Vauxhall Adam hatchback

Price  £11,630 - £17,245

Vauxhall Adam hatchback

reviewed by Carbuyer

  • Stylish design
  • Good-quality finish
  • Many affordable options available
  • Inefficient engines
  • Firm ride quality
  • Poor practicality

At a glance

The greenest
SLAM 1.0i Dir Inj Tur 115PS S/S ecoFLEX 3dr £15,880
The cheapest
JAM 1.2i 70PS 3dr £11,860
The fastest
S 1.4i 150PS Turbo S/S 3dr £17,375
Top of the range
S 1.4i 150PS Turbo S/S 3dr £17,375

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

Although the Vauxhall Adam is a fairly conventional three-door supermini from a mainstream carmaker, the chances are you’ll never see two that look exactly the same. That's because the model makes personalisation its number-one priority, with thousands of colour, trim and option permutations available.

This isn't a unique approach, of course. Rivals including the Renault Clio and Fiat 500 are ripe for personalisation, too – but none takes the approach to quite the same level as the Adam. However, a major downside to all this personalising is that it could lead you to spend a lot more money than you intended, in the process creating a car that's so personal, only you appreciate it. That could be an expensive problem when you eventually come to sell.

Adams are powered by a choice of 1.0, 1.2 and 1.4-litre petrol engines. The ‘warm’ Adam S is powered by a more powerful 1.4-litre and there's no diesel in the line-up. Our favourite engine is the 111bhp 1.0-litre. It's sporty, economical and cheap to tax, but it's around £1,000 more expensive than the 1.4-litre and almost £2,000 dearer than the slow 1.2-litre. Whatever – it suits the Adam's fun character very well. What doesn’t work so well is the handling, which is safe and predictable, but hardly sporty. The steering isn't very sensitive and the suspension is a little too firm, so you feel every bump in the road.

The car isn’t all that practical, either. It's roomy enough in the front, but the rear seats are cramped and the boot is smaller even than a Fiat 500's. It has a high loading lip, too, so getting awkward loads in the back is a chore. At least the cabin looks classy and inviting, even without going mad with the options list, while the driving position is very comfortable.

There are three core versions on which to build your very personal Adam – the Jam, Glam and Slam – plus a sporty Adam S. Standard equipment is generous across all four, with even the basic Jam having alloy wheels, air-conditioning, Bluetooth phone connectivity, a CD player, a USB port, DAB digital radio, cruise control and stereo controls on the steering wheel.

Our pick of the range is the Slam, which has larger alloy wheels and sports suspension. Although it's firmer than the standard set-up, it brings a little more fun to the driving experience.

Options are the key to Adam ownership – and there are plenty of them. Highlights include a touchscreen entertainment system and a range of styling and equipment packs. Fortunately, the Popular Designs section of the Vauxhall website offers helpful guidance on choosing the right mix without going overboard.

The Adam's reliability record is good, at least by the standards of most Vauxhalls. Owners think it feels well built. Unfortunately, Euro NCAP awarded it only four out of a possible five stars for crash safety; its poor performance in rear impacts the main reason. Otherwise, its standard safety kit is reasonably impressive and includes hill-hold assist, six airbags and electronic stability control.

MPG, running costs & CO2

3.2 / 5

The Vauxhall Adam has CO2 emissions and fuel economy that are worse than many of its rivals’

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 /5 based on 7 reviews
 of people would recommend this car to a friend

Owner rating:

3 star   0
1 star   0

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Last updated 
24 Sep 2015
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