Adam: a first from Opel/Vauxhall

  • 08-Oct-2012 01:22 EDT
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Destined only for Europe, the Opel/Vauxhall Adam is the company's first three-door A-segment model. (Newspress)

Adam was the only car on show on the Opel booth at the 2012 Paris Motor Show, despite rumors that the Astra-based Cascada convertible was due to make its debut too. The Adam solo act signifies the importance of the company’s first entry into the European three-door hatchback A-segment, competing with models such as the Fiat 500 and Ford Ka.

General Motors’ stylish new small car will initially be built using an existing GM 1.2-L gasoline engine, but this will be joined by a new family of direct-injection turbocharged gasoline engines jointly developed with SAIC of China and due for introduction in 2013.

The car sits on a wheelbase of 2311 mm (91.0 in), with tracks measuring 1485 mm (58.5 in) for the front axle and 1478 mm (58.2 in) for the rear. According to GM, the platform is not related to the new Corsa at all. Suspension is by MacPherson strut at the front and torsion beam compound crank at the rear.

The car will be built exclusively at Eisenach in Germany, and there are no plans for sales outside European and existing Opel markets. It will only appear in three-door fixed head form, ruling out convertible and five-door variants.

Launching into this highly competitive European segment has brought design to center stage for the car. AEI asked Malcolm Ward, Vice President Design for Opel and Vauxhall, about the car’s design objectives: “For us, it was really important to create a product that addressed the concept of individualization without being a retro product. When you look at cars that are in that segment now, they achieve it through their retro connections. It was really important that this was a modern, looking-forward-to-the-future individual product; that was the key for us.”

Ward highlighted the car’s proportions: “It’s low, it’s short, and it’s very wide, which is quite unusual in this segment. Secondly, the way we created the ‘floating’ roof is really one of the enablers to get these great color combinations at a very cost efficient price. When we started the program, it was really important that we created a car that supports the concept of individualization, and we defined exactly what that was. We had to do that so that the business case was set up that way and also that the manufacturing plants could actually achieve it. So it was a prerequisite right from the beginning that the roof had to be separated visually from the rest of the body.

“That led to certain technical solutions in the C-pillar and the bottom of the A-pillar that were not particularly easy for our engineers to do, but they understood from day one that this was a key element in the whole concept.”

“It’s got a very sporty feel to it while at the same time, it still looks very friendly, and that’s the other aspect which we’re also very proud of.”

Among the individualization ideas are color clips—wheel trims for the 18-inch alloy wheels that can be changed for others of a different color—and items such as the “Twisted” pack—decals that can be applied to the body and changed to suit the owner.

Inside, the car features the optional IntelliLink infotainment system, centered around a 7-inch, high-resolution touch screen. The system is designed to integrate Android and Apple iOS based smartphones into the system, permitting selected “apps” such as music streaming, phone books, and navigation to be used with the system and controlled from the touch screen.

Interchangeable foils mean that the color of the dashboard, for instance, can be changed to suit the owner. Equally there is a range of different interior roof options. A glass roof is one, but as Ward explained, there are others: “You can also have a non-glass sunroof with printed head linings. For example, we have one that has a chequered flag, there’s another one with cloud skies.” Or buyers can choose a roof lining with 63 LEDs embedded to give a “Sky at Night” design. “It’s all about creating environments and atmospheres inside the car.

“Another thing that we have is a choice of ambient light. Up to now we’ve only had red, but at the touch of a button, you have the choice of seven different colors.”

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