This isn't my first time behind the wheel of an Opel ADAM, and I hope it's not my last. My first stint was in an ADAM Jam, a funky little thing with loads of character. Named after the man credited with starting the whole Opel brand, Adam Opel, and it's a fitting tribute to his memory. Someone mentioned to me that they should have rather named something a little beefier and meaner after him, something more motorsport-inspired. I'm not quite sure why that is because the Jam, while fitted with a small 998cc, 3-cylinder motor, is turbocharged and has 85kW on tap. Yeah, yeah, I know that anything performance related needs to have power in at least the triple digit figures, but that 85kW in that small hatchback makes for some really entertaining driving. But I'm not here to tell you about the Jam, this is all about the S, the sportier, beefier, more powerful big brother. This version is pretty much the ADAM you'd expect to find an OPC badge on.
Changes to the S that make it unique start with the exterior. Up front and lower down, there's a lip spoiler added in that gives a little contrast to the colour of the bodywork, not just on the white car but it's obviously more noticeable on this one. Around the side it looks to have put on a little weight thanks to a different design in the sill mouldings, but to make it look in proportion there's now 18-inch wheels in play. The ADAM S reminds you of one of those fighting dogs, lower, wider and ready to bite. At the rear the bumper has been slightly extended, again to keep the proportions looking right, but the best addition is that roof spoiler. It has just the right design and size, and for me it completes the ADAM's profile. All of them should have this wing. The easiest way to tell if you can see an ADAM in the distance is the red roof and A-pillars, but it's not a certainty because the rest of the ADAM range can be customised quite a bit, so you may come across a Jam or Glam with a red roof too.
Inside the ADAM S there are some small changes to make it known that the model is different. First off you notice the stripe with an S on the dash, the S is also found on the gauge cluster. Actually this is the only thing I don't like inside the cabin. It's not that I don't like the S itself, it's the font used that reminds me of the Supersport logo, but that's just me being weird. The steering wheel is two-tone in the model I had, red and black, and the gear knob matches, as does the handbrake lever. The sports pedals are expected, but what's not expected, and is by far the coolest change inside the ADAM is the Recaro sports seats. Proper high side bolsters keep your ass in place when you're chucking the ADAM around bends. Notice I say when, and not if, because you WILL start to throw this car around like a redheaded (roofed) step child! The Intellilink system and all the electronics and safety systems are also still there, as you'd expect from Opel.
As I mentioned, the 1.0 turbo Jam is a fun little thing. With the S that fun factor is multiplied by at least ten. This small hatchback gets a turbocharged 1.4-litre lump that makes 110kW with 220Nm, making for great power to weight. Opel says the ADAM S gets from 0-100km/h in 8.5-seconds, which isn't slow by any means, although my butt dyno argues that figure, it feels quicker than that. I guess that's another good thing, as long as the feeling is there, the smile cramps will start. One the con end of that, the fuel doesn't last long because you can't drive the car without hoofing if at every chance you get. With more power comes the need for better brakes, and the shiny red calipers seen on the S clamp down on bigger discs, it's basically an older model Corsa OPC braking setup. If you're going to jump on the brakes, be prepared for some serious clamping power, it can stop on a dime, or a R50 note or whatever the exchange rate is at now. The chuckability is better thanks to reworked suspension, it's a little lower and a little tighter with improved spring rates. I thought this may make the drive a little harsh, especially combined with low profile 18s, but it's not. The little S stayed perfectly composed on a corrugated bend I often take, but on the smooth roads the little car coaxes you into pushing it harder and harder. The steering feedback is perfect and you know exactly where the car is going at all times - where you point it. Much like!
Now the downside - sort of. There's only 50 of these in SA. Sure you could spec another ADAM to look like this, but it won't have the same power or handling. With such limited numbers you can be sure to pay a premium for the car, and you will. This little thing will set you back R330 000. That's a lot, but you'll probably never see another one on the road. I like that idea, being different is something I quite like. You will get a 5-year/120 000km warranty along with a 3-year/60 000km service plan for that money too.
I drove it for a week, this "performance city car," but could easily have one as my daily, if banks financed freelancers that is. I think the Opel guys need to keep this last one for shows and events; tune it a little more, customise it some more here and there and then take it to all the big aftermarket shows in SA, people will love this thing!
For more info, head on over to the Opel website...