Vital Stats

Engine:
1.4L I4
Power:
87 HP / 130 LB-FT
Transmission:
5-Speed Manual
0-60 Time:
12.5 Seconds (0-62)
Top Speed:
109 MPH
Drivetrain:
Front-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
2,469 LBS
Seating:
2+2
Cargo:
6 / 23.4 CU-FT
MPG:
36 City / 46 Combined (est.)
Base Price:
11,500 euro
As Tested Price:
17,600 euro
General Motors currently finds itself in the great position of having a lot of very good small cars in its US lineup. Less than a decade ago, the eight-branded automaker couldn't have enough trucks, SUVs and vans, but now it finds models like the Chevy Sonic and Cruze, Buick Encore and Verano, and Cadillac ATS (not a "small car" by definition, but the smallest for Caddy) garnering praise from the press and sales from consumers. Just across the Atlantic sits another great small car, the Opel Adam.

Now, Old GM would have likely done a rush, badge-engineering job (something in line with the Pontiac G3 or Saturn Astra), but the leaner, smarter New GM seems to be content with letting the Adam stay a European-only offering. Of course there's nowhere for the car to go, really. With Pontiac and Saturn gone, the Adam doesn't really fit into the Buick image and Chevy already has the Spark as its minicar. Even though sales of the Adam seem to be in a funk, this is a fun little hatchback that could put some real competition on style-driven cars like the Fiat 500 and Mini Cooper here in the States.

After spending time with the Opel Cascada last month (a convertible that seems to be destined for a Buick showroom at some point), I also got to drive the Adam, which, if you're wondering, gets its name from the founder of Opel, Adam Opel.

