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John Swift road tests the Vauxhall Adam

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: July 23, 2014

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The Vauxhall ADAM has one big problem and it's this – it is being pitched into a market against the likes of such hugely capable cars as the Fiat 500, MINI and the Citroen DS3.

These are all little hatchbacks which are economical, affordable, reasonably practical, but above all they provide style, fun and some panache both from behind the wheel and on the driveway at home.

They are all tough cars to beat, and to do so the ADAM has to serve up something pretty special.

It gets off to a good start with the looks because, to my eye, the ADAM may not be as cute as the Fiat, but it beats the other two on styling.

It is sharply defined with clean cut lines, and I have always thought this one of its best aspects.

And, like MINI, Vauxhall has fully embraced the personalisation programme and there is an absolutely huge number of colour and trim permutations.

It is virtually limitless, with different fascia colours, roof linings, seat coverings, and that's just the inside.

So far so good, but even though you can jazz up the interior, it does not hide the fact that the rear seats on this car are incredibly cramped.

My children are only young but even they struggled there.

OK, it's a small hatchback, and the Fiat and others are not exactly roomy, but the ADAM seems particularly limited, and this must affect its popularity as a family car.

There is a choice of a 1.2 or 1.4 petrol – and presumably the new 1.0 litre as well before too long – and I tried the 1.4 with stop/start.

The entire range is quite frugal, with all the cars averaging more than 50 mpg, which is good going, but that is about the extent of the mechanical strong points.

Being based on the Corsa makes financial sense for Vauxhall, of course, but it does mean that the basic underpinnings are from a car that is about to be replaced, and it shows on the road.

It isn't bad, but tried back to back against the others, the ride is a bit bouncy, the handling lacks precision and the engines slightly harsh.

Taken in isolation the ADAM would probably get a higher rating, but because it is being pitched against such tough, capable opposition, it seems to fall a little short.

The styling is great and the trim/colour options offer huge scope for personalisation, but in other respects the car fails to quite hit the mark.

If Vauxhall wants to have its cars seen in the same light as the likes of the MINI and Fiat 500, it needs to do a bit more. By John Swift

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