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Vauxhall Adam Rocks Air – Driven and Reviewed

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The Adam’s been a huge success for Vauxhall since its release in 2012 and has sold especially well here in the UK. A huge part of the car’s modus operandi was based on personalisation, with over 1 million combinations of options apparently available. This thrust it into the highly competitive area of the market that’s also occupied by the ubiquitous MINI and Fiat’s 500. Brave move.

A Little Fact

Here’s a little Vauxhall Adam based fact for you; it’s the only model in the current Vauxhall range that doesn’t end in the letter ‘A’. Feel free to use that the next time you’re on a first date or you really want to impress your mates down the pub. Alphabet based nuggets of information aside though, what is this new version – the Adam Rocks Air all about?

 

vauxhall_adam_rocks_air_sunroofRocks Air?

This Rocks Air is a quasi-SUV version of the Adam, complete with a little rise in ride height (15mm) and some rufty-tufty bits of plastic splashed liberally about the place. That explains the ‘Rocks’ part of the new title then, but what is the ‘Air’ bit all about? It’ll come as no surprise that it refers to the full length fabric sunroof that every Adam Rocks comes with. Don’t worry if you didn’t really want a soft-top though; it doesn’t impede rear visibility when it’s folded back like some similar models do, and the added noise it creates is barely detectable.

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They might only be for show, but I feel that the visual additions to the Adam Rocks really set it apart from the base model and give it far more road presence. I’m not sure what the extra 15mm ride height will achieve in terms of off-road ability, but where the Adam could get lost in a crowd, the Adam Rocks stands out, especially with the 18” ‘Twister’ wheels that our test car was shod with.

vauxhall_adam_rocks_air_door_handleRide Quality

These enhanced looks do come at something of a price though, and I don’t just mean financially. The whole setup has been adjusted and tuned to accommodate the loftier height and it’s left the Adam Rocks jittery on uneven surfaces; any bumps and potholes are felt throughout the whole car, irrespective of which wheel encountered them.

This particular Adam Rocks is powered by the same 1.0l, three-cylinder engine that so impressed us in the New Corsa recently, proving to be competent and refined in equal measures. It works just as well in the smaller Adam, as you’d expect, and when it comes down to triple-cylinder units that are so de rigueur at the moment, it really puts Vauxhall up there with the best.

vauxhall_adam_rocks_air_goldIt combines the best qualities of a three cylinder engine – decent economy and bags of character, with a useable torque curve and just enough restraint in the sound department to not be intrusive. Plus, it gets this Adam Rocks Air to the 60mph mark in a not-too-shabby 9.9 seconds

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Simply press the Griffin, et voila…..

Luxurious Touches

Vauxhall as a brand aren’t really renowned for their luxurious little touches but that’s precisely what’s so satisfying about the Adam range as a whole.

Take, for example, the exterior boot release; not an element I usually get over-excited about but I feel it deserves special mention in this case. There isn’t a button or lever as such, one simply presses the boot’s entire Griffin badge and the bodywork depresses slightly, opening the boot.

Some of the prettiest dials I've encountered

Some of the prettiest dials I’ve encountered

The basic design and materials in the cabin are satisfying both in terms of aesthetics and quality. The rubber-look eye level plastics, user-friendly Intellilink infotainment system (£275 option) and large, circular air vents put the Adam Rocks ahead of much of the competition, but it’s the fabulous dials that seem to take inspiration from both the aviation and nautical world that pleased me most. A tiny spotlight glows behind the dials, following wherever the needles go, and when the stop/start kicks in, the tachometer needle doesn’t just drop to zero like most cars – it goes to an ‘Auto Stop’ position, leaving ‘Stop’ solely for when the ignition’s turned off. It’s these little touches that add an ‘air’ (excuse the pun) of exclusivity.

vauxhall_adam_rocks_air_interiorAt What Price Though?

The Adam Rocks Air’s premium look and feel does come with a premium price tag however; this exact car would set you back a whopping £20,335. It doesn’t have to be this way though; even with this highly desirable engine option that does suit the car so, the basic price is a far more reasonable £16,695. Or, if it’s just the show you’re after and the go element isn’t a priority, you can spec your Adam Rocks with their 1.2l unit, dropping the base price to £14,695.

There’s obvious flair, and equal amounts of care that’ve been put into the Adam Rocks Air’s design – both inside and out; show some restraint with the options list and you can end up with something that’s got enough taste and refinement to put any MINI to shame.

By Ben Harrington

Specifications; Vauxhall Adam Rocks Air, 1.0l 12v Direct Injection Turbo , Transmission – 6 spd manual, Layout – Front engine, FWD, Power – 115PS, Torque – 170Nm, Emissions – 119g/km CO2, Economy – 55.4 mpg combined, Maximum Speed – 121mph, Acceleration – 9.9s 0-62mph, Price – £16,695 OTR, £20,335 as tested

For full details, go to; http://www.vauxhall.co.uk/vehicles/vauxhall-range/cars/adam-rocks-air/overview.html

New Vauxhall Corsa – First Drive at UK Launch

How important is this?