Driving Notes
  • In almost every aspect of the Adam, it was easy to be impressed with the high level of personalization the car offers; something like Scion meets Mini meets a Ford Mustang. It all starts with the exterior design. The two cars I had access to were styled quite differently. The blue car you see above was actually the more toned down of the two – even with its splotchy paint swathes on the A- and C-pillars and on the mirrors. Owners are also able to get colored covers on the wheel spokes, which I was told are easily interchangeable. If that's not enough, there are 12 exterior paint colors (including three roof colors) and 20 wheel options.
  • Inside, there are even more color/styling options to help buyers customize their Adam. My favorite thing about this car's interior was something I never thought I would like: the sky blue headliner with 64 LEDs. Having something so close to the similar star-lit headliner found in the Rolls-Royce Wraith feels like a premium accomplishment.
  • Two-tone color schemes are fairly commonplace inside today's flock of small cars and the Opel Adam is no different, but the surprising thing inside the hatchback is how upscale the cabin looked and felt right down to the leather interior and soft-touch dash. Sure, there was no center armrest for the front occupants, but this tester had heated front seats and steering wheel, parking sensors and GM's IntelliLink touchscreen infotainment system
  • In addition to the Adam's personalization, I also found myself liking the car due to its design that lacks the 'cute factor' that you find on cars like the Fiat 500, Smart Fortwo and Mini Cooper. Instead, the Adam has a familial look that matches the Opel range. The shape of the front grille and headlights match other Opels, as does the signature hockey stick crease at the bottom of the door. Some of the more stylized elements of the Adam's design include the fish-hook-shaped crease around the door handle and the pinched molding atop the glasshouse.
  • Along with the options buyers have to choose from for the interior and exterior, there are also three powertrain choices. We had the middle-child 1.4-liter inline four-cylinder tuned to 87 horsepower and 130 pound-feet of torque, but this engine can also be had in a 100-hp variant. Buyers can also opt for the base 70-hp, 1.2-liter mill.
  • Even with a low 2,469-pound curb weight, you can't expect much from the Adam in terms of acceleration, and that is backed up by official 0-62 number of 12.5 seconds. Then again, this is no sports car, so its small stature and decent fuel economy (rated at 6.6 L/100 km or about 46 miles per gallon US in urban driving and as high as 4.2 L/100 km or about 56 US mpg in "ultra urban" driving) make it a great urban runabout. Despite its sluggish acceleration, the Adam is still a hoot to drive thanks in large part to its small size. On a long stretch of autobahn outside of Frankfurt, I was eventually able to crest 100 mph, but the fun factor was increased significantly on the twisty mountain roads.
  • In terms of its size, the Adam has about the same footprint as the Fiat 500, but it is slightly wider and lower. Despite its similar proportions as the Fiat, it was interesting to note that from behind the wheel the Adam felt much larger than its Italian rival, which is likely due to a longer hood and an interior that felt more spacious.
  • I wasn't given a pricing breakdown for all the various options, but this tester retailed for 17,600 euros – up from a base price of 11,500 euros (although not an apples-to-apples conversion, this would amount to a starting price of around $15,500 and an as-tested price of $24,000). In Germany, that starting price is comparable to a Fiat 500 and slightly less than a Volkswagen Polo.
  • After my short time with the Opel Adam, I felt as though it is a shame that US buyers will never have the opportunity to experience this car. It has the right amount of quirkiness, luxury and fuel efficiency to make it an attractive option in the growing small car market of the US. Somehow, the Adam comes off looking far less gimmicky than the Fiat and Mini, while being more intriguing than other small cars like the Honda Fit and Nissan Versa Note. Then again, there is always the possibility of the more crossover-ish Opel Adam Rocks coming to the US, as it could possibly make its case as a sub-Encore model in the Buick lineup.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 41 Comments
      Hazdaz
      • 1 Year Ago
      Bring it here and give it to Buick. The market has already shown that they want a smaller, yet premium, vehicle because the Encore (as well as the Verano) is a pretty decent seller for Buick. Bring this Adam over and spice it up a little and price it above Chevy's small cars. This could be a premium small car that isn't trying to get 100,000 sales each year to turn a profit. Instead it would be targeted at the crowd that wants something nimble, economical on fuel and space, yet they want more premium finishes and material and don't want a car that everyone and their neighbor drives. GM is missing a good opportunity to expand Buick's lineup with a vehicle that isn't being sold anywhere else in North America. The car is already designed. The amount of work needed for them to federalize it could be minimal if they had the forethought to make it an international vehicle at the get-go.
      Mike J
      • 1 Year Ago
      With the Mini and Fiat in the preium mini market, why not bring it over. The problem is GM refuse to bring both Buick and Opel into a more common design theme. However in this case a simple tri shield should do ok.
        andrite36
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Mike J
        Good idea. That could also be used on a Toyota Celica sized sporty car. Buick needs to break away from the "waterfall" at some point... Using the tri-shield would be a way to do that...
      rmt_1
      • 1 Year Ago
      If the Opel Adam can pass US crash standards and be imported at a low enough cost to be profitable, then Buick could be missing out on an opportunity to directly compete against the Mini Cooper and the Fiat 500. However, I'm not saying that the Adam wouldn't need some major changes to sell it here. First, the "Adam" name should be changed to something else here, simply because having salespeople at Buick dealerships explaining to potential buyers just who Adam Opel was and how he relates to both Buick and GM now makes no sense. Second, the Adam will need much more power than 87 hp, but using the same NA 1.8L and turbo 1.4L engines from the Sonic would easily solve this issue. And Third, Buick salespeople will have to be trained not to sell the Adam as the cheapest Buick on sale. Rather, they will have to be taught to sell the Adam as a "blank canvass" that the buyer can personalize with the vast number of dealer-installed options available, just like a Mini. Overall, with the "right" base price and the large number of Buick dealers, the Adam could easily out sell the Fiat 500 and their severely limited dealer network immediately and could even challenge the Mini in sales just on the fact that Buick dealers are easier to find and usually more conveniently located to more potential buyers. Personally, I wouldn't be surprised if GMC buyers with teenage children (daughters?) could be a major demographic buying group for the Adam, if it ever gets sold here, since Buick dealers tend to sell GMCs as well.
        chickenflauta
        • 1 Year Ago
        @rmt_1
        Thank you business and marketing strategist extraordinaire! Why aren't you sitting in the boardroom with GM?
      hn376rar
      • 1 Year Ago
      I said it before, I'll say it again, and again, and... Ford, GM need to offer an economy car with 2 doors. My only options currently (in the US) are foreign manufactures. Either bring this (Adam) over, or build the Tru140 (based on the Cruze platform – shouldn’t be that hard to reach “volume”). I have cash and I am waiting…
      Ryan C. Lawson
      • 1 Year Ago
      I really like it. I have a Sonic RS, so this really does it for me.
      robertlyt
      • 1 Year Ago
      I wish the MINI Cooper hardtop's seats folded flat like that!
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
        Derek Washington
        • 1 Year Ago
        "Government Motors" tells me you haven't had a thought that didn't come from Shepard Smith and the rest of the folks at the Clown Factory. This not about politics. It's about cars. Rather than bringing our hatred for The Magic Negro to a post about a tiny car, why don't you head over to www.imafreaknbore.com?
        riserburn99andre
        • 1 Year Ago
        Wow racism abound. I hope this time people get you kicked off for your remarks
        robertlyt
        • 1 Year Ago
        LOL@" Chinese eat up like paint laced milk or cat fried rice." :-D
        thecommentator2013
        • 1 Year Ago
        Let me guess, you haven't sat in the Opel Adam, right? Well, I got news for you and with any shadow of a doubt it IS far better than the Fiat 500, Mini Cooper and likewise. It feels better, the materials are better, it has all sort of cool options available like an LED StarSky (similar to the Rolls-Royce).
      knightrider_6
      • 1 Year Ago
      Ugh! what an ugly car.
      Derek Washington
      • 1 Year Ago
      I think this is a perfect candidate for Buick.
      Gordon Chen
      • 1 Year Ago
      Want
      Love Great Danes
      • 1 Year Ago
      Sell them at a Fiat Dealership, looks just like a 500.
      Ducman69
      • 1 Year Ago
      If it were 1994 and I had no sense of taste, I would be all over this!
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