Opel Adam (2014) Driven

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The last launch of the year has come and gone, and it was Opel who took the opportunity to end the year on a high with its new Adam city slicker.

On the eve of the Adam launch (see what I did there), I was thinking about where Opel currently sits in the local pecking order. Of late, the brand has been overshadowed by its Chevrolet sibling and considering Opel's ties to South Africa, this is quite sad. Luckily for fans of Opel, the brand claims its back and will be tackling 2015 with a number of new products. The first product is the Opel Adam, and it will go on sale in January 2015.

The Opel Adam is claimed to take on the lifestyle-orientated city car market. Rivals included the Fiat 500, Citroen DS3 and the segment-leading MINI Cooper. Trademarks of these cars include fun factor, plenty customisation options and class and charm by the truckload. With these vehicles, it's all about individualisation and making your car unique.

The competition is already quite deeply entrenched into the market, with all three competitors boasting reasonable sales. So what will make the Adam succeed? Firstly I think its better looking than most and secondly, I think its pricing will see it slot under the Citroen DS3 and Mini Cooper. Despite the crazy exchange rate, Opel is claiming that it can bring the Adam in for between R200 000 and R250 000, which is pretty good considering the specification.

Opel Adam Models

Speaking of specification, there are three models to choose from:

Adam 1.4 Essentia - R189 900 Adam Jam 1.0T ecoFLEX - R209 900 Adam Glam 1.0T ecoFLEX - R232 900

The 1.4 Essential makes do with the 1.4-litre engine which has 74 kW and 130 Nm. What you really want is the all-new 1.0-litre turbo three-cylinder engine which has 85 kW and 170 Nm. Not only is this engine a great performer, but it's supposedly light on fuel. I say supposedly, because I wasn't driving it in a fuel efficient manner along the launch route. The route took us on the winding road of Clarence Drive between Gordons Bay and Kleinmond, and with such a great chassis and sporty suspension, it was a joy to drive.

Specification

In terms of specification, you get a fair whack of technology thrown in. This is no bare-bones model and it comes with a full host of the latest toys from the General Motors family. There's a new touchscreen infotainment system called IntelliLink (MyLink for Chevrolet). I've really enjoyed it in the past on the Chevrolet models and its just so intuitive. .This system enables navigation from your smartphone to be connected to the car. You can also make use of the TuneIn radio streaming service.

For the safety conscious, the new Opel Adam comes with six airbags, ABS with BAS and EBD, ESP Plus, ISOFIX child seat anchors, hill-start assist and a blindspot alert system. The cars also feature tyre pressure monitors and automatic parking for the Jam and Glam.

The basic 1.4 Adam comes with 15-inch alloys, daytime running lights, front fog-lights, heated and electric side-mirrors, cruise control with a speed limiter, a five-speaker radio/CD audio system (USB and auxiliary), a leather-bound multi-functional steering wheel (with rake/reach adjustment), Bluetooth, tinted windows with electric operation, colour-coded key fob, split-folding rear seats, speed-sensitive power steering (with City Mode) and manual air-conditioning.

The mid-range Jam adds a drive assist display, 16-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, LED brake lights, IntelliLink with seven speakers, front and rear parking sensors, Side Blind Zone Alert, and side mirrors matched to the roof colour.

Finally, the top of the range Glam includes automatic lights, rain-sensing wipers and electro-chromatic rear-mirror, climate control, eight multi-colour ambient light settings, panoramic sunroof or "64 Starz" headliner (which uses 64 individual LED elements), and 17-inch alloy wheels.

The Drive

As mentioned, our launch took me around the Overstrand region and on those tight and twisty roads, the Opel Adam was an eager and willing playmate. It may not boast performance credentials, but its still wanting to entertain. If you want some performance, then you'll have to wait for the Adam S. The old Opel gearbox which wasn't the greatest of units has been ditched, and in its place is a solid six-speed manual (on the Jam and Glam models).

One particular feather in the cap of the Opel Adam is the quietness and refinement. At times you could easily be fooled into thinking the engine has switched off. When idling, the engine is remarkably quiet and its only as the revs start climbing do you get the typical growl from the three-cylinder engine. Come off the accelerator after 2 000rpm and there's a cheeky turbo wastegate sound. If you have the mental of age of 18 like me, this will never cease to be a source of amusement. There's no turbo lag either, and you can put your foot down in most gears and the engine responds quickly.

So, a quick summary for the Opel Adam. Well, I think Opel has done a great job with the Adam. Not only is it an effortlessly stylish city car, it also happens to drive exceptionally well. My initial thoughts would say go for broke and get the 1.0-litre models as that engine is just so good.

We'll be driving an Opel Adam Jam over the December 2014 holidays and we'll let you know how it goes with a review and holiday diary.

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