Vauxhall Adam hatchback performance
There are five petrol engine options: a 1.2-litre unit with 69bhp, a 1.4-litre engine with 86bhp or 99bhp, a turbocharged 1.0-litre unit with 113bhp and a turbo version of the 1.4 with 148bhp.
The 86bhp 1.4 is not too bad; it is barely any more expensive than the gutless 1.2, feels flexible enough at low revs and is fairly sprightly when you work it harder. With that in mind, it’s not worth paying more for the 99bhp version, which doesn’t feel much faster in practice.
As for the 148bhp 1.4, this is only available in the S and Rocks S models. It’s easily the fastest version but it is expensive, has high CO2 emissions and likes a drink.
The pick of the range by a long way, then, is the 1.0 turbo, since it’s fast enough, has plenty of punch from low in the rev range and is smooth for a three-cylinder engine. The only trouble is that it’s only available in expensive Slam, Rocks S and Rocks Air trims.
Ultimately, none of the Adam models is particularly fast next to rivals such as the Audi A1, D S3 or Mini, all of which offer smoother-revving engines with better performance.
Vauxhall Adam hatchback ride
Regular Adams fitted with sports suspension (standard on all but Jam and Glam trims, unless you tick the box for 17in wheels) suffer from a decidedly choppy ride and are firm enough that mid-corner bumps can have them hopping sideways. Even on the softer standard suspension and 16in wheels of the two lower trims, the Adam exhibits similar characteristics but they’re not nearly so pronounced. It’s softer on initial bump absorption, and not quite so fidgety around town, so it’s worth sacrificing the bigger wheels and lowered ride height if you value comfort.
SUV-inspired Rocks S and Rocks Air variants get an increased ride height that does make the body pitch more, but it’s still fairly easy to live with. Even so, you’ll find this model fidgeting and shimmying in all the same places as a regular Adam would.
Vauxhall Adam hatchback handling
Adams not fitted with sports suspension have lighter steering that's fine when you’re zipping around town, but the absence of any real weight inspires little confidence at speed. The heavier steering in a car with sports suspension feels more responsive, particularly at low speeds, but still fails to offer quite enough feedback and bite at higher speeds. 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.
However, exploit it a bit too enthusiastically and you’ll find that the back end feels disconcertingly unsettled when you enter a bend too fast, especially if you throw a few mid-corner bumps into the mix. All Adam models come with a ‘City’ button that makes the steering super-light for easy manoeuvring in tight parking spots.
Vauxhall Adam hatchback refinement
Most of the Adam’s engines are relatively hushed around town but become noticeably noisier at the motorway limit. The exceptions to this rule are the 1.0 and 1.4 turbocharged engines, which come with a sixth gear to keep down the revs and therefore the noise.
That said, there’s plenty of racket from the suspension, and road and wind noise are audible, if rarely problematic. The gearshift is quite rubbery-feeling, if pleasingly short of throw.