Back in the mainstream seat

I’ve loved the Opel Adam since it was first revealed a few years ago. This is strange, because, for the most part, I’m not really interested in mainstream cars.

The only two I really care for are the Adam and the Volvo V60 Estate Polestar. The Volvo won’t be coming to SA and I could never justify having a go in the Adam, because it’s not a Leisure Wheels kind of car.

Then they launch the crossover version called “Rocks,” which finally gave me the excuse I needed to phone GM and ask if I could drive one.

It arrived last week sporting various colours. Early in the morning it appears to be yellow, but by the time the sun is setting, it’s green. Nice touch.

Unfortunately, the mocking started immediately. The other two had a G63 AMG and a Suzuki Jimny, both proper off-roaders. The best the Rocks can cope with is a patch of sand washed onto the road after a rainstorm. It can’t even crawl up a pavement.

No matter, I thought. If the various road tests are to be believed, it’s going to be an epic little lukewarm hatch I can pitch into corners, if only to remind myself how much fun that used to be. It has been a while since I last drove a hot hatch and I was looking forward to it again. The only other option was the new VW Caddy Alltrack, but the idea of spending a weekend with a fun, funky hatch proved to be too alluring, so I went for speed over practicality and efficiency.

With AC/DC gunning through the windows, I set off from the office, the long way round.

I was not disappointed. The driving experience was superb, so much so that I constantly had to remind myself that I could push a little harder than you can in a performance SUV. This little so-called SUV could brake later, turn in harder and get my squeal on. The engine proved willing as well. It’s tiny, but it’s turbocharged and it makes all the right noises. It’s so good in fact, that I’m willing to put my head on the chopping block and state that it’s the best small capacity turbocharged engine I’ve driven to date.

That drive home was sensational, but as soon as I drove through the gates, I had returned to the real world, with it’s real responsibilities. It also happened to be the same weekend my little man turned two, which meant there was a lot of cargo to carry around.

First stop was at the local supermarket, where I had to buy a boatload of supplies for around 30 people. With my shopping mission successfully completed, I opened the boot to find a small space large enough to house exactly five bottles of milk, twelve buns and six cokes. Seriously, the boot is laughably small. The Adam is definitely a second car, because there’s no chance you can fit enough luggage for a weekend away, unless you happen to be a nudist.

This annoyed me so much, that the Adam was left standing for most of the weekend. I rather used my own Picanto, because that at least has space for an additional two bottle of coke.

My wife eventually pointed out that I was now older and that my wants and needs had moved on. A great blast on an open road is magnificent, but what I want most of all these days is a smooth ride and enough space for my wife, son and all of the bazillion things I have to ferry around whenever he’s in the car with me. Speed isn’t even secondary anymore; in fact, I doubt it’s even in my top ten list of things I want in a car.

On Monday I took the long way round in, and once again the Adam Rocks was amazing. I turned a dreary commute into an enjoyable experience. I hammered it down a few off-ramps and purposefully left the radio off so I could enjoy the noise from its little engine.

I am, however, glad that a new Fortuner is coming today. In terms of smiles it won’t get anywhere close to what the Adam did, but at least I can do all of my weekly shopping in one go.

If I was still 25, I’d definitely have one over a Mini, but I’m not 25 anymore and so my requirements have changed. If you’re 25 and single and don’t eat all that much, you should go have a look at one of these.

Also, it’s such a cool car. Suddenly Opel is cool again, which bodes well for the new Astra, which I’m told is arriving in SA soon. It’s won all sorts of international awards already, so I’m guessing it has more than enough space for us guys who have loads of stuff to carry around.

Let’s hope they build a crossover version of that as well, because I find it really interesting and I want to have a go in it.

Text: Gerhard Horn