Opel’s Adam ― a surprisingly fun car to punt around in
SINGAPORE, Sept 10 — You could think of the Opel Adam as a small car, but why not consider it a big toy instead?
That way, you stop comparing it with other cars, many of which offer more room and more power for less money, and are free to focus instead on the simple thing that toys are supposed to deliver: Fun.
And the Adam is a surprisingly fun car to punt around in. It has a bouncy ride that many small cars do, but a twisty road turns into a playground with the Adam. It switches direction with all the enthusiasm of a puppy chasing after a ball, and the way its skinny tyres keep their hold on tarmac makes you want to cheer.
There many not be a lot of power under the bonnet (just 87hp from a 1.4-litre engine), but trying to drive a slow car fast is sometimes more fun than driving a fast car slowly, anyway.
Yet, for all the little Opel’s ability to make you giggle on a quiet road, the Adam is really a creature of the city. Its main rivals are other urban runabouts like the Volkswagen Up! and Toyota Aygo. Neither of those is on sale here, so for an easier reference point, Mini’s current three-door hatch is actually 12.3cm longer than this.
Why build such a small car? Because driving in some major European cities can be abject misery, with narrow roads, pricey petrol and street parking that obliges drivers to squeeze into any space they can find.
The Opel’s compact size and light steering make it ideal for those conditions.
Just because a car is small, however, does not mean it lacks sophistication. The Opel’s dashboard feels surprisingly high-quality, and it looks sleek and modern.
Things are kept uncluttered by a touchscreen system that is a highlight of the car. It pairs with an iPhone via Apple CarPlay, so you can navigate via Apple’s maps app, and it controls a sound system that sounds great.
Sitting in the Opel is a reminder that small cars are not always cheap or nasty inside.
You can get two people into the back but they had best be on the short side, and as for the boot, it is far more suited to trips to a mini-mart than to Ikea.
Still, to buy a car this size and grumble about a lack of space inside is folly. What could genuinely irk you about the Adam is its transmission.
Easy on the fuel
The five-speed Easytronic device is an automated, single-clutch gearbox. It works reasonably smoothly, but each gearchange entails a long interruption of power from the engine, which can make the Adam feel more sluggish than it is.
You can drive around it to some extent, mostly by anticipating gear changes and lifting your foot slightly off the accelerator, as you would in a manual car. A conventional auto would have been smoother and less demanding, but also less efficient.
Thus, your reward for putting up with the Easytronic gearbox is the Adam’s small appetite for fuel. The official consumption figure is just 4.7 litres per 100km.
Another way to look at the Adam is as a sort of fashion statement on wheels. The small size lends it automatic cuteness, but some styling elements give it a bit of elegance, like the strip of chrome that flows along the roofline.
The car itself is uncommonly customisable, too. Opel sells a large number of cabin panels and accessories to let customers make each Adam his or her own, the idea being to inject a bit of fun and style into things. The accessories have playful names like James Blonde (a yellow gear stick) and Mr Darkside (a brown mirror cover), for instance.
One bit of potential killjoy is the car’s price. In Germany, an Adam costs less than half a year’s average wages, so the idea of buying one for the heck of it is not something you would struggle to imagine. But taxes and the COE system make it an S$89,888 proposition here, so the audience is limited to people who really, really put a premium on style over practicality.
Essentially, the Adam is a fun car with an unfunny price tag. That is hardly Opel’s fault, of course, and even if you think of the Adam as a toy, no one ever said that toys have to come cheap.
Opel Adam 1.4
Engine: 1,398cc, in-line four, 87hp, 130Nm
Performance: 178kmh, 0-100kmh: 13.9s, 4.7L/100km, 109g/km CO2
Price: S$89,988 (RM271,457) with COE
On Sale: Now
PROS: Stylish looks, nice cabin, highly customisable
CONS: Cramped rear seating, small boot, sluggish transmission ― TODAY