Opel Adam hatchback (2012 - 2019)
NCAP Rating 4 / 5
The Opel Adam was the German company’s attempt to cash in on the trend for customisable city cars and superminis, a movement that was at its peak at the turn of the last decade. Launched in 2012, it sat on a shortened version of the Corsa’s platform and formed a three-strong small cars range with the Corsa itself and also the later-released Opel Karl, a budget city machine. The Adam was the stylish one, though, with contrast roof options and loads of funky interior graphics. Sold only as a three-door machine throughout its life, there was the regular hatchback, the crossover Adam Rocks (and Rocks Air) and then a faster model, the Adam S. Sadly, however, the Adam will be limited to one generation of car – Opel has no plans to replace it.
Aside from some strange names for some of the paint schemes and design element colours, the Adam originally launched with a choice of 1.2-litre and 1.4-litre normally aspirated petrol engines, these delivering 70hp (1.2), or either 87- or 100hp (1.4). Drive went to the front wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox and the trim levels were named Jam, Glam and Slam. The Adam was improved immeasurably in 2014, when the off-road-styled Adam Rocks joined the line-up. However, it wasn’t the chunky bumpers, black plastic cladding and 15mm higher ride height (this did improve the Adam ’s ride comfort, mind) that made the Rocks such an enjoyable car – and it wasn’t even the Adam Rocks Air model’s cool folding canvas roof, either. No, it was the super-sweet three-cylinder turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol engine that was introduced here, which made either 90- or 115hp. This little motor was a gem and it was subsequently offered in the regular Adam , so if you’re after the best engine of all, this is the one. At the top of the Adam tree, and launched in 2015, the Adam S used a turbocharged 1.4-litre engine with 150hp and 220Nm to deliver 0-100km/h in 8.5 seconds and a top speed of 210km/h. It was reasonably fun to drive, felt as quick in reality as its on-paper stats promised and looked smart, but the low-speed ride was particularly unforgiving; in turn, a rather unforgiveable transgression for a car that was primarily built to operate in a city. All of the Rocks, Rocks Air and S models came with a six-speed manual gearbox, to make the most of their turbocharged torque.
Anything with that 1.0-litre turbo engine, really. The Rocks Air is the best bet, because it looks good, rides sweetly and has that full-length, sliding fabric section in the roof to make it a most curious mix: a semi-convertible off-road-ready chic supermini city car.
Engine: 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Maximum speed: 195km/h
0-100km/h: 9.9 seconds
Fuel consumption: 5.1 litres/100km
• Quirky looks
• Rocks’ smooth ride
• Great little 1.0-litre engine
• Tough ride on some models, particularly the S
• Utterly daft paint/option names
• No variant drives that well
There are better city cars and superminis available than the Opel Adam , which was a valiant effort at a Fiat 500/MINI rival but one that wasn’t executed to the highest possible standards. However, avoid the gutless 1.2- and 1.4-litre petrol launch engines and aim at the three-cylinder cars or the quick S model, and you’ll have a decent and stylish enough little run-around that’s not as obvious a choice as some of its rivals.