IT’S a funny little name for a car, Adam. But then Vauxhall’s new take on the compact, uber-personalisable market is a funny little car.
Banish any thoughts that Vauxhall, which is usually pretty good at thinking up names, is running out of ideas, it’s not. ‘Adam’ pays homage to Adam Opel, the company’s founder.
This method of choosing a name is not unheard of in the motoring world. Look at Ferrari’s former flagship, the Enzo - again, named after the founder of the Italian supercar giant.
But this new Vauxhall isn’t a fire-breathing hypercar. Not by any stretch of the imagination. In much the same way that ‘Adam’ isn’t quite such dramatic and ‘cool’ name as ‘Enzo’.
But it’s still quite a cool car. in fact its dumpy, buck-toothed looks are only the start of the story.
One of the Adam’s headlines is that buyers can choose from a staggering 33,000 potential combinations of colours, add-ons and options to make their new purchase stand out and reflect their style.
This, in theory, means that no two Adams will be alike and that sets it off on the right foot. And that’s a good thing because it’s a tad late to the party and has some stiff competition.
In the right colour, and with the right choice of wheels and contrasting roof, it actually looks really good. It’s deceptively big but that makes for a spacious cabin and, although it’s a bit of a departure from Vauxhall’s current attractive design direction, there’s plenty of familiar design cues - not least the Astra GTC-style slashes around the door handles.
Inside, it’s largely good news too. Aside from the generous space in the front, there’s plenty of good storage options.
It’s pokey in the back but visibility is good and the boot is nice and deep and the seats split-fold.
The driving position is good and the seats comfortable and everything is nicely laid out with plenty of modern touches.
There are three model variants to kick off your option-ticking marathon, starting with the colourful ‘Jam’, working its way through the more elegant ‘Glam’ and ending with the sporty ‘Slam’ - which I’ve been testing.
The standard spec is good on all models My test model, a Glam, came with the 87PS 1.4 EcoFlex engine and it’s not without its charms, but ultimately feels a bit archaic in the fresh-faced Adam.
There’s also a 1.2, 70PS engine to kick the range off at £11,255 in the Jam but, unless you’re on a strict budget or need to make room for big wheels or garish colours somewhere, I’d plump for a bit more grunt.
Ignoring, for a moment, that 1.4 engine really could do with a sixth gear ratio, it takes a bit of work to get the best out of it and, with the revs up, it’s quite harsh.
It is also available in a healthier 100ps version, I must add.
Fuel economy, however, is one of its strong points. Helped along by a very good stop/start system I managed to dip in and out of the 50mpg bracket Even considering my heavy right foot trying to get the best out of the engine that was pretty good.
Vauxhall has responded to some of the criticism over its sketchy engine line-up by announcing a new small engine for the range - but there’s still no sign of a diesel, which I suspect would tempt plenty of buyers.
There’s better news to be had from the steering and chassis combination.
It handles fairly well and, while the steering lacks a bit of feel, it’s light and direct and can be made even lighter with the ‘city’ button.
Sadly for the Adam there are more thrills to be had from the likes of the Citroen DS3 or a Mini but I think it stacks up well against another rival, the Fiat 500 - especially in its individuality and style.
And that’s what the Adam is all about. Vauxhall might be trying to peddle a sporty model in the Slam edition but it’s never going to set your heart racing.
But what it lacks in excitement it makes up for in flair and presence on the road. And that’s what it’s all about, after all.
Model tested: Glam ecoFLEX Start/Stop, priced at £13,270
Engine: 1.4i 16V VVT, delivering 87PS
Size: (L) 3,698mm, (W) 1,720mm, (H) 1,484mm
Maximum speed: 109mph
0-62mph: 12.5 secs
Efficiency (mpg) Urban: 42.8, Extra-urban: 67.3,
Boot space: 170 litres (seats up)