DRIVING IMPRESSION: Opel Adam 1.0T EcoFLEX Rocks

BY CHARL BOSCH - DECEMBER 24, 2015

“Chic” and “masculine” are two terms seldom used to describe well… frankly anything as it is highly unlikely that you would lay eyes on an object or item that combines both in one shot.

Lunched in January to significant acclaim, the Opel Adam has gone on to become one of the most popular offerings in the so-called boutique hatchback segment, where a trendy appearance matched with the latest in on-board gadgetry, outweighs absolute power and the need to go from 0-100 km/h in 5.0 secs flat.

With an average of 120 units having found new homes over the last eleven months, the Adam, a model the Russelheim-based firm somewhat cheekily described as being “anti-retro” has also taken one step further in establish Opel as parent company General Motors’ premium brand in South Africa.

In spite of having succeeded in becoming the trendiest of the boutique offerings available, the Adam took an interesting step in early November with the inclusion of a special edition model that combines the funky and stylish appeal of the standard car, with the added macho-ness and appearance of an off-roader.

Based on the range topping Glam and limited to only 150 units, the initial description of the new Adam Rocks might sound like a disaster waiting to happen, but turned out to be quite surprising when the keys of a pearl white, Saturday White Fever in Opel speak, example ended up in my hands earlier this month.

Essentially a cosmetic overhaul, external enhancement to the Rocks include a 15 mm gain in overall ride height, black bumpers and cladding around the wheel arches, front and rear satin silver skidplates, chrome finishes around the lights, upper door lining and on the logo bar, and those mean looking light grey 18-inch Twister alloy wheels.

Indeed a departure from the Adam’s usual cutesy appearance, the Rocks wants to be taken more seriously with Opel even describing it as a mini Cross Utility Vehicle (CUV). Odd this might sound, but there is no denying the fact that it stands out from what this segment has become known for.

The sense of uniqueness, minus the off-road touches, becomes more prevalent when you step inside. Apart from the drilled alloy pedals, the Rocks also features what Opel calls the “Starz” pattern finish on the dashboard, as well as an electric sliding canvas roof.

Finishing the added extras off, the Rocks also sports a premium six-speaker Infinity sound system and Opel’s now familiar Intellilink media interface controlled via a seven-inch touchscreen display.

As with the standard Adam, the added garnish has had little effect on the Rocks’ interior fit-and-finish, which continues to rate as one of the best on the market today. With classy soft touch plastics on the dash and black piano-key finish around the infotainment display, the Rocks feels expensive with the mood also being lifted thanks to the aforementioned roof.

At the opposite end, the front seats, finished in a combination of Alcantara and leather, are especially comfortable, while the rake/reach adjustable steering wheel makes getting comfy even easier.

Standard comfort items are generous and includes climate control, cruise control, auto lock/unlock doors, electric windows, Blind Sport Assist, Bluetooth audio streaming with Aux and USB input, electric mirrors, auto on/off headlights, Hill Start Assist, six airbags, traction control, ABS with EBD and BAS.

Mechanically, the Rocks remains unchanged from the regular Adam and while a lot has already been said about the punchy 1.0-litre three cylinder turbocharged Ecotec engine, it continues to rate as one of the best small capacity forced induction powerplants on sale today.

Fitted with dual balancer shafts and producing 85 kW and 170 N.m of torque, the engine is devoid of the usual three cylinder thrum and feels strong low down, with the turbo surge becoming a flood as you get past 3 000 rpm.

Mated to a slick shifting six-speed manual gearbox, the engine performed admirably when the Rocks had to exchange its comfort zone of the city, for a trip up the R72 to East London, days before its weeklong tenure came to end.

Despite the start/stop system having been switched off and the air-conditioning called upon regularly, the Rocks’ trip computer still registered an impressive 6.0 L/100 km, before falling back to 6.1 L/100 km once back in daily commuter role.

Although its blend of tough off-roader and city sleeker appearance might divide opinions on first glance, the Opel Adam Rocks has to be applauded for breaking new grounds in a segment where standing out is everything. While exclusivity is guaranteed, it might also have just set the template for the creation of another niche within a segment.

 

SPECIFICATIONS:

ENGINE LAYOUT DOHC 12v Inline 3 Turbo
DISPLACEMENT 999 cc
MAX POWER 85 kW @5000-6000 rpm
MAX TORQUE 170 N.m @1800-4500 rpm
DRIVE LAYOUT Front engine; Front-wheel drive
TRANSMISSION Six-speed manual
ACCELERATION [0-100 KM/H] 9.9 secs
TOP SPEED 196 km/h
FUEL CONSUMPTION 6.0 L/100 km
EMISSIONS 115 g/km