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Review: Opel's cute Adam Rocks the boat

2016-05-16 09:00

OPEL'S ADAM ROCKS: Opel has added a limited edition Rocks to its local Adam range in SA. While it's a treat to drive, it's only a car for two. Image: Quickpic

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2015 Opel Adam Rocks

2015-11-11 08:15

Opel has launched the new Adam Rocks just a year after the Adam made its debut in South Africa.

Janine Van der Post

Cape Town - Opel has a rich heritage of producing reliable cars for the people, for many generations. Think Opel 'Superboss' Kadetts or even the Astra for that matter. And then came the li'l Corsa.

Since then these models have evolved extensively, and its current range has something to suit many needs. 

Opel launched its latest supermini, the Adam, in 2014. This trendy little city car arrived in SA in the bizarrely-named Jam and Glam derivatives. The Adam Rocks, a sportier version, was launched late in 2015.

While the Rocks is a surprisingly feisty little run-around, it suffers from one or two frown-inducing problems... but more on those later in this article.

Under the bonnet

Do you know the story of 'The Little Engine That Could' by Watty Pipe? Well, the Rocks reminds me of that hard-working little machine. Beneath the hood is a nifty three-cylinder 1.0-litre turbo petrol unit, good for 85kW/170Nm, mated to a six-speed manual transmission. It just wants to drive full steam ahead.

Opel claims fuel consumption is rated at 5.0 litres/100km with emissions of 115g/km though in practice I achieved about 6.3-litres to 7 litres/100km with moderate driving. 


What's it like to drive?

The Adam Rocks has more zest for life than its Jam and Glam siblings. The petrol turbo enables spirited(ish) driving, rather surprising given its low performance figures.

Its suspension (McPherson Strut at the front, and a torsion bar at the rear) provides agile road-holding and is adequate in corners though body-roll is front of mind.

The Adam Rocks wants to move; it's eager to pull away from standstill and happily buzzes along highways. And it's in its element navigating the tight confines of city streets.

It's compact size and responsive steering makes parking a breeze. And, it's even good for minor off-road driving. It calmly cruises along gravel roads just as easily as it would on tarred surfaces in the Swartland region of the Western Cape. 

The Rocks really is a pleasure to drive, and if you're a single, a young person, or a modern couple (read: not much room is needed), this car makes for an awesome city-car or road trip companion.

If your family includes a little sprog or two, the Adam Rocks might not be for you.

The issue of space

I'm the type of driver who needs loads of storage compartments, a big luggage area and legroom for my tall husband - especially when he needs to sit in the rear seat with our little one. Catering for my offspring's needs isn't the only reason I need a spacious vehicle. Even couples or single folk need to perform a grocery run or transport a friend and/or family members on occasion. Trying to perform any of the tasks mentioned above is extremely difficult.

Attempting to fit two backpacks into the boot for a daily trip to work would result in a battle for space. The bags, standard laptop backpacks, could not even stand-up straight or tilted in the boot. They needed to be placed strategically, flat on their respective sides. Did I mention that the two pieces of aforementioned luggage consumed ALL the boot space?

What? No spare???

Then there was the unfortunate stone incident while I was travelling home on a Friday afternoon in peak-afternoon traffic - another car had driven over a rock and it shot beneath the Adam I was driving. Imagine my dilemma, driving along Cape Town's dreaded N2 and the tyre pressure monitor system (thank goodness for that bit of kit) warned that the left rear tyre's pressure was deflating like a ticking time bomb. Eeek!

I try and tell myself, "Relax, it can't be that bad" but lowering the driver's window I could hear the menacing sound of a wheezing air balloon and that familiar tick-tack sound of loose rubber on the asphalt. Yep, it's a puncture. 

Thank the driving gods that my baby was not in the car with me or that I was not on my way to family up north travelling on a quiet, back road. However, I was forced to turn off the notoriously clogged Borcherd's Quarry Road near Cape Town International Airport.

I stopped at a petrol station and the chaps said, 'Sorry, we don't deal with punctures here'. Luckily I knew the area and could find my way to a dodgy fix-it tyre shop (of sorts) in a nearby suburb. 

'Yes, we can fix it for 20 bucks (R20)', I was told. I said cool, "the spare's in the boot".

Well, since there was no legroom in the rear, and no boot space, there had to be a spare wheel or 'marie-biscuit' somewhere, right?

I walked round the back of the car, lifted the cover in the boot only to find a tyre jack, a tool and what looked like some kind of plastic bottle/pump - I'm still not sure what I'm supposed to do with it. 

No spare. No run-flat tyres. Not even those little puncture-fix spray cans. To make matters worse, the tyre was slit along the inner tyre wall so even if it could be fixed, it was a huge risk driving any further. The shop boys worked their magic and I was able to drive the 40km to my home. That kind of stress and safety risk is uncalled for in a modern car retailing from R287 000. 

The lack of space can be forgiven since it's not aimed at families. Bizarrely, other Adam variants are equipped with spares below the car, so why not this one?

According to an Opel dealer, the Rocks only comes with a 'puncture repair kit' because the car is available with an optional premium Infinity sound system which takes up the space in the rear. I would much rather have a spare wheel than good sound for the sake of safety and convenience. Perhaps something to rethink, Opel SA?

Would I buy one? 

Yes, if I was seeking a super-cute city car and, more importantly, if I was single. With a price-tag leaning towards R300 000, the little Adam Rocks faces off against Fiat's 500CAudi A1 and Mini Cooper Convertible

Our colleague within the 24.com stable, Jill Petersen, owns an Opel Adam. She shares her thoughts on owning her car...

Petersen says: "When I saw the car I knew wanted it because it's so cute. It has that whole 'girly' factor. Besides the fact that it's nippy, it also comes packed with standard features you would usually have to pay extra for in other cars.

"When I go on roadtrips, I accept that it's more like two-seater car since and use rear seats for luggage space since the boot is ridiculously small!

"The only thing I am worried about my car is what am I going to do in the event of a puncture. At least my car has a marie-biscuit spare but it's attached beneath the car and I have no idea how to get it down from there."


Read more on:    janine van der post  |  review

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