Too much jam?

Road test: Vauxhall Adam Jam, Glam and Slam

Vauxhall’s new little Adam has arrived somewhat late into a busy market sector.  Refreshingly though, it doesn’t pull on any heritage from half a century ago but offers a new car with contemporary shape and a huge variety of options.  Front and rear enjoy a design language all of the Adam’s own; the arrow sculpting round the door handles and the hockey stick shape on the lower part of the doors mirror similar features on other Vauxhall models.  It does crowd many design cues onto each small car making it look busy but it is certainly striking.

The sheer array of colour/trim combinations available to the Adam (‘one car, a million possibilities’) not only makes it difficult to sum-up in a review but is frankly bewildering for any potential purchaser.  For those wanting to understand the psychology of choice, I’ll point them to Barry Schwartz’ excellent book: ‘The Paradox of Choice – Why More is Less’.  If you’re just after a review of the Adam, I’ll pull out a single example from his book to illustrate.

In one of a series of studies entitled “When Choice is Demotivating”, customers were offered sample jams at the entrance to a supermarket.  For a period, they were offered six flavours; another session provided 24 flavours to taste.  All flavours were available to buy in-store.  The sales results were extremely telling, though.  With six tester flavours, take-up was good with about 30% of people buying the jam.  When 24 flavours were offered, only 3% bought the jam.

The reasons are complicated but with so many options for the Adam, the extended choosing process also lengthens the concern around ‘am I making the right choice?’ and raises the issue around post-purchase product satisfaction: maybe the other colour with different wheels and style pack would have been smarter, funkier, better than the neighbour’s Adam; perhaps Glam would be better than Jam…

A million options

So, in an attempt to condense the million options, there are three basic trim levels: the Slam, Glam and (appropriately-named) Jam.  These are, respectively, sporty, luxury and funky with Slam being the dearest and Jam the cheapest although not by a great deal, especially after adding a few options.  There are three engine choices too: 1.2 70PS, 1.4 87PS and 1.4 100PS (all petrol and each available with or without stop-start).

First I tried the Slam (running on optional 18” wheels) and the Glam (on 17”), both with the 87PS 1.4 unit.  The engine offers acceptable performance and certainly shows willing when the revs approach 4,000 rpm.  It’s smooth, the gear change is precise and the driving position is very good.  The Slam is not an out-and-out sports hatch but all Adams inspire a similar confidence through the corners.  Aimed at a young audience, it’s all very balanced and forgiving and turn-in is good.  The main downside in the driving pleasure is the electronic steering which feels somewhat detached from the wheels.  It’s both very light (even when not in ‘city’ mode) and seems to take a fraction of a second to respond to fast changes in direction.

Stacked with useful kit

All models are stacked with useful kit and I was pleased to see a conventional hand brake in there, too.  The modest boot is usefully deep but has a very high sill.  On these press cars, the exterior body colour is echoed on the dash board, door inserts and even on the key.  It’s all very cheery and works well with the main instruments.  These are clear and the associated controls easy to use.  Reflecting Vauxhall’s drive to create premium vehicles, the fit and finish is good and the bits you touch all have a well screwed-together feel.

Surprise of the day is the lower-specified Jam, with 16” wheels and 1.2 engine.  It’s certainly not quick – especially in the mid-range – but the improved ride and silky-smooth engine make it my choice.

Now, it’s which of the 15 packs, 17 personalisation options, four wheel choices and 37 accessories I fancy.  Oh, and the 12 ridiculously-named paint colours…

Vauxhall Adam in Jam, Glam and Slam trim, as tested:

Jam 1.2i 16V VVT 70 PS ecoFLEX start/stop in Papa don’t Peach: £11,550 plus £2,165 options (Jam starts at £11,255). Power: 70 PS (5,600 rpm), torque: 115 Nm (4,000 rpm), emissions: 118 g/km CO2 (band C), 0-62 mph: 14.9 secs.

Glam 1.4i 16V VVT 87 PS ecoFLEX start/stop in Purple Fiction: £13,270 plus £3,290 options (Glam starts at £12,650). Power: 87 PS (6,000 rpm), torque: 130 Nm (4,000 rpm), emissions: 129 g/km CO2 (band D), 0-62 mph: 12.5 secs.

Slam 1.4i 16V VVT 87 PS ecoFLEX start/stop in Red ‘n’ Roll: £13,770 plus £1,825 options (Slam starts at £13,150). Power: 87 PS (6,000 rpm), torque: 130 Nm (4,000 rpm), emissions: 130 g/km CO2 (band D), 0-62 mph: 12.5 secs.

Motor Writer rating: ●●●○○


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