IN THE beginning, there was Adam from the Garden of Eden. Then there was Ian… from Glasgow. Not an immediately obvious connection perhaps, but creation is the common theme.
Whether Adam was the ancestor of all of us along with his partner Eve depends on your religious leanings, but I can vouch for the reality of Ian. He’s a quiet 38-year old, who qualified in accountancy from Paisley University and for the past wee while has been pre-occupied with Adam. Not the two legged version, but rather the latest four-wheel creation of Vauxhall.
As product manager, he’s the man responsible for making sure the new supermini has all the elements and features to make it a winner for the company when it appears on British roads early next year. It’s a huge job, with Vauxhall heaping a whole load of investment to compete with retro rivals such as the Mini, Fiat 500 and VW’s Beetle. But let’s look at the big issue first and that’s the name.
Even before the car is available for order, it has achieved something significant – people are talking about it. It’s named after the founder of Vauxhall’s larger GM sister company, Adam Opel, and it will effectively become Vauxhall’s entry-level car, so from that perspective, the name Adam seems quite sensible.
But that’s where predictability and conventional thinking stops. The folks at GM have thrown off the shackles of the past which have led to the company’s cars being labelled as safe, but dull and uninteresting. The Adam, in contrast, is bold, imaginative, free-thinking and great fun and is bound to draw in new customers.
Masterminding this for the UK market is Ian Mitchell, who was brought up in Giffnock. He’s been in the car business since joining the graduate trainee scheme with the Rover Group and then Land Rover, where he was involved in product development of the Discovery 3. Spells at Aston Martin, Audi and Alfa Romeo followed, which suited the self-confessed car nut.
“I used to spend all my pocket money on car mags,” he told me as the car was revealed for the first time for us to drive in Portugal. As an accountant and financial controller, he found life frustrating. “I spent all my time saying ‘no’ but now I’m looking forward to customers getting the chance to experience Adam.”
I could sense his enthusiasm. Even for someone who’s been immersed in the car for more than a year, he could be seen wandering round the collection of around 40 assorted Adams, looking at the detail, absorbed in his baby. Certainly there’s lot to take in. There are so many options on this car that Vauxhall is confidently predicting that even with more than 8,000 sales in the UK next year, no two Adams will be the same – or to put it another way, yours will be very individual. In fact, it’s reckoned there will be more than one million different combinations.
For a start, there are three wacky trim levels – Jam (funky), Glam (elegant) and Slam (sporty) – and then 12 crazy body colour combinations, including Purple Fiction and James Blonde. Added to that there are three roof colours – I’ll Be Black, White My Fire and Men In Brown. There’s more – three decal packages, 20 wheel designs and interchangeable coloured clips to fit onto the wheels. It sounds crazy, but it works really well and takes to another level the sort of colour customisation which began with the Mini and has been developed further by Citroen with its DS range.
When you move inside, there’s even more innovation, with 15 different seat treatments, 18 interchangeable décor panels on the dashboard and doors backlit by LEDs, eight colour settings of the ambient interior lighting, three printed roof headliners with clouds, autumn leaves or chequered flag and you can go a stage further with the starlight headlining of 64 LEDs to create a starry sky. It sounds crazy but it’s actually great fun and I think the biggest problem a potential buyer will have is deciding what options to have in their own Adam on top of the generous standard kit which includes 16-inch alloys, air-con, DAB radio, Bluetooth and cruise control.
There’s also Hill Start Assist, City Mode which lightens the steering for slow-speed town driving and the most interesting, the £275 Intellilink system which couples your smartphone to the seven-inch touchscreen for music, phone calls and sat nav. There will be three petrol engines to start with, a 1.2 and two 1.4s with either 86 or 98bhp and attractive economy.
My test car with the less powerful 1.4 engine wasn’t the fastest but it was perfectly capable in a range of conditions and no buyer of this car is going to be looking for performance. It’s much more of a fashion statement and you know your Adam will be the only one of its kind. With prices starting at £11,255 it’s bound to bring a smile to your face… and Ian Mitchell will be happy too.
CAR Vauxhall Adam 1.4 16V 87PS EcoFlex Glam
PERFORMANCE Max speed 110 mph; 0-62 mph 12.5 secs
MPG 55.4mpg combined
CO2 EMISSIONS 119g/km