Vauxhall's trendy little ADAM Energised model offers trendy city dwellers a more fashionable feel at an affordable price. Jonathan Crouch checks it out
Ten Second Review
Vauxhall's ADAM is a fashionable little citycar that did much to pioneer the whole concept of almost endless buyer personalisation when it comes to models in this segment. If you'd rather than the Griffin brand did the job for you though, then this 'Energised' derivative might be up your street. You have to have it with the 1.2-litre petrol engine and it comes with a pleasingly bespoke feel for the money.
The ADAM has proved to be a small but significant player in the compact car segment for Vauxhall and since it was first launched, the brand hasn't stopped continually trying to improve it. First, there was a pokier 1.0-litre direct injection turbo petrol engine. Then a 'Rocks Air' convertible bodystyle. Then an 'S' hot hatch model. And now this 'Energised' high value version. The 'Energised' package is quite a simple one to get your head around. It involves taking the most affordable 69bhp 1.2-litre petrol engine, then matching it with a classier look, 17-inch gloss black alloy wheels, part-leather seats and the Intellilink infotainment system for less than £2,000 more. Sounds promising.
So what's it like behind the wheel? Slide into the seat and there's a very different feel from that provided by a Corsa - or any other conventional supermini come to that. The commanding driving position, the big chunky MINI-like wheel, the wide, low glass area. It all makes you eager to tackle the urban jungle, with the promise of secondary road sportiness beyond. Not too much mind. In this 'Energised' derivative, you only get the feeblest 69bhp 1.2-litre non-turbo petrol engine, so performance is leisurely to say the least. 62mph from rest takes 14.9s and the engine does struggle a little with the task of pushing nearly 1.1-tonnes of ADAM up the road with any real zip. As with most models of this kind, while you'll be quite comfortable in attempting a motorway trip of a few hours, you will notice at and around the legal limit that refinement isn't quite as good as you first thought.
Design and Build
At under 3.7m in length, this ADAM is actually shorter than many citycars and a full 300mm shorter than Vauxhall's Corsa supermini. But there's more to it than that. The tall height and the considerable width - it's actually wider than a Corsa - positions it visually as a bigger car than it actually is. A clever trick, which also pays dividends inside. As in a Fiat 500, the high roof gives a spacious feel, something that here is further underlined by the greater width and glass area. But all the smoke and mirrors in the world can't create space where there isn't much and Vauxhall's claim that this design can 'comfortably seat four adults' requires for fulfilment the directive that those in the front should be very short-legged indeed. And at the wheel? The dash is dominated by the 7-inch LCD colour Intellilink infotainment system, one of the first to be able to communicate with both Apple and Android devices and applications and operable either via the touchscreen itself or through steering wheel switchgear. Out back, a prod on the rear Griffin badge reveals a 170-litre boot that lies size-wise somewhere between slightly smaller shape of a MINI and the slightly larger one of a Fiat 500.
Market and Model
The 'Energised' package adds 17-inch gloss black alloy wheels, a black roof and black exterior detailing. Plus you also get LED daytime running lights and LED tail-lights included. Inside, you'll find part-leather seats, sports pedals and the Intelliink infotainment system. The complete package costs an extra £1,845 on top of the normal car and the only extra is the optional OnStar system. Buyers get a choice of five colours but unfortunately, they can only have Vauxhall's older 1.2-litre petrol engine - you can't specify the more modern 1.0-litre direct injection unit. The one thing that isn't optional on this ADAM - and shouldn't be - is safety. This model gets the expected twin front, side and curtain airbags and ABS brakes, plus the ESP stability control that some rivals charge extra for on their baseline models. Some of the fancier safety systems borrowed from larger cars that other rivals have started offering are missing though. Obvious rivals include Fiat's 500 and ritzier versions of Volkswagen's up!
Cost of Ownership
Because this 'Energised' variant can't be had with Vauxhall's most economic 1.0 ECOTEC engine - or any sort of diesel option - the running cost returns on offer here can't be in any way exemplary. Still, a combined cycle figure of 53.3mpg and a CO2 return of 124g/km is hardly ruinous. You can monitor your progress in frugality by keeping an eye on the 'Eco Drive Assistant' - basically a section of the trip computer that monitors energy consumption and indicates when to shift up. Residuals will probably be a touch behind, say, a MINI Hatch 3-door or a Fiat 500, but perhaps only until the market adjusts to the idea of as desirable fashion-led small Vauxhall.
The tiny lifestyle city statement this car represents is a well familiar one of course, but this little Vauxhall carries it off with greater confidence in this 'Energised' guise. Of course, as with most cars of this kind, buyers must be prepared to forgo the greater space they'd have enjoyed in an ordinary run-of-the-mill supermini that would have cost much the same. Still, the growth of this particular little market niche suggest that there are many buyers out there making those sorts of choices and in meeting their needs, this is very much the kind of more interesting fashion-led product Vauxhall simply has to make for long term profitability. If it strikes a chord with you, well why not?