The cute Opel Adam is now already some two years amongst us, but has lost nothing of its formidable seduction power(s). We also took a bite in the apple, and indeed, we were rewarded with a trip into automotive heaven. How nice this compact Opel drives, one experiences this already from the first metres behind the wheel. We continued this pleasure for a few hundred kilometres more, and felt indeed elated. Just read further.
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Another main reason we crept behind the wheel of this Adam was its new heart: on last year's Geneva salon the Adam celebrated its first birthday by receiving the formidable 1 litre ECOTEC Direct Injection Turbo which sets undoubtedly new standards for small three cylinder engines in terms of pulling power, refinement and economy.
It is coupled to a masterfully slick changing six speed gearbox, which has als been newly developed and weighs a mere 37 kg a good 30 pct less than its predecessor.
A drivetrain of superlatives...
The Adam has to be driven to be believed. Be amazed by the utter smoothness of this engine, which has been developed expertly by Opel's International Technical Development Center in German Rüsselsheim.
Dr. Matthias Alt, Opel's chief engineer for small gasoline engines, went to great lengths in reducing noise, vibrations to an absolute minimum, and indeed, the new engine is quieter than a four cylinder naturally aspirated 1,6 litre engine. Combined with all this is excellent pulling power.
Thanks to the small water cooled low inertia turbo mounted on the exhaust system which is partially integrated into the aluminum cylinder head, torque of not less than 170 Nm is reached from as low as 1800 rpm and continues right up to 4700 rpm. The fuel injectors have not less than six spray nozzles, and are placed centrally above the piston top. Thermal efficiency is therefore warranted, and this means truly excellent power and economy.
Average consumption is quoted at 6,1 litres/100 km, and we had no trouble at all to achieve this figure. But then comes the performance: 0 to 100 km/h is reached in 9,9 seconds, and top speed is 196 kmh. This Adam is indeed fast, and even more formidable is the completely smooth and effortless manner in which all this dynamic liveliness is achieved.
Thanks to the extra balance shaft, the engine purrs with utter smoothness, and a pur sang sounding melodious throb is only heard in the higher rev regions when the unit is really under power.
By the default, the Adam will drive in “Eco” mode, and, quite frankly, it has ample pulling power even in this more frugal setting. Actually, we drove the Adam most of the time in this mode…which says a lot! The slickness of the gearbox, as we said, is truly uncanny, and whether you are driving in a sporting manner over winding open reads, or just flicking the lever through its gears at very gentle urban speeds, it all stays butter smooth.
The compact Adam therefore reaches a level of mechanical refinement which would not be out of place in top notch limousines, and this is one of the very strong points of this car.
Agile, state of the art handling and comfort
But all the driving pleasure behind the wheel of this Adam does not end here. There is much more. Not only the excellent seats, which give the right amount of firmish support, but also the exemplary all round visibility which this compact Adam offers, make it a pleasure to drive around town. A further advantage is the “city” mode of the assisted steering, which makes handling the Adam in town even more effortless.
But its element is not only the narrow urban streets and their rough pavés, the Adam also truly excels on winding open roads. It handles and steers with incisive precision, and does not balk upon being "thrown around" with verve. It rather invites you to do so!
It also feels very well at home on the Autobahnen, and here it cruises with the mechanical quietness and comfort of a high end spec car, with equally a complete absence of any wind noise and tyre roar. In the Adam, it is very well possible to listen to your preferred classical music while cruising at high speed over long distances. The noise level(s) are very low indeed and count amongst the very lowest in their class.
Generous and dynamic design
We like the design language of the Adam. Its curvaceous lines give it a sensual generosity, combined with a dynamic flair. The quality of the used materials, the upholstery, the careful leather finishes and stitchings, it all enhances the up market, joyous "feel" of this car, which is quite endearing.
We also liked the two big round instruments for revs and speed, so generously dimensioned that they made us think of the two big round dials of a Lancia Aurelia or Flaminia. Its add to the "classic" upmarket feel of this compact Adam, which feels as a luxury two seater with generous cabin space for luggage and sundry, especially with the two rear seat backrests folded down. Of course the steering wheel is leather covered with polished aluminum inserts, just to add that touch of nobility.
The knobs and levers are where they should be, and everything is quite intuitive to use. Our test car came with the 'Cocoa' leather interior pack.
One word of praise for the excellent foldable open roof. We opened it during the photo session, and were amazed to find that despite the decidedly autumnal conditions, we were not disturbed by any cold drafts at all, and found out that the Adam is eminently useable in wintery conditions with the open rooftop, and indeed we drove it home with the roof fully opened!
Top class infotainment
The Adam is a car for young hearts, which are born and bred in the information age. Our test car came with the intellilink multimedia system, which is completely compatible with Android and Apple iOS smartphones. Of course there is USB and Bluetooth connectivity and audiostreaming. The audio system sounds great with 6 premium speakers and thanks the Stitcher and TuneIn apps one can listen to its favorite music at all times. When you use your Apple I phone, you can use the Siri Eyes Free function, enabling you to hear and dictate SMS messages while keeping eyes on the road and your hands on the steering wheel...
The Adam is one of the most charming compact cars we have driven this year. It is so smooth and slick, combining all this velvety refinement with very "grown up" performance and excellent agility, handling and comfort.
An immense joy to use in town, in heavy morning or evening traffic, it also holds its own as a true grand tourer for two on European fast trips. And one can fully enjoy the open air, even in brisk Nordic weather!
It looks cute from any angle, is well proportioned, very well finished with high quality materials, and is built to last, giving you undisturbed driving pleasure with excellent performance, being quite frugal too, and this for many, many years...
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Photographers’ notes: Nostalgic buffs as we are, we unearthed again for this photo session our Nikon D40 with the standard DX AF-S Nikkor 18-55 mm lens. Just to avoid it getting rusty after having been resting on the shelf for the last two years. Well, it rose to the occasion, and produced crisp, good images, as you can see here… The original battery also showed good stamina, and keeps its charge still wonderfully for at least a good 300 photos and more!