Review

Vauxhall Adam hatchback

Price  £11,455 - £15,350

Vauxhall Adam hatchback

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Cute, with lots of personalisation options
  • Well priced, with affordable options
  • Quality is good
Cons
  • Not much space for rear passengers
  • Ride can feel a bit hard
  • Engines aren’t especially economical

At a glance

The greenest
JAM 1.0 Turbo 115PS S/S 3dr £13,455
The cheapest
JAM 1.2i 16v VVT 3dr £11,455
The fastest
SLAM 1.0 Turbo 115PS S/S 3dr £15,350
Top of the range
SLAM 1.0 Turbo 115PS S/S 3dr £15,350

"There so many ways to tailor the Vauxhall Adam city car to suit you that it makes the MINI feel old-fashioned."

The Vauxhall Adam was designed as a trendy small hatchback that would compete with models such as the Fiat 500 and the more expensive three-door MINI.

As with the Fiat and the MINI, the Vauxhall Adam comes with a huge list of customisable options that means it's easy to end up with a car that is completely unique, if you don’t mind splashing your cash on the options list.

The Adam is aimed squarely at younger buyers, so all are cheap to run. The range is soon to be joined by a super efficient 1.0-litre petrol engine that could well be the pick of the bunch - a sporty Vauxhall Adam S is also on the cards.

The Adam can be specced in one of three base levels of trim: Adam JAM, Adam GLAM and Adam SLAM. All models get cruise control and a digital radio.

MPG, running costs & CO2

3.2 / 5

Economy and emissions are merely average

The Vauxhall Adam is currently available with a choice of 1.2-litre and 1.4-litre petrol engines, but a more efficient 1.0-litre petrol will join the range soon and will be the best option if cheap running costs are your top priority.

As it stands, the cheapest engine to run is the 1.2-litre fitted with ecoFLEX. It means the car gets stop-start technology that stops the engine when the car is stationary, before restarting it almost instantly when you attempt to move off. With this technology , the Adam can return 56.5mpg and emissions that mean you’ll pay road tax of just £30 every year. Get the 1.4-litre with ecoFLEX and performance is much brisker, while road tax will cost the same, and the difference in economy is marginal.

Vauxhall is also offering fixed-service plans at the moment, which mean monthly payments of as little as £15 for your car's scheduled maintenance.

Interior & comfort

2.6 / 5

Comfy seats and a good driving position

The Adam has light doors that open wide, so getting in the front shouldn’t be an issue. Some may find the seats up front a bit shallow – offering less thigh support than you might like – but plenty of adjustment for the steering wheel and the driver's seat means getting comfortable behind the wheel shouldn’t be an issue.

The Adam's high level of customisation means you can also spec up the interior, with luxury items such as leather seats and Vauxhall's starlight roof. Previously only available on Rolls Royce cars, the starlight roof is supposed to simulate a night sky, with sparkly but unobtrusive LEDs in the car's roof lining.

Practicality & boot space

3.0 / 5

Poor rear space, small boot. But is that important?

While there's plenty of space up front in the Adam, the back seat is tight, but no worse than you would get in a MINI or Fiat 500. As with the MINI and the Fiat, the Vauxhall can’t be had with five doors so getting to the rear bench means squeezing behind the front seats.

At just 170 litres, the boot isn’t particularly big either - smaller than both the Fiat's and the MINI's, while the high load lip means large items (that can fit) will be tricky to get in. The Adam does present a decent number of storage areas though, including an area below the central console, cupholders between the front seats, a decent glovebox, and generously-sized doorbins.

Reliability & safety

3.0 / 5

Strong quality and improving customer service

We’ve said in the past that Vauxhall's build quality appears to be on the up and the Adam conforms to this theory – it was the highest ranking Vauxhall in our 2014 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey. The Adam did better than average for reliability and finished 23rd out of the 150 cars we evaluated. Vauxhall's ‘lifetime’ warranty, which covers the car for 100,000 miles, should go a very long way to allay any fears you may have.

In 2013, the Vauxhall Adam only achieved four-stars when it was tested for safety by Euro NCAP – compared to the Fiat 500 that got five stars in its less stringent 2009 test. The Vauxhall was marked down for offering only marginal protection for whiplash in a rear impact. Nonetheless, it does have six airbags, seatbelt warning buzzers, and electronic stability control as standard.

Engines, drive & performance

3.2 / 5

Not as much fun as a MINI, but still feels sporty

The Vauxhall Adam was developed in the UK, which means it's been tuned to deal with the roads here, so its suspension does a good job of soaking up bumps and broken surfaces. It can be a little firm at times but that, combined with the car's responsive steering, means that the Adam is fun to drive round corners. City streets are where the Adam was designed to perform best, though, and its small size makes it ideal for navigating tight spaces.

None of the current models are very fast but the Adam S, which made a production-ready appearance at the Geneva Motor Show, should go on sale soon and would be the model to go for if you want sporty performance.

Price, value for money & options

3.2 / 5

Surprisingly affordable for the quality; cheap options

The basic Adam Jam costs more than a Fiat 500, but less than an entry-level MINI. It comes well specced with air conditioning, a digital radio, a Bluetooth phone connection, and cruise control. The Adam's options list is long, competitively priced, and includes items such as an infotainment system (offering support for a cheap sat-nav app), the starlight roof, as well as a whole raft of visual additions that can give your Adam its own distinct style. Opt for the top-of-the-range Adam Slam and you get climate control, sports suspension, and the option to spec large 18-inch alloy wheels.

The Adam is a relatively new model, so discounts may be few and far between, but it doesn’t hurt to haggle and Vauxhall also offers affordable finance deals.

What the others say

3.5 / 5
based on 2 reviews
  • 4.0 / 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 market. But the cramped rear and lack of a sub-100g/km model could put off buyers who are already spoiled for choice."
  • 3.0 / 5
    "Add a few options (let's face it, you probably won't be able to resist) and you'll be looking at the thick end of £12,000. Discounts will also be relatively modest by Vauxhall standards, because dealer margins are smaller than on the company's larger models. However, if the Adam establishes itself as a fashion icon, that high price won't be a deal-breaker, because you'll get a lot of your cash back when you sell. Besides, the Adam takes the art of car customisation to an entirely new level."

Last updated 
29 Apr 2014

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