In-depth Reviews

Vauxhall Adam hatchback (2013-2019)

"The Vauxhall Adam is a quirky model with a huge list of fun options, but practicality and comfort aren’t top of its list of attributes"

Carbuyer Rating

2.6 out of 5

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Owners Rating

3.1 out of 5

Read owner reviews

Pros

  • Options plentiful and affordable
  • Good-quality fit and finish
  • Stylish, smart design

Cons

  • Firm ride quality
  • Not very practical
  • Inefficient engines

The Vauxhall Adam is a characterful rival to stylish city cars like the Fiat 500, MINI Hatchback and DS 3. It prioritises quirky design and individual options over practicality.

Even working within the tight restrictions of safety regulations and the automated way modern cars are built, Vauxhall offers around 80,000 possibilities for the interior and 60,000 individual exterior combinations, most of which are cosmetic. This means it’s possible your Adam will be different to every other one built, even though Vauxhall is hardly a small company.

The Adam’s looks are undoubtedly the main reason buyers will choose the car, but like its rivals, its quirky styling doesn’t come without sacrifices. Most quickly apparent are a lack of luggage space, small back seats and suspension that sends too many jolts into the cabin. If you want a diesel engine, you’ll also be out of luck.

It’s also best to avoid the entry-level 1.2-litre petrol with 69bhp, because it takes a tardy 14.9 seconds to get from 0-62mph, yet can only manage 53.3mpg as standard, increasing to 57.6mpg with stop-start fitted. Not only does this engine struggle to keep up with traffic, company-car drivers won’t find its 24% Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) band (22% with stop-start) very appealing.

The larger 1.4-litre petrol comes with either 86 or 99bhp, returning 52.3mpg (24% BiK) or 56.5mpg (22% BiK) with ecoFLEX stop-start. Acceleration figures drop to 12.5 and 11.5 seconds respectively, making the 1.4-litre Adam better able to perform away from city streets, while still being relatively slow.

Despite its smaller size, the 1.0-litre is our favourite engine, because this modern three-cylinder with a turbocharger produces 113bhp and can manage 60.1mpg. Not only is it faster than the bigger engines, getting from 0-62mph in 9.9 seconds, it’s more fun to drive and more attractive to company-car drivers thanks to its 108g/km of CO2 emissions putting it in the 20% BiK band.

The range-topping Adam S gets a turbocharged 1.4-litre with 148bhp, which makes for a lively car, accelerating from 0-62mph in 8.5 seconds. It’s good fun, but at over £18,000 it costs a similar amount to the Ford Fiesta ST, which is far more capable in terms of performance and driving fun. Get too enthusiastic with the options and an Adam S could easily cost over £20,000.

From behind the wheel, it’s hard not to be disappointed with the Adam. The entry-level versions are sluggish, the steering is vague and the stiff suspension and large wheels make it uncomfortable. It’s at its best in town, where its light steering can be helpful.

The dashboard and cabin are quite attractive, with reasonable-quality plastics and a modern, rather than retro, vibe. Those sitting in the front get plenty of leg and headroom, but the rear seats can be a challenge for adults and are better suited to kids or a few shopping bags. Headroom is limited, as is kneeroom, and the 170-litre boot is also disappointing, failing to match even the Fiat 500, which is hardly practical itself.

At the heart of the Adam line-up you’ll find the entry-level Jam, mid-range Glam and top-spec Slam trim levels. Air-conditioning, 16-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth and even cruise control are standard on the Jam, while Glam adds LED daytime running lights, a fixed sunroof and climate control. Slam gets 17-inch alloys, firmer suspension, contrasting roof colour and Vauxhall’s OnStar service, which connects the car to assistance and concierge services while also adding a wi-fi hot spot. It’s worth noting the 1.0-litre is only available with the Slam trim, while the Adam S gets its own kit roster.

If you want an Adam with a tougher look, the Vauxhall Adam Rocks has more ground clearance and crossover-style bumpers, with a retractable fabric roof if you go for the Rocks Air. You can also choose an Unlimited Adam with more options for personalisation, along with the Adam Energised, which adds a black roof, larger alloy wheels and LED running lights to the Jam trim for an affordable but stylish Adam. There's also a Black Jack version of the Energised trim that adds even more black styling parts.

With just about every Adam, you can customise numerous parts of the interior and exterior trim, even adding body graphics and changing the roof colour to stand out from other owners. To enhance the ownership experience, we’d recommend the infotainment system with a touchscreen, which represents good value and works well.

The Adam should prove reliable, taking 64th spot out of 150 cars in our 2016 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, but its four-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating is only average.

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