Vauxhall Adam Grand Slam (2015) review

Published:22 January 2015

Vauxhall Adam Grand Slam (2015) review
  • At a glance
  • 4 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5
  • 2 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5

By CJ Hubbard

Former CAR magazine associate editor, road tester, organiser, extremely variable average wheel count

By CJ Hubbard

Former CAR magazine associate editor, road tester, organiser, extremely variable average wheel count

The Vauxhall Adam Grand Slam is a new halo model for the Vauxhall Adam city car range, aiming to give the existing fashion-orientated Jam, Glam and Slam line up a bit of a performance boost.

Not that they particularly need it as far as sales are concerned. 125,000 Adams have found homes since the car went on sale two years ago, 22,000 of those in the UK. But something in the region of 70% of those UK buyers are female, and Vauxhall is really hoping the hot(tish) hatch stylings of the Adam Grand Slam will help attract a more masculine audience.

Hmm. So the Adam Grand Slam is supposed to be macho is it?

You can draw your own conclusions. But in addition to the mean and moody lowered look, achieved via a new front lip spoiler, side skirts and rear bumper treatment, the Adam Grand Slam also features a new 148bhp version of Vauxhall’s 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine and a six-speed manual gearbox.

Now Euro 6 complaint and boasting 10bhp more than in other applications, this is by far the most powerful engine ever offered in an Adam. It’s capable of whisking the little rollerskate 0-62mph in 8.5sec and onto a top speed of 124mph. Which might not sound like much, but we’re told it’s fast enough to make the functional roof spoiler a necessity rather than an accessory.

There wasn’t much opportunity to verify the claimed increase in downforce on the launch in Portugal, but the mountain roads certainly put the upgraded chassis to the test.

Why isn’t it called the Adam VXR?

Vauxhall has tweaked the Adam’s suspension to make it roughly 12% stiffer front and rear, but says in no way is this car hardcore enough to earn a VXR badge – even with 18-inch alloys as standard. This might come as a surprise to anyone who’s driven the regular Adam ‘sport chassis’ in the UK, as this is already somewhat… abrupt.

Despite the extra stiffness, the lowered look is only an illusion; on wheels this size the ride height was already at the limit. So you might think this is more grand scam than grand slam, but don’t jump to conclusions. And there is still some genuine VXR in there – the large 308mm front and 264mm rear brakes are carried over wholesale from the oikiest Corsa.

You say don’t jump to conclusions – what’s the Adam Grand Slam like to drive?

Compared to a standard Adam, it’s transformed. The engine makes the biggest difference – for all that it’s fitted with a turbocharger you still have to work it pretty hard, but this is part of the fun. In the grand scheme of things, the Grand Slam still isn’t an especially fast car, meaning you can thrash it everywhere without sending your social conscience rotating in its grave. At least, not too rapidly.

The chassis is also up to the challenge. There are still some tweaks to come for the steering in the UK – reducing the self-centring while adding a little weight – but even as it is the Grand Slam’s front end is easy to read and a joy to work with. Keen turn-in and lurch-free body control sees it tuck into corners quickly and smoothly, and more importantly it hangs on hard all the way through. While not as nimble as, say, a Fiesta ST, it’s an honest, no-nonsense approach that soon wins you over.

Surprisingly, given the concept of the Adam in general, there are no gimmicks here. The exhaust is all pipe and no synthesizer, and has just enough burble to sound spirited at speed yet drops away into anonymity at a cruise, so it should be easy to live with on a motorway commute. The ride comfort might be more of an issue, the odd Portuguese bump sending a shock through the short wheelbase – but no more than you’d usually expect from this kind of car. And though the gearbox is also a touch reluctant at times we got used to it.

I suppose there are enormous numbers of options, being an Adam?

As with the rest of the Adam range, personalisation is expected to be a key selling point. There’s a unique ‘Red n Roll’ roof option, and Vauxhall has now confirmed it will offer a fantastic set of Recaro sports seats – albeit for an extra £1,040 (worth every penny, but tricky to justify on such a small car). Various interior trimmings can be specified, though we probably wouldn’t bother with the smartphone-powered IntelliLink infotainment system.

At £16,995, the Grand Slam is £995 cheaper than the more powerful (and lighter) Abarth 595 Turismo, which is perhaps its closest rival. It also undercuts the (much more powerful) Corsa VXR by £2000. Vauxhall expects to sell only around 750 Grand Slams a year. We can’t see that being a problem, but it’s a sensible target given a basic Fiesta ST starts at £17,395.

Verdict

With the Grand Slam (and the recently introduced 114bhp 1.0-litre turbo petrol), the Vauxhall Adam finally feels like it’s come of age – having overcome the hump of its existing and archaic engine range. While it’s not going to set any new lap records, and there are much sportier choices available for not much more money, this car is fun to drive in a refreshingly uncomplicated way, and individual enough to ensure owners will stand out from the crowd.

Specs

Price when new: £16,995
On sale in the UK: March 2015
Engine: 1,364cc 16v four-cylinder turbo petrol, 148bhp @ 5500rpm, 164lb ft @ 4500rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Performance: 8.5sec 0-62mph, 124mph, 47.9mpg, 139g/km CO2
Weight / material: 1178kg / aluminium and steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 3708mm / 1720mm / 1484mm

Rivals

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  • Vauxhall Adam Grand Slam (2015) review
  • Vauxhall Adam Grand Slam (2015) review
  • Vauxhall Adam Grand Slam (2015) review
  • Vauxhall Adam Grand Slam (2015) review
  • Vauxhall Adam Grand Slam (2015) review
  • Vauxhall Adam Grand Slam (2015) review
  • Vauxhall Adam Grand Slam (2015) review
  • Vauxhall Adam Grand Slam (2015) review
  • Vauxhall Adam Grand Slam (2015) review
  • Vauxhall Adam Grand Slam (2015) review
  • Vauxhall Adam Grand Slam (2015) review

By CJ Hubbard

Former CAR magazine associate editor, road tester, organiser, extremely variable average wheel count

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