Too compromised to be a genuine MINI alternative
- Youthful appeal
- Tonnes of personalisation options
- Broad range of petrol engines
- Not particularly frugal or cheap to tax
- Rivals are more fun to drive
- No diesel option
Appealing directly to younger drivers – and the young at heart – is the Vauxhall Adam, a compact three-door hatchback sitting below the Corsa in the firm’s range size-wise, but above it in price.
Vauxhall claims that what makes this car stand out as unique is the high level of personalisation a customer can specify thanks to more than a million design combinations.
The compact four-seater goes head-to-head with the Fiat 500 and the MINI Hatch primarily, and features a ‘floating’ roof that makes the car look lower and more distinctive. Ramp up the Adam’s extras and its price pitches it into Audi A1 territory.
Not only does it have myriad options and a fancy two-tone paintjob, it was one of the first cars in the small hatchback category to have the option of LED daytime running lights.
Trims and interior design options
Everything about the Adam is designed to appeal to the fashion conscious, and it becomes obvious when you consider the three core trim level names: Jam, Slam and Glam. The line-up’s topped by the comparatively dull-sounding Adam S, although for the first few months it was on sale Vauxhall called it the Grand Slam.
The entry-level Jam is, purportedly, fashionable, mid-spec Glam is supposed to be elegant, while the Slam emphasises a (visually) racier side of the Adam.
There is also an SUV-esque model called the Adam Rocks, which is covered under a separate review and has the option of a folding fabric roof.
The Adam Unlimited joined the range in 2016 allowing for even greater degrees of individuality where taste needn’t be a constraint – virtually any colour and trim combination is possible.
There are plenty of visual combinations, with a wide variety of exterior colours (with such names as ‘James Blonde’) including two different roof colours, four interior colours, 15 different seat colour schemes and a whole host of different materials, designs and trim options. Customers can even choose their headlining, including an LED-lit starlight roof trim.
Five-strong petrol engine range
There is a mix of three- and four-cylinder petrol engines under the Adam’s snub bonnet: the least powerful trio are non-turbocharged and comprise of a 1.2-litre with 70hp and two 1.4-litre motors with either 87hp or 100hp.
The sole three-pot unit is a 1.0-litre turbo producing 115hp, while the Adam S has a lustier 150hp from its turbocharged 1.4-litre engine. That’s enough for a 130mph top speed and an 8.5-second 0-62mph time.
Most efficient is the 87hp 1.4-litre with an Ecoflex fuel-saving package, but even then its claim of 56.5mpg and emissions of 118g/km are far from class-leading. If you fancy a miserly diesel then you’re out of luck – there aren’t any offered.
Safety systems and technology
Buyers can optionally specify an automated parallel parking system as well as blindspot alert, but standard safety features include two sets of Isofix child seat attachments, stability control and hill-start assist. There’s also a button to increase the electronic power steering system’s assistance at lower speeds, which is especially useful for city driving and parking.
Inside is an infotainment system that incorporates Bluetooth as well as connectivity for smartphones with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay software. This enables access to internet-based applications, including GPS navigation as well as music playlists, pictures and your phonebook, all controlled via the seven-inch, full-colour touchscreen.
OnStar, Vauxhall’s virtual concierge service is also available on the Adam, featuring as part of the standard kit roster on Slam and S versions. Not only can you have sat-nav directions downloaded automatically to the Intellilink multimedia system, it can pin-point exactly where you are should you get into difficulties.
Vauxhall Adam hatchback model history
- September 2012 – Available to order with first deliveries in February 2013, this is a new model line for Vauxhall, a three-door city car with a range of personalisation options. Trim levels are unique, too: Jam, Glam and Slam. Each has a trio of petrol engines to choose from – a 1.2-litre 16v VVT with 70hp, and two 1.4-litre versions of the same unit with 87hp and 100hp.
- March 2014 – Limited availability Black Edition and White Edition launched with the 87hp 1.4-litre VVT engine. Cars are monochrome – in either I’ll be Black or Saturday White Fever (seriously – with wheels matching the bodywork colour), although the door mirror covers have a brushed aluminium look. Both feature the Intellilink multimedia system as standard.
- July 2014 – Three-cylinder, 1.0-litre Direct Injection Turbo engine with 115hp available with Jam, Glam and Slam specifications.
- December 2014 – Engine titles simplified for the four-cylinder units – now known as 1.2i and 1.4i. Easytronic automatic gearbox launched with the 87hp 1.4i engine across all three trims.
- January 2015 – Performance increased with the sporty Grand Slam specification, powered by a 150hp 1.4-litre turbocharged engine. Distinguishing features include 18-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler and red decals inside and out.
- April 2015 – Grand Slam trim renamed S.
- July 2015 – 1.0-litre engine title changed to Turbo.
- October 2015 – Limited edition Energised launched with 1.2i 70hp engine. Special features include a gloss black grille bar, sports pedals and the Intellilink multimedia system. 1.0i Turbo engine discontinued in Jam and Glam specifications.
- December 2015 – Multimedia system improvements with the introduction of the Intellilink R4.0 package, while Slam and S models also have the OnStar virtual concierge service as standard.
- February 2016 – Unlimited specification introduced allowing buyers to specify any colour, interior trim, wheel design and option combination regardless of whether or not they clash. Engines include all units except the 1.4i Turbo.