Vauxhall Adam 1.4 Glam Ecoflex07 | 11 | 2012Scotcars rating

    Vauxhall enters the battle for city domination according to the brave new world of Adam

    VAUXHALL HAS TAKEN its time, but finally it has cottoned on to the fact the sub-superminis — the sector currently led handsomely by the Mini and Fiat 500 — is a potentially profitable sector in which it should be competing.

    Three years after the first design lines were drawn on a computer, the new Vauxhall Adam is on sale. Ok, first deliveries in Scotland won't arrive until March 8, but we've already driven the striking new small car (watch our video of the new Vauxhall Adam).

    The colour touch-screen is easy and logical to use, and Vauxhall will offer a smartphone-based satnav app. To be honest, the pre-production model they supplied in the international launch cars was plagued with software issues which left a number of the journalists lost … and rather infuriated in the centre of Lisbon.

    Let's deal with its size first: it is small — it's based on the latest Corsa platform — but, to be honest, it's also pretty well perfectly formed. It's a two-seater. Yes it has a rear bench seat, but the reality is you'll struggle to get even a couple of kids in the back.

    That assessment won't go down well with English design director, Malcolm Ward, who tried to persuade me it would "comfortably carry four average-sized adults for a couple of hundred miles". Hmmmm?

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    The funky three-door hatchback is 3.7-metres long and 1.72m wide (that makes it slightly wider than the Mini). It also has a wider track than the Mini, and the combination gives it a squat, muscular, rather masculine stance.

    The main hurdle Vauxhall — or parent company Opel — had to overcome was the fact that unlike Mini or Fiat, it didn't have a past heritage in small cars. There was no iconic model it could reinvent.

    Instead, it had no alternative but to go for a brand new design: and to be honest, it's a good looking wee thing which will turn heads.

    But it is colour-sensitive. Some of the mixtures on offer at the launch were enough to turn your stomach: it definitely looks letter in light, or bold colours. Steer clear of the dark purple, black and various shades of grey.

    Adam is powered by a choice of three petrol engines: a 67bhp 1.2, a 97bhp 1.4, plus the 84bhp version of the 1.4 which we test here in mid-range Glam trim. It'll set you back just over £13,000 when equipped with the £295 optional stop/start system. There will be no diesel Adam.

    Vauxhall has also taken the decision to give every Adam which runs on 17 or 18in wheels a firmer sports chassis set-up as standard. Our test car was fitted with 17in Continental ContiEcoContact tyres.

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    The Adam is available with a choice of three trim levels, Jam, Glam and Slam (yes, you can see a rather annoying theme emerging here!).

    Each will appeal, according to Vauxhall, to fashionable/colourful, elegant/sophisticated and racy/sporty buyers respectively. Already you can see the marketing department has been working far too hard on the 'creative' side.

    And the Vauxhall bods were positively drooling at the realisation that the addition of option packs creates a virtually endless degree of customisation.

    Ok: are you sitting comfortably? There's a choice of 12 body colours, 15 seat designs, 20 alloy wheel styles, three printed headliners and no fewer than 18 interior décor panels … to mention just a few.

    Oh, and there are also four interior base colours – Black, Cocoa, Purple and White; 12 uniquely-named body colours, including ‘Purple Fiction’ and a very topical ‘James Blonde’; and three printed headliners ‘Sky’ (clouds), ‘Fly’ (autumn leaves) and ‘Go’ (Chequered Flag).

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    And just to round it off, there's three option packs: Two-tone ‘Black’ or ‘White Pack’, flamboyant ‘Twisted Pack’ and bold ‘Extreme Pack’. "Enough already," I hear you cry from behind your sofa.

    The Adam also introduces Vauxhall's the new on-board infotainment system, IntelliLink: it's a £275 option on all Adams. This clever system integrates the owner’s smartphone (Android and Apple iOS) with the car, making internet based applications available on the facia mounted touch screen.

    The Adam cabin's a comfortable place to be. Its width ensures there's plenty of front elbow room, and it's actually surprisingly spacious.

    Standard kit in the Glam includes DAB radio, Bluetooth, cruise control, USB input, colour touchscreen and panoramic sunroof.

    The colour touch-screen is easy and logical to use, and Vauxhall will offer a smartphone-based satnav app. To be honest, the pre-production model they supplied in the international launch cars was plagued with software issues which left a number of the journalists lost … and rather infuriated in the centre of Lisbon.

    Vauxhall/Opel has promised to have the glitches sorted before Adam enters UK showrooms on March 8, though the car is available to order now. Back to the interior. While there's plenty of space for front occupants, as I said earlier, the rear is ideally only suited for storage.

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    Over the course of the two days, I drove three different cars, all with the same engine and trim level. While two were fun, one was decidedly poor: underpowered, wheezy and noisy.

    It's not the fastest thing on the road: 12.5secs to 0-62mph, and all three were noisy on the motorway. It's screaming out for a sixth gear.

    Given there's no diesel in the range, the petrol's fuel figures of 55.4mpg and 119g/km of CO2 attractive. Interestingly, a new 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol, fitted with new six-speed manual gearbox, will follow later in 2013.

    Overall, despite genuinely wanting to like it — and the car is eye-catching and appealing — the Adam proved, overall, to be disappointing.

    Sure it looks good, and it has a lot going for it, but certainly at the moment it's likely to attract that certain type of buyer, of a certain age, who just pootles round town.

    And that's about as far as you could get from the perceived buyer — young, dynamic, creative — which Vauxhall's marketing people believe will actually purchase the Adam.

    Until they instil a bit of va-va-voom, to steal a rival's description, into the Adam, it will remain disappointing, which is a pity.

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    Jim McGill

    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £13,270 / £13,270
    Engine / Power: 4cyl, 1398cc, petrol; / 87bhp
    How fast?: 0-62mph 12.5secs / Max 110mph
    How big/heavy?: L3698mm W1966mm H1484mm / Weight 1135kg
    How thirsty/CO2?: 55.4mpg combined / 199g/km
    InsGP/Road tax: n/a / n/a
    Alternatives: Fiat 500, Mini, Audi A1, Citroen DS3

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