The lower level of the hotel was dark, the lighting dim. Parked in the corner, camouflaged with mottled army style paint, was a car, barely visible. We hurried past as though on a mission, towards a door…where a young lady welcomed us with a drink, and beckoned us to come inside.
Once inside the room, we were greeted warmly by Vauxhall’s PR team, some of whom had accompanied us on our flight from Luton. The plan was to wolf down some much-needed grub, enjoy a beer or two, before the assembled journos were introduced to the Opel Adam in its new form. The camouflaged model outside the door had been finished in a subtly painted military pattern closely resembling the transport of a field commander in the army, but in truth, the Opel Adam is intended for service in the urban jungle rather than any field operations.
Launched at Geneva were two new derivatives, the Adam Rocks and the Adam S as well as the punchy new 115PS 3-cylinder 1-litre engine. Mark Adams, Vice President of Design for Opel/Vauxhall, explained that the reason the electric folding roof on the Rocks model does not go all the way down to the base of the rear window, is that a fully retracted roof sits up too high when folded, spoiling the lines of the vehicle, and it also obscures rearward vision. The urbanised Rocks is taller, wider and looks tougher in appearance than the standard vehicle while the crossover body style is supported by a chassis that is raised 15mm with a wider stance to negotiate obstacles in the urban jungle.
The Opel Adam story is quite remarkable, as Malcolm Ward, Design Director for Opel/Vauxhall, explained, in that it started with a completely clean sheet of paper, and was not a development based on another model. Discussions started in April 2009, drawings were submitted the following month and in June that same year a clay model was created. Ward said, “The idea was right, from the beginning, as the final product was not far from the original idea.”
The Opel Adam’s global unveil was at the 2012 Paris Motor Show, where Opel devoted a whole stand to the new model, and so now, 18 months into its lifecycle, Opel have refreshed the model line-up which was shown at this year’s Geneva Motor Show. Some media reports have labelled the Adam a ‘mechanical handbag’ and a ‘Barbie buggy’, which in the view of this writer is completely unjustified. Small it is, but this is entirely in keeping with the car’s intended market. In fact, the journey to Geneva commenced with a drive from Vauxhall’s Luton office to the airport in an Adam, where two journalists with a suitcase each plus camera gear were bungled into just such a car along with our driver, so no such criticism can be levelled here.
Opel’s European CEO, Karl-Thomas Neumann, explained that 50 per cent of Opel Adam buyers are new customers to the brand. With the company’s goal of moving from its current position as Europe’s third largest automotive producer to second place by 2016, it is models like the Adam that GM/Opel is relying upon to turn the company’s position around. In fact the company is spending US $5-billion on the development of new models and engines to ensure that this happens.
The Opel Adam sold around 70,000 units in the full year of 2013 with 70 per cent of those customers being female buyers, in line with the company’s goal of targeting the fairer sex. Research showed the brand managers in Germany that Opel’s reputation is too bland, so through the Adam, the company has sought to create a more distinct and colourful image with the focus on precision and style. Through this reinvention campaign, the manufacturer’s goal is to make the customer ‘look again’ at the Opel brand.
Malcolm Ward said that the Adam S is distinctly sporty with a wider, dynamic stance. It features a two-tone colour scheme and the prominent rear spoiler helps to plant the car firmly on the tarmac. This new top-of-the-line performance model is powered by a 150PS 1.4 Turbo engine (this already meets the future Euro 6 emission standards) and performance chassis which are unique to the Adam S. Mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, the Adam S has a top speed of 137mph. The VXR braking system with four disc brakes matches the car’s performance credentials and the S can also be styled to suit one’s individual choices. Start/Stop technology is fitted as standard, and the cabin features Recaro seats up front.
Also revealed in Geneva was Opel/Vauxhall’s all-new 1.0-litre ECOTEC direct injection turbo three-cylinder engine. The Adam Rocks is the first model to feature this three-cylinder engine which is available in either 90PS and 115PS format. The all-aluminium engine with a single scroll turbocharger includes direct injection, variable valve timing, a switchable water pump and an integrated exhaust manifold. Fuel-saving Start/Stop technology is an integral part of the system and offered as standard.
Comparing the Adam with its rivals in the market, in the opinion of this writer, Opel/Vauxhall have got it right with this little beauty. From its pert front end, along the sculptured flanks to the shapely and taut rear end, the Adam is a fine looking car and should do the company proud. It is well finished and with the abundant personalisation options, the future certainly looks bright.
Written by Glen Smale