While it might be a case of back to the future for the retro-styled superminis from Mini and Fiat, Vauxhall has entered the competitive fray with a totally modern compact.
However, just to prove that they too have heritage, the new Vauxhall carries the forename of the founder of their German partner, Adam Opel.
The four-seater hatchback is Vauxhall's first entrant into a segment that has grown by 30% since 2000 and where to succeed means that you must be noticed. And with Adam,
Vauxhall has certainly succeeded in a car that oozes personality as well as individuality.
Engine choices will be phased in and include a new small turbocharged unit but initially cars will come with either a 1.2 litre 70PS engine or a choice of 1.4 litre units of 87PS or 100PS outputs. No diesel or electric power units are planned for the Adam.
Test choice was what will be the dominant seller, the 87PS 1.4 litre model which was finished in top trim with the larger 17-inch wheels and sports suspension. On road, this engine provides sufficient gusto to maintain pace, but while responsive in fifth gear at motorway speeds, it feels in need of a sixth gear to drop the revs for more relaxed cruising.
On winding ‘B' roads, the sports suspension, along with the car's wide track, provide excellent cornering support.
The electric power steering on the test car was well weighted for open road driving and for tight manoeuvring situations in town.
Inside, a relatively wide body gives an airy feeling up-front while the modern interior with high-quality finishing adds to the appeal. Wide doors provide excellent access to both front and rear, but as small cars go, rear seating accommodation for two adults is neat, and the boot is also compact.
However, there is much more to the car aimed specifically at the younger buyer, including the ‘IntelliLink', a new infotainment system which connects the owner’s smart phone to the car, transferring controls and content to the car's seven-inch full colour touch screen display. In addition to the phone and music elements, stored photos and video can be viewed when the car is stationary. Among the internet-based apps that can be accessed are ‘Stitcher' — the global podcast internet radio and ‘BringGo', a navigation app which provides full European mapping and navigation.
Trim-wise, the Adam is available in three options: Jam, Glam and Slam. Air conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity, alloy wheels and leather steering wheel with integrated audio and cruise control buttons are all standard as are twin front, side and curtain airbags, electronic stability programme, hill start assist and cruise control with speed limiter.
In addition there is the largest personalisation choice ever offered by a manufacturer which includes roof colours, a range of 20 alloy wheels, individual dashboard covers and even roof linings that feature blue sky with clouds or starry night with 64 LEDs.
Overall, the Vauxhall Adam looks set to be a serious contender in the company’s first foray into this sector of the market. The car has the charm, quality and youth appeal.
The new model is due in showrooms on March 8 next year, but the order book is now open.
While the range opens at £11,255 for the 1.2 litre 70PS model, the car tested in top Slam specification is listed at £13,475.
Engine: 1.4 litre, petrol unit, 87PS @ 6000rpm. 130Nm torque @ 4000rpm.
Drive: Via five-speed manual gearbox to front wheels.
Performance: 0-62mph (100km/h) in 12.5 seconds; max, 110mph (176km/h)
Fuel on combined cycle: 51.4 mpg (5.5 l/100km)
CO2: 129gms/km; VED Band D for annual car tax
Trim: Slam (The sporty version)
Warranty: Three-year/60,000 miles, six years’ anti-perforation cover and one-year roadside assistance and recovery. Unlimited time/100,000 miles for first-time sole ownership.
Euro NCAP: N/A
Available extras: Metallic paint, £525; extreme carbon exterior pack, £200; winter pack (heated seats, heated steering wheel), £215; multi-colour interior ambient lighting pack, £125; fixed glass sunroof, £500; rear parking sensors, £275; illuminated headliner, £325; alternative interior trim panels (dash, door cappings, central console), £70.
The ‘IntelliLink' system connects the owner’s smart phone to the car, transferring controls and content to its seven-inch colour touch screen display