independent

Friday 18 April 2014

No pizza the action for Adam

Opel's new city car tries to take on the Mini and Fiat 500 but falls short on every level, writes Campbell Spray

TUESDAY is usually a special night at home. For the last year or two, it has been pizza night. We call Domino's down the road, and a Vegetarian Special and Sizzler are delivered for €20. We think we deserve the treat. My partner has had psychotherapy clients for the afternoon and evening and I have been at my part-time MA course (in ethics, if you really want to know) for over three hours after a day in the office.

Last week, things changed, my partner decided that for her, at least, Tuesday would not be pizza night. So rather than giving Domino's the same amount for just one pizza, I called in at Tesco on the way home and bought one pizza and a few extras for the top. It didn't work out, the Domino's version never hits the bin but the Tesco one – even with my little additions – was there, with just a quarter gone.

It all reminded me of the Opel Adam, a car that tries to take on the Mini and Fiat 500 but fails disastrously. It is a very poor pastiche, and for goodness sake, they have had long enough to get it right. It fails at every level – looks (it reminded me of an old-fashioned pram), build quality, rear space and useless boot.

Even the name, Adam, after the original Mr Opel, and the three variants, Jam, Glam and Slam, tell of a marketing idea that has got out of hand and has left the talk bigger than the walk. While the Adam starts at €14,995, there was nearly €3,000 of extras on the test (wait for it) Adam Jam 1.4i Petrol 16v VVTi in Pump Up the Blue. The marketing executive did apologise for the car being covered in bird poo as it had been left under a tree overnight but even so, you knew this car and its "two-coat pearlescent" would soon look very shabby and dated.

I could have forgiven a lot in the Adam if it had any of the fun or excitement that makes the Mini stand out and the Fiat 500 a quirky and cheaper alternative. Unfortunately it hadn't. It gives a harsh, bumpy ride with pretty poor handling and even the 1.4 petrol engine is fairly low on grunt although you should get more than 50mpg.

Despite being quite wide up front, the overall car has very limited practicality. I'd hate to be a passenger and the luggage space is woeful, plus I don't think it will have great resale value. Yet on the plus side, it is very easy to park, has a very beguiling "infotainment" system and you can personalise it until the cows come home but you are probably diminishing your chances of selling it on.

The next night, I was walking the dog past my local Ford dealer; it had a trio of 131 Fiestas at the same price of the most basic Adam. There's really no contest. And if it's real value you want, the new Hyundai i10 is getting absolutely rave reviews and is likely to start at around €12,000.

Naturally the Adam won't be high on my voting paper for the Continental Irish Car of the Year awards, which has just got under way to pick a shortlist before the final announcement on November 21. At an IMWA meeting last Monday, we came up with a massive list of some 55 brand new cars – not facelifts, derivatives or tweaks – which have been, or will be, launched in the 12 months since October 31 last year. The list ranges from cars such as the bargain basement Dacia range to others like the Jaguar F-Type and Porsche Cayman. In the middle, the Skoda Octavia, Toyota Corolla, Mercedes A-Class, Citroen C4 Picasso, Nissan Note, Renault Clio and Volkswagen Golf will be vying for votes to win their sectors and the overall car of the year award. The Golf must go into the contest as favourite, having already picked up the European and World Car of the Year awards this year. But the IMWA members don't like their decisions being taken for granted!

It's a bit like pizzas, we all have our favourites.

Sunday Independent

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