For the Love of the Drive

OPEL

The Opel Adam

Having driven German, Italian and even British sports cars none had gotten as much attention as the new Opel Adam. Driving it, we often caught wandering eyes and on more than one occasion had to roll the window down to tell inquisitive motorists what it was we were driving. What exactly makes the Adam so appealing? We explore this hot city hatch to try and figure it out…

The first thing is definitely the Adam’s insanely unique design. It’s small and funky with eccentric elements that add to the overall oddness of the car. Opel say that the Adam is a game changer with endless possibilities available to buyers that allow them to personalise the car more than ever before. The best part of it all is that you can change it up a couple of years down the line if you get over your initial taste. You can literally change the wheels, interior, front logo bar, side mirrors and believe it or not, even the back of the rear view mirror inside the Adam.

The model we tested, the Adam 1.4, was purple and all the edges and trimmings were offset in a grey to give it a striking profile on the road. Inside the Adam, everything is perfectly laid out to suit the modern lifestyle of a 21st century hipster. To try and list all the ‘out-of-the-box’ features the Adam boasts would require more words than could fit on these pages. Although we must highlight the infotainment system, with Bluetooth, MP3 and USB connectivity your whole world is at your fingertips. The Adam comes in several versions, the one we tested and the GLAM and JAM versions too. The GLAM models come standard with either a Sunroof or the 64 Starz Headliner which features 64 LED lights, creating a totally unexpected outdoor effect that can be switched on and off, or even dimmed via a roof mounted button.

All that extra funk, would mean little if the Adam didn’t drive well. But, the 1.4 we tested produced 74 kW of power and 130 N m of torque. This little pocket rocket has no trouble darting in and out of city traffic and nips you around town with gusto. The JAM and GLAM versions have nippy little one litre turbo changed three cylinder engines that actually give you a bit more power than the 1.4 we tested.

"This little pocket rocket has no trouble darting in and out of city traffic and nips you around town with gusto."

Overall we think the fascination with the Opel Adam is partly due to the fact that it stands out from the crowd so much and it looks like a car everyone can afford, yet still gives you that unique edge everybody craves. Although, starting from R189 900 upwards, it is a bit pricier than looks would leave you to believe. Yes it may be expensive when you look at it on face value, but this little driving dynamo proves that a little more money does actually buy you happiness.

The Opel Astra OPC

Unlike the little Adam, the Astra OPC is no wolf in sheep’s clothing. In fact, it is a beast and may just be one of the coolest cars we have ever had the fun of testing. This car is pure joy to drive and although we did attempt to contemplate its practicality, we realised that sometimes the love of driving alone takes precedent over which car you drive and why.

Opel say the Astra OPC is an expression of passion for power and speed, and we couldn’t agree more! The 2.0 l turbo engine pumps out a whopping 206 kWs of power. And when you couple that with the 400 N m of torque, you have a car that wants to get you somewhere in a hurry, but also wants you to enjoy the journey. The OPC’s suspension has vastly improved on the versions we have tested in the past and is in fact one of the best suspension systems we have tested in a while. The four wheel drive system gives you certainty and confidence around corners, which is important when you have that much car at your disposal. The turbo-charged engine has a claimed top speed of 250 km/h, and although we never got anywhere close to that, it is exciting to drive.

The OPC is supposed to get you from stand still to 100 km/h in six seconds, in optimal conditions. Whatever the actual road acceleration is, when the OPC got going it gave us goose bumps.

If we forget the brutish good looks, hard racing lines and incredible performance, the Astra is also a great car to use day to day. The interior is well laid out with all your regular requirements available at your fingertips. Things like Bluetooth and USB connectivity, as well as dual zone air conditioning are standard in most cars in this segment nowadays, but it was the OPC Power App we loved the most! The App serves as an interface between your car and your Apple iPhone and iPad that allows you to visualize, record and analyze your vehicle data. In a performance based car, this is one of the coolest gimmicks we have ever played with.

The Astra OPC is a touch under half a million rand, which in most circles is a lot to pay for a hatchback. But when we compared the numbers and prices to its competitors, including other German, some Japanese, a few French and an American model or two, the Astra OPC came out top of the pile. Play around and test the lot, you’ll be as surprised as we were when you give the Astra a spin.