Vauxhall Adam Rocks Air

October 2014

picture of car from the front

The addition of grey plastic exterior panels marks out the Adam Rocks Air

Ratings

Overall Rating 7Overall rating

Value for money Rating 7Value for money

Space and Practicality Rating 8Costs

Space and Practicality Rating 6Space and practicality

Controls and display Rating 8Controls and display

Comfort Rating 7Comfort

Security Rating 7Car security

Safety Rating 7Car safety


Likes

  • Eye-catching exterior is a big appeal
  • Impressive new three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine is frugal and responsive
  • Cabin is smart, modern and feels of good quality
  • Roof adds fresh air appeal to the mix

Gripes

  • Marginal benefit over a standard Adam
  • Although steering is accurate it lacks any discernable feel
  • Some shiny plastic surfaces can feel cheap
  • Rear passengers are not afforded much space

Vauxhall entered the style-driven small car market with its Adam, designed to tackle head on key rivals like the Fiat 500 and Mini. However neither of those brands have stayed still either, which is why Vauxhall has swiftly introduced the Adam Rocks as a further spin-off from the original Adam in the crossover mould.

In creating the Adam Vauxhall took on-board the key factors that make this kind of car popular and made them their own. Therefore a regular Adam has distinctive and unusual styling, a wide scope for personalisation and a selection of small, efficient engines. However both key rivals have broadened the appeal of their key offerings by spinning crossovers off the same platform.

Vauxhall's response to this has arrived in the shape of the Adam Rocks Air. Fundamentally the Rocks Air is broadly similar to the standard car with just a few selected mechanical changes. Visually it inherits the standard Adam exterior, but adds pseudo off-road plastic cladding around the wheelarches and on the bumpers front and rear to give it some more presence.

To further enhance the visual toughness the Adam Rocks Air also rides 15mm higher than the standard Adam, while the suspension itself is retuned to match the change in ride height. However it is worth noting that the changes are purely cosmetic; despite the looks the Adam Rocks Air offers no more off-road ability than the standard car other than the change in ground clearance, and remains strictly two-wheel-drive with no off-road electronics.

Another element that is unique to the Rocks Air version of the Adam is the folding fabric roof. Designed more as an extended sunroof than a full convertible, the fabric panel retracts as far back as the B-pillar and can be operated at speeds up to 85mph. Also thanks to its folding mechanism it doesn't interfere with rear visibility when retracted.

Our verdict on the Vauxhall Adam Rocks Air

The Adam Rocks Air offers something a little different to the standard car, with a more design-heavy exterior and the fresh air motoring of the folding roof. However it is debatable whether this is enough to justify the additional expense over the standard car, as the mechanical changes give no off-road ability and arguably affects on-road performance. The new three-cylinder engine is a big step forward however.

Costs
Costs rating 8

The Adam Rocks Air has the potential to offer low running costs, with low CO2, impressive fuel economy and vehicle excise duty in 1.0-litre form, but the initial purchase price has to be taken into account and there are several rivals that are as cheap or cheaper to run with a lower price tag.

Space and practicality
Space and Practicality Rating 6

There are deep and long door pockets which add practicality, as well as a partitioned open compartment at the base of the centre console that proves useful for coins and other oddments. Otherwise this is not the most practical of cars, with restricted boot space a key consideration for some people. There are several optional ways to improve matters, though, like a luggage net and a lockable in-boot compartment.

picture of car from the rear

The ride height of the Adam Rocks Air is increased by 15mm

Controls and display
Controls and Display Rating 8

The main instrument cluster is clear, well illuminated and stylish. It fits the overall feeling of the car well and helps to give the driver a greater sense of enjoyment. On this car the central colour touch-screen is fresh-looking, clear and easily legible. It's among the best of its type. Elsewhere the controls follow a standard pattern and fall easily to hand via two chunky and solid-feeling ancillary stalks.

Comfort
Comfort Rating 7

The Adam Rocks Air performs better than the standard car in this respect, thanks to the softer suspension and superior ride quality. The engine is also more refined than the non-turbocharged petrol units. The front seats are supportive and comfortable, while those in the rear are all the better for being designed for two occupants rather than three.

