Sales of upmarket small cars are booming, and Vauxhall is hoping to cash in on this success with a revised version of its fashionableAdam. On the surface the compact model looks unchanged, but beneath the endlessly customisable skin is a new 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine that promises class-leading refinement, performance and fuel efficiency.
The turbo has a healthy 113bhp and is hooked up to a six-speed box for even greater response and economy. It’s available in all trim levels, from the £13,455 Jam to the £15,350 Slam tested here.
Yet the Adam isn’t the only upmarket baby to undergo heart surgery, as the recently revised DS 3 has been fitted with PSA Peugeot Citroen’s new 1.2 PureTech turbo.
It’s not as powerful as the Vauxhall, but it has similar performance and even lower CO2 emissions. Which downsized supermini style icon wins here?
Click the links above to read full individual reviews, and scroll down to see which stylish supermini comes out on top...
Both cars have adopted small-capacity three-cylinder turbos to boost power and efficiency. Despite being the smaller one, the Adam’s direct-injection 1.0-litre delivers 113bhp and has a balancer shaft to boost refinement and smoothness. The DS 3’s larger 1.2-litre unit isn’t as powerful or refined, but it has 35Nm more torque than the Vauxhall, at 205Nm. It also emits only 107g/km and meets the new, tougher Euro VI emissions regs.
If you like to express yourself on the road, look no further than this pair. The DS 3 is available with contrasting roof colours, bodywork decals and bigger alloy wheels. It’s a similar story with the Adam, with the novel difference that you can change many trim inserts.
The DS 3’s available with Citroen’s trademark scented air-freshener, which plugs into the dashboard and feeds perfumed fragrances into the ventilation system. Keen cyclists will love the Adam’s £600 Flex-Fix integrated bike rack that pulls out from a compartment behind the rear bumper.
Despite boasting similar engines, prices and upmarket aspirations, these two contenders are quite different. The DS 3 can’t match the Adam’s impressive refinement and classy cabin, but it’s more fun to drive, provides greater practicality and costs less to run. If you can live with its slightly more raucous and energetic character, then this stylish and entertaining car makes the better buy.
The addition of the new 1.0-litre turbo has revived the Adam’s fortunes. It now rivals more expensive premium cars for mechanical refinement, while its well finished cabin looks and feels a cut above the DS 3’s. There’s also massive personalisation potential, plus it’s attractively priced and well equipped. Yet it’s hard to ignore the cramped cabin, lacklustre handling and higher running costs.
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