If there’s one thing 2015 will be remembered for it’ll be bizarre car names. British brands Jaguar and Bentley have both given their SUVs interesting badges this month and now Vauxhall gives us the ‘Grand Slam’ for its Adam supermini.
 
Vauxhall first debuted the sporty Adam as a concept back in March last year at the Geneva Motor Show. Badged the ‘Adam S’, the name was a clear reference to its sporty character. But since then, Vauxhall has taken the decision to rename the car, while the rest of Europe will stick with ‘Adam S’.

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The reason? The previous-generation Corsa car was available in an entry-level ‘S’ trim level in the UK so Vauxhall is anxious for its racy Adam not to be mistaken as a bog-standard special. However, while the car will be officially branded as ‘Grand Slam’, the ‘Adam S’ name will still appear on the c-pillar. Confused?

Putting the name to one side, the car’s racy demeanor that first aired at the Geneva show hasn’t been messed around with. Under the bonnet lies a breathed-on 1.4-litre petrol engine with an added turbocharger. The dinky unit pushes out 148bhp and 220Nm of torque that gives a 0-62mph sprint time of 8.2 seconds and top whack of 124mph, while combined fuel economy tops 57.6mpg and the engine emits 137g/km of CO2.
 
The punchy 1.4 turbo delivers its torque low down the rev range but quickly gets up to the red line requiring a gear change from the smooth six-speed manual box. While some Adams lower down the range get a slightly notchy-feeling manual gearbox, the Grand Slam’s is precise, but the sporty variant keeps other Adams’ cramped pedal arrangement – which is fine for heel and toeing on the race track but not much else.
 
The Grand Slam doesn’t just have a perky engine and sporty clothes, though, as underneath there’s some proper hot hatchback muscle. Grand Slams get a sports chassis and the same braking system as used in the Vauxhall Corsa VXR. While this sounds good it translates into a hard ride and brakes that seem a little unnecessarily powerful for a car with a modest 148bhp compared to the Corsa VXR’s 189bhp.

The Grand Slam’s real delight is its handling. Show the little car a corner and it darts into the apex with real verve and thanks to wide tyres, it hangs on giving lots of grip. Our test car was an Opel Grand Slam with Vauxhall badges for the photos and it had a different steering wheel set-up that self-centred too enthusiastically for our liking and gave little feedback. Vauxhall assures us it will recalibrate the steering to give more feel to suit more demanding UK buyers.
 
Using the Adam Slam as a starting point, the Grand gets a chin spoiler, darkened front headlight clusters, sportier side moldings and a large rear spoiler. The overall look is topped off with a chrome-tipped exhaust poking out of the rear bumper, massive 18-inch alloys with red brake calipers, tinted rear glass and a colour palette of 10 body shades and four roof options including ‘Red ‘n’ Roll’ - a MINI John Cooper Works-like combination that’s only available on the Grand Slam. Overall, the makeover works very well.

Inside, the sporty flavour continues with half leather seats, a leather steering wheel and aluminum pedals and luxuries like DAB radio, climate control, Bluetooth and cruise control. However, Vauxhall’s seven-inch infotainment touch-screen is optional as is sat-nav – it uses a downloaded app on the driver’s smartphone which is then mirrored on to the screen.
 
Just like every other Adam, the Grand Slam can be personalised thanks to a vast array of interior styling packs including the eye-catching red and black leather package, and figure-hugging leather Recaro sports seats for £1,040. However, just like all Adams, the Grand Slam still has poor space in the back for passengers and a tiny 170-litre boot.

Vauxhall is pricing the Adam Grand Slam at £16,995 – £2,000 less than the Corsa VXR – with a predicted sales figure of 750 a year. And when it comes to rivals, the Abarth 595 Turismo is an obvious competitor that makes do with another 10bhp and 10Nm of torque, weighs 143kg less and costs around £1,000 more. Meanwhile the entry-level Ford Fiesta ST – a hot hatch from the class above – can’t be overlooked either as for £400 extra delivers a more razor-sharp driving experience.

On this early drive, it’s clear to see the Adam Grand Slam is a strong and very likeable package, if one that’s a little too expensive. But we’ll reserve a definitive verdict for the car’s UK arrival in a couple of months.  

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