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The Opel Adam (named for the company’s founder, in case you were wondering) is a very agreeable little car. It has the right blend of cutesy and pugnacious looks, offers decent specification levels and is keenly priced in the boutique-y hatch segment.

Until now there has been no contender to fight the likes of the Citroen DS3 and Fiat 500 in the higher echelon power stakes, which is exactly why Opel SA has launched the Adam S.

What is it?

This newcomer is the range-topper and fittingly offers the highest spec, but it's also priced accordingly. For your extra dosh you get three bespoke colour combinations: Saturday White Fever with red roof, Shiny Rock with red roof, Red ’n Roll with grey roof.

A front spoiler, rear wing and 18-inch alloy wheels announce to onlookers that this is the tar-burning member of the family. Opel claims that the rear wing is good for 10 kg of added downforce.

Inside there are Recaro sports seats, a red leather pack – steering wheel, gearknob, handbrake lever, and several S-specific styling cues; among these the S logo instrumentation, S logo floor mats and S logo décor panels.

Best of all

To top off all that extra kit Opel has thrown a 1,4-litre, turbocharged engine, similar to that found in bigger brother Corsa, under the hood. This unit develops 110 kW and 220 N.m of torque, all of which is delivered to the front axle via a six-speed manual gearbox.

Coupled with a mass of 1 178 kg Opel claims that the Adam S is good for a 8,5 second time in the benchmark sprint stakes and it will top out at 210 km/h.

How does it go?

Opel took a big gamble and allowed several members of the SA motor writers' fraternity loose on Aldo Scribante in its brand-new baby.

Within the confines of Port Elizabeth’s tight and technical track the little car acquitted itself well. It had enough power to zip down the straights and the right level of grip from those 235 mm wide tyres not to be overwhelmed by the torque output. Most impressively the 308 mm ventilated front discs held up to repeated abuse .

Unfortunately there was no road driving aspect on the launch, so I can’t really comment on the ride quality out on public roads. I suspect that with 35 aspect ratio rubber and a torsion beam rear suspension layout that the ride quality may be less than ideal, but we’ll wait to test one before making that final call.


Like its direct rivals the Adam S occupies an irrational little niche in the motoring peck order. It’s not quite a value for money proposition and not a really high performance model. At R30 000 dearer a Ford Fiesta ST, a car that we rate highly, is much better value for money and a better performer to boot.

At R330 000 some may question Opel’s pricing strategy, but these types of cars such as the Fiat 500 Abarth and Citroen DS3 are emotional rather than sensible purchases. With only 50 examples on the cards for the foreseeable future Opel will probably move all the SA-bound Adam S models on exclusivity alone.

The resurgence of the Opel brand continues with the local introduction of the Adam, a premium supermini that happens to share its name with the company founder. It’s also Opel’s first go at the boutique hatch segment. Will it achieve mainstream success like the regulars in this category?

The Russelsheim-based manufacturer seems to have got the size right, as the Adam fits right between two standout sellers in this segment – the Fiat 500 and Mini Cooper in terms of its exterior dimensions. On the local launch in Cape Town I was rather relieved to find that it’s not as compact as I feared it might be. Actually it’s not too far off the new Corsa, which I recently drove in Germany and that is shortly headed to SA.

On the styling front, the Adam is completely fresh. Unlike the Mini, which we’ve now had three generations of, and the Fiat 500 (which based a lot of its looks on the 20th century original) the Adam was designed from the ground up. Opel’s gone for a rather interesting front end, with the grille and company emblem really low on the nose and flanked by turn indicators. Small headlamps are mounted left and right of a clamshell bonnet.

The key design element along the profile is a line of chrome trim that starts at the base of the A-pillar and follows the roofline until it kinks off abruptly just before the base of the C-pillar. That, along with a blacked out B-pillar, creates one of the best examples of a “floating roof” I’ve come across. The only bit of retro appreciation I could find, were the round fog and tail lamps – an ode to the rocket-powered vehicles that Fritz von Opel used to promote the family business.

Inside the Adam, it’s a similarly smart affair. It features a soft touch upper section of the facia that’s complemented by contrasting trim along the centre, as well as on the door panels and floor console. The Jam specification model I drove also came fitted with Opel’s Intellilink touchscreen infotainment system as standard.

There’s also a deep-dish multifunction steering wheel with brushed-alloy finish trim. The Intellilink system comes with pre-loaded apps, but requires a smartphone for connectivity, so the launch vehicles came equipped with iPhones to make use of the BringGo navigation app. Other cool features include Opel’s new Advanced Park Assist 2, which takes over steering of the vehicle during parallel and perpendicular parking manouevres.

The Adam also employs Opel’s new 1,0-litre three-cylinder turbopetrol engine.  It's fitted to the Jam, and range-topping Glam – while entry level Adams use the firm’s normally aspirated 1,4-litre four-cylinder engine. About town, the powerplant proved very efficient, and pokey enough to allow for decent bursts away from the rest of Cape Town’s slow moving traffic.

On the N2 outbound, the Adam’s 85 kW and 170 N.m of torque was more than up to the task of overtaking at the national limit and the three-cylinder layout provided a throaty sountdtrack in the lower ratios when overtaking. During more relaxed driving in sixth gear however, the Adam used about 5,0-litres/100 km.

The Adam’s pricing will be crucial to how well its does locally. At the moment, GMSA suggests that the range, consisting of Adam, Adam Jam and Adam Glam will all cost between R200 000 and R250 000 – which puts Opel’s boutique hatch right between the Fiat 500 and Mini Cooper.


Model: Opel Adam 1,0T Jam

Engine:  three-cyliner, 1,0-litre, turbopetrol

Power: 85 kW at 5 000 r/min

Torque: 170 N.m at 1 800 r/min

0-100 km/h: 9,9 seconds

Fuel consumption: 5,1 L/100 km

CO2: 119 g/km

Top speed: 196 km/h

Price: TBA

Service plan: 3 year/60 000 km

Warranty: 5 year/120 000 km

*Claimed figures


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