The Opel ADAM ROCKS is second latest model to join the boutique ADAM offering – the latest is the ADAM S we’ll be testing in a few weeks’ time. But gimmicky naming aside (they are getting you to inadvertently proclaim your love for the ADAM), we’d like to know if the ADAM ROCKS has any substance to back up the visual bravado.
Visually, it’s there – the ‘ROCKS’ denomination indicative that this model is a crossover, and the black body cladding highlights that notion. That body cladding looks good too – giving the Opel ADAM Rocks a masculine stance to its usually feminine styling. There’s an increased ride height… but it’s only 15mm taller than a standard ADAM and is hardly noticeable with the 18-inch Twister design alloy wheels filling the arches.
Truthfully though, the Opel ADAM ROCKS isn’t really a crossover in the slightest – more what I’d term a faux-by-four. Any dreams of taking this off-road are quickly dashed; beneath the rugged cladding and the ROCKS suffix, it’s still a standard ADAM. That means it has front wheel drive, with a 1.0-litre turbo triple under the bonnet and a 6-speed manual gearbox in between the two.
That’s not a bad thing. That 1-litre mill and new 6-speed manual are both real gems that we’ve come to love in every Opel application they’re found in – the ADAM, Corsa, and new Astra – and for good reason.
The Opel ADAM ROCKS’ little 3-pot is torquey (power and torque figures are 85kW and 170Nm at 5000-6000rpm and 1800-4500rpm respectively) and impressively refined with smooth power delivery and an unobtrusive thrum to the engine note. There is some turbo-lag though – 3 little cylinders, as efficient as they may be (6.1l/100km is what we achieved), don’t quite generate enough puff all in one go to get the turbo up to full speed immediately. The gearbox is slick with medium-length throws and a solid, smooth shift quality paired with a lightweight clutch action.
Being as compact as it is, the ride quality isn’t as supple as you might think. Despite the 15mm raised ride height, the Opel ADAM ROCKS doesn’t gain much in the way of comfort over the standard ADAM. Perhaps my memory has jaded my opinion somewhat, but I remember the standard ADAM’s damping being slightly more effective at keeping rippling road surfaces out of the cabin.
However the extra wheel travel, as little as it may be, does have some benefit during cornering. That extra bit of travel helps negate mid-corner bumps with just a touch more aptitude, whilst not compromising the relatively small amount of body-roll we loved in the standard ADAM. The Opel ADAM ROCKS is still chuckable through corners, with high levels of front end grip and oodles of smile-generating ability.
Chuck it down any string of curves and corners and you come out the other side smiling. It’s all to do with the terrier-like levels of tenacity with which the Opel ADAM ROCKS will attack any stretch of road, making commuter-speed fun. Sadly though, the steering isn’t quite as involving as I’d have liked. But the electric setup is weightier than standard ADAMs, and the direct nature and quick direction changes are still applicable.
The overall levels of refinement and composure are truly ‘big car’ in nature though, completely belying the diminutive dimensions of the Opel ADAM ROCKS. From the front seat-backs forward you’d never know you were in anything this small, as the spaciousness for the driver and front passenger are truly grand. Unlike the Fiat 500 – the ADAM’s closest competitor – the pedal-box and passenger foot well are capacious, and shoulder-room in the cabin is generous.
The levels of tech in the Opel ADAM ROCKS are ‘big-car’ too – sporting tech you’d need to buy truly ‘premium’ to acquire. The IntelliLink touch screen infotainment system – one of the best on the market, let alone the segment, is standard and features a host of mobile connectivity options and app link-ups to give users access to navigation, internet radio etc. The Opel ADAM ROCKS also boasts Opel’s APA2 (Advance Park Assist 2) which includes front and rear park sensors, rear view camera, and the ability to expertly park itself – both alley docked and parallel. In addition, auto-headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming rear view mirror, hill start assist and blind spot assist all feature as standard.
The regular modern conveniences make an appearance too – daytime running lamps, electronic climate control, cruise control with speed limiter, and an onboard computer. Unique to the Opel ADAM ROCKS is a retractable soft-top roof for the ‘outdoor feel’, and an Infinity 6-speaker sound system with a sub woofer – so whilst it may not be climbing any, the ADAM ROCKS out to high quality music.
Although ‘big’ from the front seats forward, rearward of that the Opel ADAM ROCKS is truly tiny. The rear seats are barely child-sized and the boot is truly diminutive – we’re talking 170-litres with the rear seats up. This can be increased to 484 with the rear seat-backs dropped, but it’s still not much.
But it is boutique, and the competitors offer little more practicality than the Opel ADAM ROCKS. It also justifies the somewhat expensive price tag of R287 100 to those interested in these types of cars, especially when the extensive levels of tech and kit are considered.
Being a boutique supermini the Opel ADAM ROCKS is also extensively customisable. Only available in 3 exterior colours – Red n Roll, Saturday White Fever, and the striking Goldbusters on test – the ADAM ROCKS’ Twister wheels can be colour-customised, as can the side mirror covers and front logo blade through the grill. The interior trim can also be completely customised – and with so many ways to customise the ADAM ROCKS, there’s an almost infinite amount of possible configurations to choose from.
With no outright competitors to the Opel ADAM ROCKS’ rugged appeal, it’s difficult to compare it and place it within the current market. But in isolation, as well as in the company of the closest possible competition, the ADAM ROCKS is incredibly competent, well refined, and extensively kitted out. Arguably the smallest ‘big car’ you’ll ever own – and the safest too, with ABS, EBD, ESP, 6 airbags and a 4-star Euro NCAP rating.
Words: Roger Biermann
Images: Roarke Bouffe