, plus you also get a couple of cupholders up front and a pair of small storage bins in the back.
Nobody expects a small car to be particularly practical, but with its 170-litre boot, the Adam’s luggage capacity falls short of smaller rivals such as the VW Up. Its VW rival has a 251-litre capacity and a handy adjustable boot floor that makes loading easy while the Adam has none of that.
To an extent, this is where the Adam falls apart. Although it’s the looks and options that’ll draw the punters in, the Adam’s humble Corsa underpinnings do it little favours out on the road.
Clumsy handling and a poorly controlled body mean it's not as much fun as it could be
Kicking off the range is a 69hp 1.2-litre engine. Above that there are two modern 1.4-litre petrols with 86hp and 98hp. Both offer mpg fuel efficiency in the mid-50s and decent performance.
The 1.0-litre turbo three-cylinder petrol was launched a little later in the Adam’s life. It feels lively and eager to move the Vauxhall Adam around. It’s also more hushed than Ford’s 1.0-litre Ecoboost, which takes away some of the characterful thrum of three-cylinders but also makes the small Adam quiet on the motorway.
Only available in the expensive Adam Rocks S is the turbocharged version of the 1.4-litre. It produces 150hp for spirited acceleration of 0-62mph in 8.5 seconds. That would be fine if it didn’t cost more than the brilliant Ford Fiesta ST, which gets from 0-62mph in just 6.9 seconds.
It’s easy to drive in town and some say the Adam is fun to chuck about, but it rolls too much for a small city car. It’s an improvement over the Fiat 500, but the Mini has it licked for thrills.
Ride quality is nothing special either – on larger wheel options particularly, the Adam can hop and jiggle on rough roads. Many reviews say the ride quality is downright uncomfortable. Best to choose wheels of 16-inches and below to improve it a little.