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First drive: Vauxhall Adam Rocks Air. Image by Vauxhall.

First drive: Vauxhall Adam Rocks Air
Vauxhall claims to have invented the first three-door A-segment crossover in the rough'n'tumble Adam Rocks - but does it convince as a package?

   



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| First Drive | Snowdonia, UK | Vauxhall Adam Rocks Air |

Overall rating: 4 4 4 4 4

Improved looks, a smoother ride and some neat detailing inside and out mean the new Vauxhall Adam Rocks Air can claim to be the most appealing version of the Adam yet. But the real star of the show is the company's new three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, which is an absolute peach.

Key Facts

Model tested: Vauxhall Adam Rocks Air EcoFlex
Pricing: 16,695 as standard, car as tested 19,635; Adam Rocks range starts at 14,695
Engine: 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol
Transmission: six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Body style: three-door crossover cabriolet
Rivals: Citroen DS 3, Fiat 500C, Fiat Panda Cross
CO2 emissions: 119g/km
Combined economy: 55.4mpg
Top speed: 121mph
0-62mph: 9.9 seconds
Power: 115hp at 5,200rpm
Torque: 170Nm at 1,800- to 4,500rpm

In the Metal: 4 4 4 4 4

It's the tried and tested formula here of raising the ride height (by 15mm in this case) and adorning the Vauxhall Adam's lower body with lots of 'rugged' plastic. The end result is pleasing and arguably has more of an identity of its own than the standard hatchback. The front and rear bumper treatments works well against the bright, jazzy colour palette of the Adam range, while the black roof makes more sense when counterbalanced by the anthracite cladding below. It has a well-executed full-length folding fabric roof, hence the 'Air' part of its name. Inside is pretty much as per the hatchback, with some Rocks-specific trim finishes and Morrocana/cloth seats included to elevate it above the norm.

Driving it: 4 4 4 4 4

While the Adam Rocks does a lot of things very well, there are one or two bugbears. The clutch on our test car had a high biting point and an occasionally grabby action, requiring some finesse to enact smooth gearchanges - not aided by a six-speed transmission that, while fine, is not quite as super-slick in its throw as some of Vauxhall's other, current offerings. Also, while the electrically-assisted power steering is said to have been mapped with sharper turn-in for the UK market, it's not the greatest set-up in the world. The Adam does indeed respond keenly to slight movements of the wheel, but feel coming back through the rim is imprecise and its weighting feels artificial.

Those gripes aside, the rest of the Rocks package is impressive. The ride, for a start, is supremely good for a car with a short wheelbase riding on 18-inch alloys (optional at 800). The longer suspension travel, raised ride height and specific damper/spring rates bless the Adam with body control that's cultured and very 'big car' in feel. It's also a tidy enough handler, if you can circumnavigate the inconsistent steering, with plenty of front end grip and a surprising dearth of excessive body roll. The brakes are fine and the noise levels are well suppressed, even with the fabric roof fully open to the elements. Dynamically, it's both comfortable and capable.

However, the new turbocharged engine - with its sump-mounted balancer shaft (a feature unique to 1.0-litre three-cylinder units apparently) - is an utter gem. It is pure velvet in its operation, never introducing vibrations into the cabin or through the steering wheel, while being both keen to rev and beautifully flexible low down. The Adam Rocks is totally happy whether it is pinging round to its 6,500rpm rev limiter or pulling from around 1,400rpm in fourth up a steep hill. The performance is more than sprightly too, the Rocks easily able to get up to motorway speeds in a short space of time and feeling full of verve at all times. There are two other petrol engines you can pick, of either 1.2- (70hp) or 1.4-litre (87hp) capacity, but don't bother. The 1.0T enters straight into the three-cylinder production engines chart as one of the very highest placed, if not the best example of its type that we've tried. It'll be fitted into the normal Adam and the forthcoming new Vauxhall Corsa too, so expect to see lots of rave reviews of it in the not-too-distant future.

What you get for your Money: 3 3 3 3 3

The Rocks range starts at 14,695 and offers individualistic crossover style in an A-segment package, which Vauxhall says is its true USP. Standard equipment levels are fairly high across the range and it offers some segment firsts as options, one of which is a heated steering wheel. But, as you can see from our test car, if you're injudicious with the extras list when ordering, the Rocks' price tag can spiral towards the 20,000 mark. With the exception of the aforementioned eight-hundred quid rims, a few nice option bundles (Winter Pack 215, Advanced Park Assist II 450, Sight and Light Pack 230), Intellilink infotainment (275) and metallic paint (545) resulted in a 19,635 ticket.

Worth Noting

While sales of the standard Vauxhall Adam hatchback are split 75:25 in favour of women, Vauxhall predicts that the Rocks' chunkier character will tempt more male buyers into the smallest of its products, with predicted sales moving to a 60:40 female-male ratio.

Summary

We really like the new Adam Rocks and actually think it's a nicer proposition than the standard hatchback, as it has more charisma, better-resolved looks and some nice touches - such as the full-length cabrio roof - that make it an appealing little 'CUV'. But the real talking point is the debut of the marvellous Ecotec 1.0-litre turbo engine, which is undoubtedly the star attraction here. Silky smooth and so flexible you quickly forget its diminutive size, it easily matches Ford's benchmark 'Fox' EcoBoost unit and in many ways surpasses it. Spec up an Adam Rocks with this lump and plenty of kit, though, and you'll pay quite a lot of money for what is, ultimately, an endearing little crossover.


Matt Robinson - 11 Sep 2014



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2014 Vauxhall Adam Rocks Air. Image by Vauxhall.2014 Vauxhall Adam Rocks Air. Image by Vauxhall.2014 Vauxhall Adam Rocks Air. Image by Vauxhall.2014 Vauxhall Adam Rocks Air. Image by Vauxhall.2014 Vauxhall Adam Rocks Air. Image by Vauxhall.

2014 Vauxhall Adam Rocks Air. Image by Vauxhall.2014 Vauxhall Adam Rocks Air. Image by Vauxhall.2014 Vauxhall Adam Rocks Air. Image by Vauxhall.2014 Vauxhall Adam Rocks Air. Image by Vauxhall.2014 Vauxhall Adam Rocks Air. Image by Vauxhall.



2014 Vauxhall Adam Rocks Air. Image by Vauxhall.
 

2014 Vauxhall Adam Rocks Air. Image by Vauxhall.
 

2014 Vauxhall Adam Rocks Air. Image by Vauxhall.
 

2014 Vauxhall Adam Rocks Air. Image by Vauxhall.
 

2014 Vauxhall Adam Rocks Air. Image by Vauxhall.
 

2014 Vauxhall Adam Rocks Air. Image by Vauxhall.
 

2014 Vauxhall Adam Rocks Air. Image by Vauxhall.
 

2014 Vauxhall Adam Rocks Air. Image by Vauxhall.
 

2014 Vauxhall Adam Rocks Air. Image by Vauxhall.
 






 

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