A SMALL GERMAN MADE TO MEASURE
TECHNICAL ANALYSIS OF THE OPEL ADAM
It has the same name as the founder of Opel and wants to enter the hard-fought sector of prestigious utility vehicles. Considerable contents, lots of personalizing, spirited engines (petrol only) and really excessive top-level tyres
IT’S A HIGH-SOUNDING NAME, but contrary to what one might think, it does not refer to the first man on Earth. But just like the famous apple, the sumptuousness offered by the German city car could be a temptation for the undecided. In reality, behind the name lies dedication that is even more significant, given that Adam Opel is none other than the creator (in 1862) of a company that at one time made sewing machines and bicycles. But Herr Opel was not in time to see an automobile with his name on it, and perhaps at this late date the new compact from Russelsheim wants to celebrate the founder of the brand.
A lifestyle car, as they are called these days, that is a very long way from Spartan low-cost city cars and has every right to enter the hard-fought (and growing) segment of class A premium cars that is dominated by Fiat 500, Mini, Citroën DS3 and Audi A1.
As you like it
Just like you is the slogan that echoes from advertising launches with Valentino Rossi. A special testimonial on whom the advertising specialists handling the campaign have based the appeal of this car. In spite of the industrial rationalization of the trim, it offers an infinite number of personalizing possibilities that emphasize the uniqueness of models that can be finished in an incredible mix of colours and accessories in line with the desires of individual clients. Not even Opel can say exactly how many trim possibilities there are: tens of thousands by combining twelve colours for the body, three for the roof, five external finishes, four types of cab finishes, thirty different rims – from 15, 16, 17 and up to 18 inches on the sportier versions – and a multitude of customized elements for outside and inside. There are four different versions: base, Jam, Glam and Slam, with two engines and three power levels.
Valentino Rossi fully expresses Adam’s style: carefree, mischievous, slightly irreverent and unconventional” – stated Roberto Matteucci, MD of Opel Italia. – “But at the same time, it is extremely disciplined, attentive, expects and employs maximum precision, just like the German engineering at the heart of our cars. Choosing Valentino Rossi for Adam is a very precise indication of our willingness and commitment to redesigning a new personality for our cars, to changing pace by working on style and image, but with precise German engineering always at the centre, because that has always been a successful feature of our brand”. And, in effect, the Opel renewal of the entire range that began in 2009 will continue soon with the introduction of new engines and transmissions that will certainly be included in the next update of the newly introduced city car.
At 3.7 m long, 1.72 m wide and 1.48 m high, just over 1,080 kg of unladen weight (1,120 kg for the 1.4), the Adam’s external dimensions are in line with the average in its category, just enough to guarantee that the German three-door has room for four and cargo capacity for small bags. With no spare wheel, the total capacity is 170 litres that can be increased to a maximum of 663 litres by folding down the rear seats. To tell the truth, the rounded roof and spacious interior that is obviously an advantage for the front seats but reduces comfort for passengers in the back, is an acceptable compromise (long journeys apart) considering that the German utility is meant purely for city use. Everything is characterized by attractive lines with ample use of stylish rounded elements, a top section clearly defined by the different colour of the roof, which also comes in a panoramic glass version, and sporty elements like the spoiler and mud flaps, daytime lights and LED headlights, which all add to its feistiness. The trim is fit for a premium car and on the Adam you can enjoy sophistication that is usually found on much nobler sedans, and not just from the safety aspect, given that ABS, airbags and stability control have become imperatives for all vehicles.
Here, prestigious details start with steering wheel height adjustment and end with a roof studded with 64 LEDs via a futuristic infotainment system, IntelliLink, that connects Apple and Android smartphones to the car, with access from a 7” touchscreen display to a multitude of functions, navigator included. With Park Assist parking is automatic, power steering in City mode becomes feather-light for all manoeuvres, and cruise control stabilizes speed as soon as you join a motorway.
When it was launched the Adam had two petrol engines: a 1.2 litre, 70 HP and a 1.4 litre in two configurations of 87 and 100 HP, with or without Start & Stop technology and with 5-speed manual transmission only.
The 70 HP delivered by the smallest 4 cylinder guarantees economy and sufficient vivacity. It has a top speed of 165 km/h and average consumption is in the order of 18.9 km/litre, which increase to 20 km/litre with the Start & Stop system that ensures savings. The intermediate configuration of 87 HP delivered by the 1.4 litre makes it livelier and consumption is fairly similar to the previous one. The 100 HP of the sportier version will achieve the 185 km/h limit, with average consumption within 18.2 km/litre, which increases to 19.6 km/litre again thanks to the Start & Stop system.
Absent at the launch was the hoped-for turbo diesel, which is expected later and will join the new turbocharged petrol engine that should raise the dynamics of the small Opel even further. Also under development is a new robotized, 5-speed automatic transmission with sequential selector, and a 6–speed manual transmission.
The work by the German technicians aimed at emphasizing the city car’s road qualities by guaranteeing a decidedly sporty layout with behaviour that is very similar to the close-to-the-ground effect that is so popular with younger people, and was repaid by the appreciation of competitors like the Mini, just to mention its direct rival. Overall comfort, which is high with regard to soundproofing, driving pleasure and trim and finish levels, has been reduced in favour of a dry and direct response from the suspension, which is very enjoyable when going flat out on roads as smooth as a billiard table, but a little less pleasant on the back of mother-in-law in the rear seat when returning on a cobbled street from the shopping centre. Especially if, when using the car configurator set up for customers on the Adam website, you choose the disproportionate wheels with 18” rims and 225/35 R18 tyres combined with a lowered profile, which is possible only on the more accessorized Slam version, dimensions that are much more suited to fanciful GTs with racetrack aspirations and have never been seen as standard on a city car of this kind. Moving away from extremism, if you want to exceed the 185/65 R15 on the entry level (smaller 14” wheels are also homologated), the best balance between style and sportiness is the already oversize 215/45 R17 or the more balanced 195/55 R16.