The normal Adams have lots of grip and vague, inconsistent steering, which makes them uninspiring to drive quickly. Their light weight – all models clock in at little more than a tonne – is a benefit and the small engines over the nose prevent understeer from rearing its head, certainly in the dry, but there’s no hidden treasure to unearth in the rest of the chassis. The Adam is clearly set up for A-to-B-ers and thus driving the hatchback hard ends up becoming an exercise in futility.
The Rocks is a funny one, because while it is obviously softer and higher-riding than the hatchback models, it couples a vastly improved ride quality with mildly entertaining dynamics. Once again, this may be a case of the reality exceeding modest expectations, but the way the Rocks restricts both body roll and weight transfer, and the fact it provides plenty of grip from its standard-fit 18-inch tyres, makes for amusing progress when you decide to press on. It’s a more cheerful car than the regular hatch.
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The Adam S is the obvious champion of the range for keener drivers, though, because it resists torque-steer brilliantly (something not all performance Vauxhalls can claim), its steering is the best of the entire range in terms of weighting and precision and, with VXR-spec 308mm front brake discs and uprated suspension, the S is a perfectly decent, involving and tidy handler.
The problem is that, Rocks aside, the rest of the Adam range has a comparatively poor ride for this class of car, an unwelcome trait that is only exacerbated by the larger 17- and 18-inch alloys and the sports suspension you’ll find on both the Slam and S models. The firm setup, along with steering that's darty around the straight-ahead give the Adam a kind of superficial sportiness, but the rewards aren't there for the really keen driver.
With the Adam S, the damping does at least work better at higher pace to mitigate a borderline awful low-speed ride, and you also get its crisper, VXR-fettled chassis, but on the Slam this jittery attitude is going to put buyers off.