Review: Vauxhall Adam

Aimed at the younger motoring market

07 Jan 16 Tim Barnes-Clay


  • Reliable

  • Good ride quality

  • Great personalisation and style


  • Small boot

  • Not much oomph

  • Very cramped in the rear seats

Our expert rating

The Vauxhall ADAM is a city car which is still relatively new to Britain, only gone on sale in early 2013.

The car is aimed at the younger end of motoring market because it comes in lots of whacky colours and can be personalised inside and out.


The ADAM is comfortable in the city. Its small size and lively engines make it the sort of car that can dart down busy narrow streets easily. Light steering and good visibility makes parking a breeze, too.

The Vauxhall’s acceleration doesn’t really wow you, though. Outside of the urban jungle, the ADAM suffers when trying to overtake or gather pace to join motorways. It comes with three petrol power units, starting off with a 1.2 litre, then a choice of a lower or higher powered 1.4 litre engine.

A five speed manual gearbox is hooked up to all of the cars, and it isn’t the best Vauxhall has ever fitted. The gears are stiff and not slick, but they do the job. The top of the tree, more highly tuned, 1.4 engine is the one to target at a car dealership because it gives the best balance of clout and manoeuvrability in and out of town.

This variant will do approximately 50mpg, and other running costs, such as road tax and servicing, are low.

Blue Vauxhall Adam

Ride and handling

The ride quality is good for such a petite car and the ADAM can dash around corners without any body roll. The aforementioned light steering is great in town, but it translates into a feathery, anesthetised drive out of the city.

In town, it feels laid-back, coping well with eroded, overused, road surfaces, although the lumpy gearbox can rain on the car’s otherwise chilled character. Euro NCAP safety specialists awarded the ADAM a rather below par four out of five stars.

However, four isn’t the end of the world, and kit is substantial, including lots of airbags, cruise control, electronic stability control, and Hill Start Assist.

Vauxhall Adam interior

Interior space

The front is moderately spacious for two adults, with respectable headroom and legroom, but forget the rear for anyone approaching mid-teenage years, onwards. The lack of rear legroom for adults or anyone of average height is very noticeable.

This is a car suited for a single driver, or a couple – and a baby or a tot would fit in the back. The boot, at 170 litres, is just about okay for a folded buggy, but not much else. Even a couple would struggle to get any holiday gear into the boot.

On the plus side, the door pockets are big enough to hold a bottle of drink and there are enough cabin storage areas to keep odds and ends from rattling about. Buying used, means you will land with whatever personalisation options were ticked by the original purchaser.

There are, however, four key trim levels - JAM, GLAM, SLAM and S. The best is the GLAM. It has luxury items fitted, such as a sunroof and climate control, Bluetooth and a USB port – but without being too expensive or needlessly pimped-up, like the S with its spoiler and red brake callipers.

Vauxhall Adam engine

What to know before you buy

The Adam makes a reliable secondhand car because it is still so new to the UK. Its mechanical components and power units are tried and tested on other cars within the Vauxhall line-up, so there is no reason why glitches should crop up any time soon.

The cabin materials are durable, and should still look good as new for years to come. The Vauxhall has a warranty scheme for the Adam, which isn’t transferable, so it is no use if you are buying used.

However, any problems will probably have been sorted out by the initial owner under this – as long as they stuck to the service schedule. Therefore, check the service manual in the car to make sure it has been regularly stamped up by a proper Vauxhall dealer – proof that it has been fully maintained.

Vauxhall Adam and Mini

Alternative cars

The MINI Hatchback is a worthy challenger for the ADAM, although it’s more expensive on used car forecourts as it has an iconic status that eclipses the Vauxhall’s trendiness. The MINI is also made by BMW, so quality inside and out is remarkable. The drive is fantastic in and out of town, too and its boot is 211 litres – outsizing the ADAM’s by over 40 litres.

Another real-world contender is the Audi A1. This is so solid it seems hewn out of rock, and the drive is remarkable. The only drawback is that the Audi comes with a prestigious image, and the high resale price of the car reflects that.

Overall verdict

The Griffin-badged ADAM is a very sweet, good looking, trendy motor, but it’s a bit style over substance heavy. The car is not an ideal all-rounder as it is only truly at its best around town.

However, it makes a great buy for a first time driver, or someone that doesn’t want, or need, to venture far, but still values fashion and good looks.

Expert rating



Space & comfort

Running costs

Value for money


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