First Drive: Vauxhall Adam

Vauxhall is not a brand name that appears on most urban fashionistas radar, the cars of choice generally being limited to the Fiat 500 and Mini, with perhaps the Audi A1 thrown in for those doing well. That could change if the new Vauxhall Adam can capture hearts in the same way as its most obvious rivals have.

Based loosely on the existing Corsa, the Adam is both shorter and wider giving it quite a purposeful stance, especially on 18 inch wheels. A clamshell bonnet accentuates the width, while sharp lines and swooping curves make the car feel alive even before you’ve turned the key.

Sadly it’s not quite the athlete it appears despite being tuned specifically for the UK, mostly due to some underpowered engines.

The entry level 1.2 litre petrol engine produces just 69bhp, while the 1.4 can be found in 86 or 99 bhp variants. While all are fine for the city, they soon run out of puff on the open road. Economy is good though, with none of the engines returning worse than 50 mpg while CO2 emissions are low enough to ensure you’ll pay no more than £30 a year if you opt for the Start/Stop system.

Vauxhall Adam 2013 Pump Up the Blue Front Left

However, to focus on these areas is to misunderstand the Adam. It’s an automotive fashion statement and not a hot hatch, so its dynamic shortcoming can be overlooked just so long as the car as a whole isn’t.

Grabbing attention should be easy in the Adam, given the levels of personalisation available. Short of hand built luxury cars from Goodwood, there has never been the level of customisation available before as is seen on the Adam.

From 12 exterior colours, three roof colours and 20 wheel options to 15 interior trim choices, 18 dashboard styles and even 12 key options, there’s every chance you could have a totally unique car. Overall there’s some four billion combinations of car, although choose wisely as something too outrageous will be tough to sell in years to come.

Vauxhall Adam 2013 Dashboard

Even with that many options, it all comes together well inside the car. Gone is the rather staid black and grey that you find in so many cars now, replaced with a dashboard full of textures and colours. A thick rimmed steering wheel frames interesting dials, while a slab of colour runs from one side to the other. It’s suitably stylish and feels spacious with it. Large windows and plenty of shoulder room up front help make the Adam a comfortable place to be, although the rear seats are best suited to children.

Equipment levels are high too, with even the entry level model getting air conditioning, cruise control, digital DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity. A button with a steering wheel marked City on it pumps up the power assistance to the wheel, making it feather light for parking, although an automatic parking option is available.

The Adam though will succeed or fail on its image, its ability to create ‘want’ in the buyer, and not on its driving dynamics or gadgets. Looks are subjective, but it’s not tough to create a car that suits your own style. That could just be enough to take a few sales from Fiat and Mini.

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Phil is a motoring writer for print and web, failed racing driver, car hoarder and banger rally competitor. Nominated for the Headline Auto Rising Star award and a MGMW member, Phil freelances for outlets as diverse as Diesel Car magazine, and Cambridge Magazine, amongst many others. He also maintains a fleet of unloved motors, but spends most of his time driving an old Corvette.

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