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The small-car market has been growing in South Africa and worldwide at a remarkable rate.
This is driven by fuel-price inflation and the fact that the demand for large family sedan vehicles is declining as family sizes shrink.
Along with this has come a trend of small, customised vehicles, the desire for personalisation and individual styling, as well as retro-design-type vehicles.
Models such as the Mini, Fiat 500, and the Audi A1 have driven the growth.
VW and Opel are rather late comers to this market with the launch of the Opel Adam and the VW UP. The Opel Adam has however taken this trend to another level with the Adam, aptly named after the founder of Opel.
Adam Opel initially started a sewing machine manufacturing company in the mid 1800s.
Opel later expanded into bicycle manufacturing and automobiles.
They were known for their stylish and innovative bicycles that were trend setters, helping them capture a large share of the very lucrative bicycle market in Germany and Europe at the time.
The Adam comes in three versions: the Adam 1.4 base model, the Adam Jam 1.0 turbo and the top-of-the-range Adam Glam 1.0 turbo that has every conceivable modern vehicle add-on, including a full multimedia system called “intellilink”.
This has a 17cm colour display and enable complete link up with smartphone technology.
It includes an app called Stitcher that automatically streams the latest episodes of your favourite podcasts and radio shows that you can stitch together to create customised shows.
Other Apps are tuneIn that provides live digital radio from over 70 000 radio stations and Opel's BringGo that gives you full Sat Nav functionality through your smartphone.
Our test vehicle was the base Adam 1.4 model that retails at R189 900.
Although looking at the list of features “base model" is an awkward description to give, as it is extensive and includes remarkable features such a speed-sensitive power steering that adjusts to the conditions being driven.
Other features are city mode steering and heated and foldable side mirrors.
While it does not have the top-of-the-range multimedia system, it does have USB port, Bluetooth and Aux input.
The 1.4 has a string of safety features including daytime running lights, six air bags, tyre deflation detection system, ABS, EBD and an electronic stability program (ESP).
Driving the two-door compact hatch was a pleasure, with the Opel engine providing 74kw of power and a decent 130Nm of torque. It gets the car up to speed quickly and provides rapid acceleration when required.
The hatch responded well in cornering, thanks to the ESP, and braking was sharp and effective.
The vehicle also has hill-start assist that provides decent pull-off on inclines.
The big selling point for the Adam range, however, has to be the incredible range of customisation options.
The car owner who is looking to stand out has so many to choose from, it may take a while to figure out what they want.
You can choose from nine different colours with a black or white roof option to create a two-tone effect.
A range of different mag wheels is on the menu and you can also buy a custom pack that includes colour-coded clips for the wheels.
The front logo bar, side mirrors and even the rear-view mirror is also customisable and there are decal options for the bonnet, roof and side doors.
This will be to the liking of the younger market and, no doubt about it, the vehicle is a head-turner.
While driving around Grahamstown, the Adam got a lot of attention with its slick styling and customised look.
The interior is well-finished and stylish, with cloth seats.
The Adam is certainly priced well for the features and options and comes standard with a five-year/ 120 000km warranty and roadside assistance, and a three-year/ 60 000km service plan.
Fuel consumption is a claimed 5.3lt / 100km and service intervals are 12 months or 15 000km.
I am pretty confident with the options provided and the features available that we will see many Adams in the land where cars are our passion.