The original Adam I reviewed last year was a nice little car. Yes, it has some stiff competition, and I’d probably still go a little bit bigger and buy a Corsa, but it felt comfortable and good to drive. One thing it was lacking however was a really class-beating engine. Wheezy, unresponsive and with a fairly limited rev range, the existing 4-pots weren’t really up to much.
Now, however, there’s a new engine, and it makes a world of difference.
Vauxhall have finally come up with a brand new engine to compete with the likes of Ford’s 3-pot EcoBoost. In an era where it’s almost a prerequisite, small cars such as the Adam need to be offering the small, 3-cylinder engines.
There’s a lot to recommend the Adam Rocks. The interior is excellent, and I’m actually quite a fan of the colour on the dashboard and centre console. Everything seems to be laid out in the right way – the driving position is good, and although the Vauxhall’s steering wheel buttons annoy me, the overall feel and tactility of being in the driving seat works for the Adam Rocks. I’m a fan of Vaxuhall’s media system – in the Adam Rocks it feels refined and intuitive – little touches such as album artwork on the screen when playing through an iPod are not new or unique, but seem to suit this little car well and are nice additions to the system.
The plastic bumpers on the Adam Rocks have come in for a bit of stick recently – but I’m not too sure they’re such a bad thing. Coupled with the raised ride height, I don’t think it’s a bad looking car at all. The addition of a fabric roof is good too – from the inside and out. It works well and can be opened anything up to about 80mpg apparently. Though you won’t be able to hear yourself think if you do…
The final thing to mention here is of course the new engine. It really is very good. The Adam Rocks suffers from the fact everyone will prefer this engine in the new Vauxhall Corsa, but even here it feels lively, revvy, fun and like there’s plenty of power on tab. The turbo isn’t wonderful and there seems to be a fair bit of lag, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s poor to drive – squirting this car from corner to corner on some of the roads in Cornwall was a true delight.
The Not So Good Bits
There’s a downside to the Adam Rocks in terms of its image, but there are some other fundamental problems. The new 18” particularly annoyed me – they’re crashy, harsh and don’t provide the most comfortable of rides. The interior space is also fairly poor – legroom at the back isn’t amazing and if practicality is what you’re after, you’re probably better looking down the Mini route.
MPG is still a problem with the new engine – it’ll do 40+ easily but when hybrids and other EVs are looking at coming on to the small car market in years to come, I’d be concerned that the Adam Rocks will find it hard keep up.
The other slightly disappointing feature is that I would have loved to have seen a 4×4 drivetrain on the Adam Rocks. I’m not really sure why, but compared to the Fiat Panda, for example, there seems to be a bit of a market here that Vauxhall could have tapped in to.
Almost against all odds, I really do like the Adam Rocks. I liked the original Adam too, but this one is definitely better with the new engine – which is great, frankly. The problem here though is that I think it’ll find it hard to get noticed, it’s in one of the most competitive sectors around, and there are more practical, better handling, more comfortable cars out there for the same money.
What I do like about the Adam Rocks though is that it’s unashamedly cheeky and fun – the interior is good and the fabric roof alongside the new engine is pretty much the raison d’etre for this new incarnation. It won’t sell in droves, and it definitely isn’t the best car in its class, but it does make me smile.