I’M STANDING in a hotel car park outside Lisbon and my head hurts. Forty different versions of Vauxhall’s new lifestyle city car, called Adam, are laid out in front of me and I’m not sure I particularly like the look of any of them. This, I suspect, is entirely the point – Vauxhall’s diminutive new city car has been designed for trendy City types to personalise to their heart’s desire. It’s no surprise that I wouldn’t have specced one quite like any of these. But with more than one million different combinations possible, I’m sure I could find something I like.
Vauxhall wants to tempt buyers away from more established “character” cars including the Audi A1, Citroen DS3, Fiat 500 and Mini. To start with you’ll need to choose which of the three different trim levels you want: “Jam” is targeted at fashionistas, “Glam” for a more sophisticated look and “Slam” for owners who fancy something a bit racier. The options alone are enough to throw your head into a spin. Once you’ve chosen which trim model you want, you then choose between twelve body colours with corny names including “Papa don’t Peach”, “Purple Fiction”, “James Blonde”, and “Buzz Lightgreen” (yes, seriously, I kid you not).
Then there is a roof colour to chose, four interior base colours, 15 different seat designs, three printed headliners – a chequered flag pattern, autumn leaves and cloudy blue sky – and 18 interior décor panels. Then choose from three option packs, three decal packages and even opt for interchangeable coloured clips which snap on to your wheels, of which there are 20 styles to choose from. You can even specify a “starlight” headliner above you which is inset with 64 separate little LEDs. And this is just the beginning. The personalisation options continue but I am scared of losing you, dear reader, before one or both of us loses the will to live. Whichever way you look at it, there’ll be plenty of head-scratching in Vauxhall dealerships across London. Can you imagine how long it will take to actually sell one?
The resulting car is certainly audacious. Not least because launching such a car is risky. It is divisive even without mentioning what really is a quite awful name. From the outside, the Adam has a look all of its own. The floating roof is undoubtedly its best exterior feature but the car also has wing-shaped daytime running lights and a scallop-shaped “shock wave” around the door handles. The result is a cheeky little car that looks stylish on the road. But the real glamour is in the interior. The cabin is a master stroke, with a style that is truly innovative and the material quality, fit and finish is extraordinary for a car at this price. When specced well, the interior looks great and is roomier than it has any business being. The boot, though, is small. You’ll not get more than a weekend’s worth of luggage for two in there.
Connectivity is also a key feature for this car. Instead of installing a navigation system into the dash, owners can opt for a satnav app that they can download to their iPhone before docking with the car. It’s a clever solution, but in our test cars it sent us all over the place and was obviously unfinished, speaking in indecipherable digibabble.
If only driving it was a little more fun. Available with a choice of three petrol engines – 1.2-litre 70PS, 1.4-litre 87PS and 1.4-litre 100PS – I had the chance to drive the 1.4-litre 87PS with a sportier, firmer chassis option. You have to work the underpowered 87PS engine hard and its not helped by a gearbox that could really benefit from an extra gear. Handling though is better, even if the ride was a bit clunky at times on Portuguese roads.
Not that it should matter to potential owners – Vauxhall hopes to attract the kind of trendy people that spend thousands personalising bicycles that lack performance but look great. The question is: will those people find that the Adam offers substance as well as style?
GLAM 1.4 ECOFLEX
0-62MPH: 12.5 secs
TOP SPEED: 110mph
CO2 G/KM: 119g/km
MPG COMBINED: 55.4mpg
VALUE FOR MONEY ***