Just to put into context how important the Corsa is to Vauxhall’s grand plan for the UK – in the last year, they shifted over 84K units – that’s more than the sum total of every model sold by some very respected manufacturers including Skoda and Fiat. Quite important then.

What’s new?

New_Vauxhall_Corsa_3_door_front_yellowErm, a lot. Every body-panel, everything forward of the A-post – including a new range of engines, and most of the interior. Vauxhall haven’t just tarted up an old model with this one, there’s some real effort and thought gone into this New Corsa. They’ve continued with the 3dr and 5dr options and their very different body shapes and target markets; the 3dr, or ‘coupe’ has a more sloping roofline which does eat into the rear headroom slightly, and is aimed at 25-35 year olds; the 5dr is the more sensible option and is expected to find homes on the driveways of 45-55 year olds who may be downsizing. Apparently, one of the major faults highlighted by the JD Power Survey in the previous Corsa was its propensity to come over all tropical and steam-up. To combat this, Vauxhall have made a heated front windscreen standard across the range. They have been listening.

Looking good

New_Vauxhall_Corsa_5_doorAs I said, every single body panel is new on this model; it’s still obviously a Corsa, and very much part of the Vauxhall family, a fact down in no small part to some features that have been borrowed from its siblings. There’s the striking ‘blades’ that run along the bottom of the doors – they’re found on both Adam and Astra. There’s the split front chin that widens the whole look of the ‘face’ – that’s taken from the Cascada. Vauxhall have quite cleverly borrowed from themselves to formulate what’s a cutting edge look whilst being instantly recognisable.

Life on the inside

New-Vauxhall_Corsa_interiorEverything’s been shifted from a vertical approach to a horizontal slant inside the New Corsa. There’s the ‘ever-so-of-the-moment‘ piano black plastic available, sweeping across most of the dash, with a flash of colour inserted that differs from spec to spec. The central touchscreen is lifted straight from the Adam – no bad thing as it’s easy to use and allows options or ‘apps’ to be added at relatively low-cost – just like a smart phone. The heater controls are slightly clumsy and aren’t quite as cutting edge as the rest of the dash, but gone is the cheap plastic steering wheel from Corsas of old – in its place is a chunky, tactile leather affair that’s far more satisfying, although the position of the steering column stalks require some hand repositioning to operate, which isn’t ideal. It’s easy to get a more low-slung, involving driving position than in previous Corsas, if that’s your kind of thing. What isn’t easy is getting the seats to provide optimum comfort, and the taller driver may find long journeys a touch taxing.

On the road

There’s quite a few engine options in the New Corsa, a few of them having been carried over from the previous generation. There is a 1.3 Diesel available, but the emphasis is undoubtedly on petrol power, and in particular that slightly left-field genre of engine that’s seemingly sweeping aside all laid before it – the three-cylinder. We road tested the 1.4l 4 cylinder and the turbo-charged 1.0l triple in 115ps guise, and it’s the latter that wins through on many levels. GM have by no means missed the boat with three-cylinder engines and haven’t either rushed one out or outsourced from another manufacturer, what they seem to have been doing is biding their time and making sure theirs picks up where others left off and improved the recipe.

It might not be quite as efficient as Ford’s EcoBoost unit (57.6mpg vs 65.7mpg), but by adding something called a balancer shaft, the engine is so smooth at both idle and high revs that it’s almost unrecognisable as a three-cylinder. Change-up indicators are frequently over-optimistic and can result in some shuddering as the fun is drained from your driving experience; not so with this clever little power-plant. Vauxhall claim that 90% of its maximum torque comes in at 1500rpm, and it’s all available at just 1800rpm. What this means in the real world is that you can keep your driving style nice and relaxed with the minimum of gear changes, safe in the knowledge that the car will pick up speed with hardly any fuss. New_Vauxhall_Corsa_3_door_rear_yellow

The Corsa’s new chassis components have altered the handling and ride over the last model, and in certain aspects it’s all very grown up. The suspension soaks up bumps admirably but the whole car does have a tendency to bounce and rebound over more uneven, changeable surfaces. On the other hand though, put the New Corsa on a motorway  and it feels far more comfortable and competent than a B-segment car has any right to; it’s more B+ than B. The electronic power steering still feels a touch wooly at times with not quite enough feedback and weightiness, but it’s surely the simplest of tasks to alter this when sportier models such as the VXR and Sting R are released further down the line.

If you are considering the New Corsa, it’s definitely worth knowing that Vauxhall have dropped their prices by an average of £1500 compared to the outgoing model. Perhaps more pertinently, this makes it roughly £1000 cheaper than the equivalent Fiesta.

By Ben Harrington

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