Preview: Vauxhall ADAM
THE ADAM punts Vauxhall straight into the style-led city car sector. It's striking to look at, both inside and out, and includes some features yet to be seen in this segment. The big question will be whether urban hipsters will get past this most blue-collar of badges.
Talk to anyone who really knows about cars and they'll tell you how good the latest generation Corsa is. Trouble is, the man in the street still associates the Corsa with the old vehicles that replaced the Nova and weren't particularly great.
The ADAM rides on a cutdown version of the Corsa's chassis and that can only be good news. It's been extensively re-engineered to suit the demands of the shorter wheelbase. It's ostensibly quite a simple set-up, but Vauxhall has invested years of know-how into it. Up front are a set of MacPherson struts while the rear end utilises a torsion beam set-up. Ease of use on urban roads is enhanced by a CITY mode, which increases the electronic power steering system's assistance at lower speeds.
This is a car that's going to sell largely on whether the styling chimes with new car buyers and Vauxhall certainly can't be accused of going at it half-cocked. There's a lot going on, the design work attributed to Brit Mark Adams' team in Europe. The ADAM incorporates a 'floating' roof which is visually disconnected from the body, which works particularly well with two-tone colour schemes. It looks like no other Vauxhall but still incorporates a bunch of existing styling cues, such as the Astra's wing-shaped chrome grille bar and the blade shape in the lower doors. Like MINI, Vauxhall is looking to appeal to the customer's sense of individuality in the sheer amount of colour combinations and materials.
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Wheels range from 16 inches for entry-level cars and there are 17- and 18-inch options further up the range, with a lowered sports chassis part of the deal.
Unlike many cars which offer striking exterior designs but an interior that betrays a sudden curtailment of development budget, the cabin of the ADAM is, if anything, even bolder than the exterior. There's extensive use of body-coloured trim inserts, not only on the dashboard but also reaching along the centre console and onto the steering wheel aimed at giving the interior a real riotous personality.
A seven-inch touch screen interface is the big point of interest from a technological perspective. It's both iPhone and Android compatible, and can access internet-downloaded apps in the same manner as the latest Renault Clio and Peugeot 208. Where specified, the navigation and infotainment controls are all marshalled by the touch screen. There's even a choice of headlining, including an LED-lit starlight roof trim.
If you can get past the rather unusual naming culture, it's easy to see why Vauxhall are so bullish about the ADAM range. It cherrypicks from some tried and tested chassis and engine technology and builds on that with extrovert styling and promises decent build quality. The interior moves the city car game on in several regards, including the option of a wonderful starlight roof and the intelligence of its iPhone and Android-compatible touchscreen infotainment system.
It all adds up to a very interesting choice if you're looking for a style-conscious little runabout. So don't sign the cheque for that Fiat 500 just yet. Call Pentagon Vauxhall in Derby on 01332 644213 or drop in at its showroom at Pentagon Island (DE21 6HB).