Review

Vauxhall Adam hatchback

Price  £11,960 - £18,895

Vauxhall Adam hatchback

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Options plentiful and affordable
  • Good-quality fit and finish
  • Stylish, smart design
Cons
  • Firm ride quality
  • Not very practical
  • Inefficient engines

At a glance

The greenest
UNLIMITED 1.0i 115PS Turbo S/S ecoFLEX 3dr £14,160
The cheapest
JAM 1.2i 70PS 3dr £11,960
The fastest
S 1.4i 150PS Turbo S/S 3dr £17,475
Top of the range
ROCKS S 1.4T 150PS S/S 3dr £18,895

"Style and extensive scope for customisation compensate for the Vauxhall Adam’s uncomfortable suspension and tiny boot"

There was a time when bespoke interior and exterior trim was confined to supercars and luxury limousines for the super-rich, but cars like the Vauxhall Adam have changed that. Along with rivals like the Fiat 500, MINI and Renault Clio, it's following the trend for personalisation favoured by today's young car buyers.

It's certainly appealing in the showroom, but you need to be careful not to go overboard, as you could either spend a lot more than you intended, or create a car so ‘unique’ that no-one will want to buy it secondhand – or both!

Turning to more conventional matters, the Adam offers a choice of 1.0, 1.2 and 1.4-litre petrol power, while there's also an Adam S ‘warm hatchback’ with a more powerful 1.4-litre. If you want a diesel, you’re out of luck, but the 111bhp 1.0-litre petrol is both economical and cheap to tax. It's the most expensive engine in the range, though, so you have to weigh the running costs savings against the higher list price compared to the 1.0 and 1.2-litre engines.

Handling is adequate but not great, the steering isn’t the most sensitive and ride quality can be quite harsh – simply put, there are both more comfortable and more fun-to-drive cars out there. Practicality isn’t particularly impressive, either, due to cramped back seats and a smaller boot than even the Fiat 500. The cabin is attractive and high-quality, though – something you can’t say for all the Adam's rivals in this class.

To start off with, Adam buyers pick from one of three core trim leves: Jam, Glam and Slam. All get a pretty decent amount of standard kit, including alloys, air-con, Bluetooth, a CD player, a USB port for your MP3 player and cruise control, plus a stereo with steering-wheel-mounted controls and built-in DAB digital radio. The Slam adds larger alloy wheels and sports suspension, making the car a bit more involving to drive. There's also a new model called the Adam Energised, based on entry-level Jam spec. It comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, black roof, black exterior trim and LED daytime running lights on the outside, plus a few choice extras from higher up the range on the inside.

But the choice of trim level is just the start – the Adam's options list includes things like styling and equipment packs, a fancy touchscreen infotainment system and numerous interior and exterior colour choices. If it's all too overwhelming, the Vauxhall website can show you some popular combinations that look smart without going overboard.

Vauxhall also offers the Adam in Unlimited and Rocks Unlimited trims. Unlimited adds 16-inch alloy wheels, daytime running lights, a leather steering wheel and the option of specifying wireless phone charging. Rocks Unlimited, meanwhile, brings a host of styling tweaks that Vauxhall hopes will make the Adam more of an urban crossover. A raised ride height, together with 18-inch alloy wheels and more pronounced bumpers certainly make the Adam look tougher, but they don’t actually add any off-road ability. Considering it costs about £4,000 more than an entry-level Jam model, the Adam Rocks Unlimited seems expensive. You do, at least, get an electrically folding canvas roof, as well as some extra chrome trim and LED daytime running lights thrown into the deal.

The Adam has a solid reliability record and feels well built. It scored four out of five stars when crash-tested by Euro NCAP – not perfect but by no means a disgrace when you consider many small cars are similarly rated by the testing body's very stringent procedures. Standard safety equipment is impressive all the same: you get hill-start assistance, electronic stability control and six airbargs.

MPG, running costs & CO2

3.2 / 5

The Vauxhall Adam isn't quite as good as rivals when it comes to CO2 emissions and fuel economy

Engines, drive & performance

3.2 / 5

The Vauxhall Adam offers lots of grip, but dull steering and a firm ride spoil the fun

Interior & comfort

3.8 / 5

The Vauxhall Adam looks classy inside, with plenty of scope for customisation

Practicality & boot space

3 / 5

The Vauxhall Adam is great for short hops, but a small boot and rear seats rule out longer-distance adventures

Reliability & safety

3 / 5

Decent customer satisfaction, but the Vauxhall Adam has a disappointing crash-test score

What the others say

3.3 / 5
based on 3 reviews
4 / 5
"The Adam is a smart and fun-filled city car. It's exciting to drive with a bold image that takes in-car customisation and gadgets to new heights for this class."
3 / 5
"The Vauxhall Adam has bags of style and luxury equipment, and a classy cabin. However, the versions we’ve driven so far are just too uncomfortable to recommend."
3 / 5
"Rivals including the MINI and the Audi A1 are all better to drive than the Vauxhall Adam. Even though the large majority of buyers will love the light steering, the lack of feedback takes all the sense of enjoyment away from the driver."
What owners say 
4.125
4.1 /5 based on 8 reviews
88%
 of people would recommend this car to a friend

Owner rating:

3 star   0
1 star   0

Common problems:

Last updated 
24 Nov 2015
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