2013 Vauxhall Adam 1.2 Jam review

* Adam is new Fiat 500 and Mini rival * Entry-level model tested in UK * On sale now, priced from 11,255...

2013 Vauxhall Adam 1.2 Jam review
12 Feb 2013 10:58

The new Vauxhall Adam is the company's answer to small, chic hatchbacks such as the Fiat 500, Mini and Volkswagen Up.

Our early impressions of the car haven't been entirely positive, but until now all the versions we've driven have been fitted with optional sports suspension and big alloys.

So, does this entry-level 1.2 model on standard suspension and smaller wheels do enough to turn things around?

What's the 2013 Vauxhall Adam like to drive?
Adams fitted with optional sports suspension and 17-inch wheels suffer from a decidedly choppy ride. This stiffness doesn't help its handling on poor roads, either, because the car tends to hop sideways whenever it encounters a mid-corner bump or drain cover.

However, even on standard suspension and 16-inch wheels, the Adam exhibits similar characteristics, but the good news is they're not nearly so pronounced.

The bad news is the steering on the entry-level Adam is lighter than on versions fitted with sports suspension. That's fine when you're zipping around town, but the absence of any real weight doesn't inspire confidence at speed.

It's a shame because, if you're prepared to push beyond this vagueness and trust the car, there's quite a bit of grip to exploit.

The entry-level 1.2-litre petrol is the best engine in the Adam range. Granted, it's not going to set the road on fire, but it's happy to rev and is far less jerky around town than the 1.4-litre engines, both on and off the throttle.

Unfortunately, to boost responsiveness, Vauxhall has had to match the engine to rather low gearing. This, combined with the lack of a sixth gear, means the smaller engine has to work hard on the motorway and is quite noisy as a result.

What's the 2013 Vauxhall Adam like inside?
The driving position is good, the seats are comfortable and the dashboard layout is reasonably well designed.

There are intuitive controls for the air-conditioning and a user-friendly touch-screen interface called 'Intellilink', which can link with your smartphone.

The choice of materials and solid construction make the Adam's interior feel classy, too. However, your view of some of the dashboard buttons is blocked by the steering wheel, and over-the-shoulder visibility isn't great because of the Adam's chunky rear pillars.

Practicality is a bigger issue. Head- and legroom are so tight in the rear seats that even children will feel hemmed in. Adults will be downright uncomfortable assuming they can squeeze in at all and the boot is pretty pokey, although no smaller than a Mini's.

However, none of that is what's going to sell the Adam. Instead, it's the fact that you can tailor the car so precisely to your requirements that you could drive it for the rest of your days and never see another that's quite the same.

Firstly, you have to choose from one of three trims: Jam, Glam or Slam. Jam models are reasonably priced (starting at 11,255) and come with all the essentials, but there's a hefty jump of 1395 for more luxurious Glam models, while range-topping Slam trim adds a further 500 to the price.

Next, you pick from 12 paint colours, with names including 'Saturday White Fever', 'Papa don't Peach' and 'James Blonde'. To this you add a roof colour from a choice of 'Men in Brown', 'I'll be Black' or 'White my fire', followed by (if you so desire) exterior decal packs called Splat, Fly and Stripes.

If you can't be bothered with all that, you can simply add accessory packs with names such as 'Twisted' and 'Extreme', which combine various set elements from the options list. Then all you have to do is select one of 20 wheel designs and you're done with the exterior at least.

Inside, there are a further dozen colours and numerous dashboard surrounds that should you get bored or want to tone down the car before selling it can be changed at your local dealer for 75.

Finally, there's the roof lining; you can have a sunroof, or 60 LED lights set out in celestial constellations, clouds, leaves or a black and white chessboard.

Should I buy one?
The Vauxhall Adam isn't cheap; even the entry-level 1.2 costs 11,255, and if you start going wild with personalisation options you'll be spending a lot more than that.

Discounts will be relatively modest by Vauxhall standards, too, and to make matters worse the Adam isn't expected to hold its value as well as a Fiat 500 or a Mini.

In summary, then, the Adam is neither as good nor as affordable as the best city cars. However, if you're smitten by the looks and the myriad personalisation options, the 1.2-litre engine and standard suspension is definitely the way to go.

What Car? says...

Fiat 500
Volkswagen Up

Read the full Vauxhall Adam review>>

Engine size 1.2-litre petrol
Price from 11,255
Power 69bhp
Torque 85lb ft
0-62mph 14.9sec
Top speed 103mph
Fuel economy 53.3mpg
CO2 g/km 124g/km

By Pete Tullin