Car security
Security Rating 7

Remote central locking is standard on all Adams, as is an immobiliser, while some models can be ordered with tinted glass around the rear half of the car to make it harder for would-be criminals to see inside. Additionally there is the option of a lockable storage container made to fit the boot, which is great for valuables.

Car safety
Safety Rating 7

Six airbags and an advanced construction take care of the passive safety elements, while there are many active safety systems available that are designed to avoid or mitigate a dangerous on-road situation. A development of Vauxhall's ESP stability control called ESP-plus is standard on all Adams, along with ABS to ensure a safe stop especially in low-grip conditions and steering wheel-mounted audio controls to ensure a driver can keep both hands on the wheel.

Driver appeal
Driver Appeal Rating 7

The addition of the 1.0-litre turbocharged engine has a big impact on the way the Adam Rocks Air drives. Despite its diminutive size it propels the Adam along with vigour, and although there is a little three-cylinder thrum it is actually a very refined engine and cruises with little noise. The suspension changes result in a softer overall setting which helps the ride quality compared to the standard car, the only demerit being the steering which is light to the point of lacking any genuine feel.

picture of car interior

The stylish and tech-laden cabin of the Adam is impressive

Family car appeal
Family Appeal Rating 5

The Adam Rocks Air is not really suited to family life unless perhaps as a second car for a family that already has a larger, more practical vehicle. The three-door layout is not helpful when trying to squeeze children into the back or mount car seats, and there isn't enough legroom for older kids. The cabin materials can also be quite sensitive to knocks and scrapes, with a variety of surface textures that can be vulnerable.

First car appeal
First car Rating 7

The Adam Rocks Air on the face of it appears to be perfect first car material thanks to its size, ease of driving and low running costs. However the initial purchase price is surprisingly high, putting it above the common first-car level and in contention with more practical and appealing rivals.

Quality and image
Quality and Image Rating 6

Vauxhall does not have a brilliant record in customer satisfaction surveys and its image has suffered over the years. It sits in the middle ground of car brands but Vauxhall aims to push further upmarket with cars like the Adam. As such the actual feel inside the car is very positive, with a nice chunky steering wheel one of the keys to a solid overall impression. The coloured leather may begin to look dirty quickly, though, reducing the premium feel.

Accessibility
Accessibility Rating

As a small, three-door car accessibility is never going to be one of the Adam's strongest suits, and for rear passengers it certainly isn't. The side doors are quite long, which necessitates a lengthy step forwards into the car unless the door can be opened all the way. For the same reason the seat belt mount on the B-pillar will be a little bit of a stretch for some people.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

As standard the Adam Rocks Air comes with Bluetooth and DAB radio as standard, but it is worth the modest investment to get the Intellilink system to give smartphone integration. With this system optioned there are a host of apps that can be installed to give sat-nav, audio streaming and more.

picture of car in detail

The three-cylinder turbocharged engine is a huge improvement

Colours and trim

Like the standard Adam the Rocks Air is available with a wide range of trim packs that cover both the exterior and interior, as well as two new colours of its own. It's even better on the inside as the Adam Rocks Air as it benefits from appealing touches such as leather on the steering wheel and coloured panels in the cabin.

Parking

The Adam Rocks Air is very easy to manoeuvre, and the 'city' steering system reduces the effort required on the steering which is a help in such situations. Visibility is good all around the car, too, but the Adam does have a trick up its sleeve in the shape of an optional self-parking system. With a little driver input the Adam can parallel- or bay-park itself.

Spare wheel

Emergency tyre repair kit supplied as standard.

 

Range information

Petrol engine options - 1.0-litre (113bhp); 1.2-litre (69bhp); 1.4-litre (86bhp, 99bhp). Transmission options: five-speed manual gearbox only. Trim levels: Adam Rocks Air only.

 

Alternative cars

Fiat 500C Charming and good-looking, full-length roof reduces rear visibility

Mini Cooper Fun to drive, bigger than before and better quality too

Citroen DS3 Modern, appealing styling sets it apart, with a good range of engines

Renault Twingo Brand-new rival blends city car space with a rear-engined layout



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October 2014