Wednesday 7th November 2012


More PH-worthy version of the cutesy new city car waiting in the wings

There's a good chance Vauxhall is going to create a hot VXR version of its new Adam city car, PistonHeads has learned.

"The chassis can handle the power up to a current Corsa VXR," chief engineer Dieter Metz said, before abruptly stopping in case he said too much. That would mean 192hp in a car weighing just over a tonne.

Shared Corsa platform opens possibilities
Shared Corsa platform opens possibilities
If you've been unable to get past the silly name, then you'll need to know the Adam is Vauxhall's answer to the Fiat 500 that appears in showrooms February. It's got all the visual trickery pounced on by makers of small cars looking to replicate the success of the Mini, stuff like the 'floating' roof and miniscule rear overhang. There's also a mass of 'personalisation' options such as LED-studded roof liners.

But that need not concern us. The derivative shape doesn't look too bad and after a drive of it, we can report that the building blocks for a decent hot hatch of the ability of the Corsa VXR are there.

Right now the engine choice is mediocre. The all-petrol line up of a 1.2 and pair of 1.4-litre units are taken from the Corsa, and can muster no more than 100hp. The 87hp 1.4 we tried was a bit thrashy and not much fun to rev.

This is unimportant for the 'fashion' market that compromises the bulk of sales for these cars. Those customers won't care too much the five-speed manual is a bit baulky, or that the steering hasn't any feel.

'Slam Extreme' (yo) concept hints at VXR
'Slam Extreme' (yo) concept hints at VXR
But there's the gleam of a PistonHeads future for this car. The first big improvement adds a brand-new one-litre three-cylinder, direct-injection turbo engine next year, mated to a new six-speed manual 'box. Just as with the Ford 1.0 Ecoboost, there will be two states of tune, "one under 100hp, one over 100hp" according to Metz, who refused to name either figure.

Unlike the Ford unit this is an all-aluminium lump, which would should drop the base weight from 1,086kg to below a tonne. A one-litre turbo making 120hp powering that car would be good fun.

But Metz said more powerful engines are in the frame. "The 1.4 turbo [from the Astra] is an option," he said. And of course the 1.6 turbo from the Corsa VXR.

We're a fan of that little hooligan and the Adam is built from essentially the same platform, minus 20cm. So it's short but also wide, wider than a Mini. We liked the sharp turn-in, the grip and the way the roll was well maintained in the corners. We'd go with the boggo 16-inch alloys instead of the 17-inch or 18-inch, both of which come with a sports suspension that made it a bit hoppy on bad roads.

The Adam starts from £12,650 when it arrives in showrooms in February next year, but the fun will start with arrival of the Ford-rivalling one-litre, potentially badged SRi, and progressing hopefully to a full blown VXR. At which point you just might give a dam (strike one, two and three; you're out! - Ed).

Author: NickGibbs
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