Launch Drive: Opel Adam S (2016) 1.4 Turbo

The Aldo Scribante race track in Port Elizabeth has played host to numerous car launches over the years and most recently to the all-new Opel Adam S. Unleashing their new car on the track proves just how confident Opel is in not only the car’s handling abilities but also the reliability during a sultry coastal day.


Since the Opel Adam came to market in 2015 it has been a hit amongst buyers accounting for the majority of sales against established competitors like Audi A1, Fiat 500 Abarth and Mini Cooper hatch. What counted in the Adam’s favour was an ougat (cute) design, superb lively engine and funky personality – traits now ratcheted up a few notches for the Opel Adam S.

For starters, three distinctive colour combos are on offer: Saturday White Fever and Shiny Rock – both equipped with a contrasting red roof and pillars – while the third colour, Red ‘n’ Roll, has grey shading as opposed to the red. No visual appeal would be complete without a proper set of wheels and the Opel Adam S sports light-weight 18-inch ‘Propeller’ alloys that house very visible red brake callipers.


Compared to the standard Adam, the S boasts a stubby rear wing which adds an additional 100 Newtons of rear downforce and rivets s that nippy Opel Adam S to the apexes. The front spoiler will, to an extent, mitigate understeer and maintain some aerodynamic balance.

Yet with a bulging rubber to chassis ratio, the hot Adam very rarely breaks traction. The Adam S has the same wheelbase of 2 311 mm as the base Adam, but a more rigid torsion beam rear axle and uprated springs really do sharpen the handling. It also grips with more verve thanks to increased track widths of 1 472 mm and 1 464 mm at the front and rear, respectively.


With a top speed of 210 km/h and 0-100 km/h time of 8.5 seconds, the Opel Adam S moves away from Opel’s 1.0-litre 3-cylinder turbo to the bigger 1.4-litre 4-cylinder – the same engine fitted to the Corsa Sport. Opel says that although the Adam S is the sprinter in the Adam range, drivers can still manage a fuel return of 5,9 L/100 km.

Truthfully the track made it hard to pinpoint the car’s true real-world pace because the scenery is devoid of any markers rushing by in a blur but it seems to fizz along nicely although to a somewhat disappointing engine note. Developing 110kW and 220Nm I found myself not wanting to come back into the pits; growing more addicted to what the car offers and confident in my own abilities.


General Motors SA allowed journalists to really go for it around Aldo in the company of Opel’s former Superboss racing drivers. Lap after lap the vehicles took an unholy pounding without missing a beat – never troubled or out of its comfort zone. The power figures match what the chassis has to offer and because the latter is so good there is definitely room for more. Maybe something like an OPC?

During one of my warm-up stints I deactivated the Electronic Stability Programme (which replaces the button usually reserved for Opel’s City Mode.) The ESP system is unobtrusive but even with it off the Opel Adam S is on its best behaviour and mops up any driver mistakes with calm and neutral communication.


Inside the racing theme continues the moment you climb into the car. Recaro sport seats are the best fitted to any small car and offer ample support for almost every bodytype.The six-speed manual ‘box has a short and direct throw-action – finally an Opel gearbox you can shift aggressively, particularly first to second.

At this point production of the Adam S has been capped at 50 units but more models could follow once the demand has been analysed and the exchange rate settles down. What you get for your R330 000 is a car that teaches you the basics of driving quickly, looks the part and won’t land you in a heap of trouble. Not the feistiest or fastest small hatch around but modern and bristling with technology.


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