First Drive: Opel ADAM S on Track

The Opel ADAM S is the range-topping ADAM we’ve been waiting for, in the absence of any OPC derivative both locally and abroad.  The wait is now over and Opel’s feistiest boutique hatch has arrived, complete with 3 colour options (Saturday White Fever & Shiny Rock with a Red Roof and Red n Roll with a Grey Roof), an extensive standard kit list, sporty looks, and a turbocharged engine to do the dirty work.


Visually the Opel ADAM S boasts a new sports body kit, comprising side skirts, lightweight 18-inch alloys, a front splitter and roof-mounted rear spoiler, both of which are claimed to generate genuine downforce.  Behind the 18-inch Propeller design wheels, shod in 225/35 profile Continental rubber, the Opel ADAM S boasts 308mm front brake discs pinched from the old Corsa OPC, and equipped with red calipers.


Internally the Opel ADAM S features rubber studded Sport pedals, a leather clad sports gear shift lever, and unique ADAM S dash inserts with S badging.  The standard seats have been tossed out in favour of Recaro sport bucket seats, clad in a cloth-vinyl combination.  They’re not quite OPC spec seats, but they offer superb levels of support and comfort with easy in- and egress.  Opel’s ‘red your engine’ style pack comes standard, equipping the gear lever, handbrake and steering wheel with red highlights.


Opel ADAM S Driven on the Track:


Out on the hot tarmac of Port Elizabeth’s Aldo Scribante Raceway – a strictly 3rd and 4th gear circuit with the Opel ADAM S’ setup – the Recaro seats prove their value through quick esses and tight hairpins.


The OPC-tuned suspension boasts stiffer anti-roll bars, stiffer springs and a stiffer rear torsion beam – all of which tightens the Opel ADAM S’ body control resulting in less roll and vastly reduced yawing through sudden changes in direction.  There still exists a small amount of body-roll, but the linear weight transfer is communicative and adds to the driving experience.

The suppleness of the ADAM still remains despite the firming of the suspension setup, with curbs on track being soaked up amply without upsetting the 1178Kg warm hatch’s line through a corner.  With a neutral handling balance, resistant to understeer, the Opel ADAM S’ steering line can be trimmed with a playful dab of lift-off oversteer.


The 110kW, 220Nm, 1.4-litre turbocharged engine is the same you’ll find in the Corsa Sport.  In the Opel ADAM S though, it takes on a rortier persona with a more aggressive aural tone and stronger power delivery – no doubt a benefit of the lower weight.  Driving the front wheels via a 6-speed manual transmission, Opel claim the ADAM S will make the obligatory 0-100km/h sprint in 8.5 seconds.  It feels punchier than that – with a solid shunt from behind as peak torque arrives around the 3000rpm mark, continuing to 4000rpm.


The Opel ADAM S feels sufficiently grunty through the midrange, where 3rd and 4th gear acceleration is more than ample.  The gear-shift between the two (Scribante is a 3rd and 4th gear circuit, remember) is short, quick, and solid; and the pedals are placed appropriately for heel ‘n toe rev matching on downshifts.


Braking performance is an area of particular impressiveness – those Corsa OPC-derived brakes took a solid beating, lap after hot, hard lap, and yet resisted fade and bit consistently with progression and communication.


Steering feel, an area of weakness on lower spec ADAMs, has been vastly improved in the Opel ADAM S guise – although the directness still remains, making the short wheelbase ADAM S darty and agile.  It’s weightier too; not heavy, but with enough resistance to add a bit of life to the system.


A longer, more diverse drive would be needed to ascertain how the Opel ADAM S handles in everyday scenarios – but as a first indication, the track time has shown the ADAM S to be a thoroughly fun machine.  What it does show though is that the door is wide open for a full OPC model.  The chassis begs for more than the 110kW on offer, and would happily handle more in its current state.


Spec and Pricing:


Based on the ADAM Jam Xtreme package for specification and equipment, the Opel ADAM S is equipped as standard with climate control, cruise control, electric windows, Advanced Park Assist, Side Blind Spot Alert, and Opel’s IntelliLink infotainment and connectivity suite.


On the safety front, the Opel ADAM S boasts ABS, EBD, ESP, 6 airbags and a 4-star NCAP safety rating, and a steel spare wheel.


But the spec comes with a price that might scare some potential customers away.  While priced in line with competitors from Abarth and Citroen (Abarth 500 and Citroen DS3), the R330 000 tag places it some R31 300 more expensive than the more powerful, more practical, equally as talented Ford Fiesta ST.


With that said, the Opel ADAM S is a limited edition model.  Only 50 units are being brought in, all with a fixed price that will remain unaffected by exchange rate fluctuations.  It takes the edge off the shock of price somewhat knowing the ADAM S parked in your garage is one of only 50.

Opel ADAM, Opel, Opel ADAM S, ADAM S, #OpelADAM, Torquing Cars

Look out for the track video coming soon.


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