Isuzu’s Mysterious Utility Wizard (I kid you not) illustrates a peculiarly Asian ability to truly get something lost in translation, while something like the Studebaker Dictator vividly illustrates an American talent for seamlessly demonstrating crassness and insensibility in equal measure.
Us Europeans are not immune to howlers either. Audi’s adoption of the E-Tron handle for its hybrid vehicles is very unfortunate as ‘etron’ translates from French as ‘excrement,’ while Renault found to their embarrassment that the Koleos name it gave its 2007 SUV translated into ‘testicle’ in Greek.
Opel’s Ascona was a shocker for people from the Galician region of northern Spain where, in the local dialect it is the word used to describe a lady’s private parts, while Mitsubishi had to change the names of its 4x4 Pajero in Spain because it is a crude word for self-gratification in that part of the world. More recently the industry appears to have strayed away from the offensive to branch into the nonsensical. The VW Group has been responsible for the Mii (Seat) and the Up! (VW), while such as Kia has given us the Pro_cee’d and Peugeot put in its tupppence worth with such as the Bipper Teepee.
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In this light, Opel’s decision to call its new micromini the Adam, after the founder of the company Adam Opel, seemed like tasteful and sensible decision. However, when they decided to make a muscled-up version of the car, they lost all reason when they called it the Adam Rocks. I’m sure Herr Opel spun silently in his grave.
Despite this dreadful moniker, Opel has actually made a really good little car here and one which will add greatly to the increasing numbers of cars being aimed specifically at urban fashionistas who like to pimp, prime and personalise their wheels.
It is supposed to be a muscular version on the Adam with something of a 4x4 aura about it. That it will never undertake anything more arduous than maybe a stiff hill, the off-road presumption is faintly ridiculous, but the Opel designers have still seen fit to make the car look like a road rage victim.
By hitching up the suspension a tad and adding big cloth sunroof and a lot of plastic cladding to the bumpers and wheelarches, Opel has beefed-up the look of the Adam — presumably to make it Rock — and in doing so have added to the car’s potential appeal to all those outdoor types who, if we are to believe the marketeers, make up a majority of the ‘yoof’ of today.
By design or otherwise, they have actually come up with quite a striking little car which works on many levels. Primarily, it hits the button in terms of visual appeal, but the real gem - getting away from the fashion fripperies — is what’s under the hood. Under that, shapely it has to be said, bonnet nestles a one litre, three cylinder, turbocharged petrol engine which is a little diamond.
With the characteristic thrum of a three pot engine providing the aural treats, the turbocharger boosts output to a very worthy 85 kW (115 bhp) at 5,200 rpm, with some 170 Nm or torque available from 1,800 rpm and the combination of these figures will put a big smile on the face of anyone who likes a spicy drive. Throw in a 119 g/km figure (for Tax Band A4 and an annual bill of €200 and a 5.1 l/100 km (55.4 mpg) consumption rate and you’ve got premium performance written all over it.
Via a six speed manual ‘box and with motivation going through the front wheels, this Adam will rock to 100 kph in under 10 seconds and record a top speed of 196 kph — figures which are very laudable, but sometimes in a small car can lead to dire handling traits.
Not so here, where the wheel-at-each-corner demeanour gives you a karty handling feel and with the rear track being slightly wider than on the standard Adam, cornering feel and grip levels are impressive. The fact that dampers, springs, shocks and roll bars have been revisited by comparison with the standard car, adds greatly to the experience for keen drivers, although it has to be said this is not the car’s raison d’être.
Opel insist that its low and mid-range torque levels are more important for a majority of drivers and in many ways they are right. You do not have to work the gearbox hard to be in the right cog all the time as the torque available will allow you overcome most road conditions without having to break sweat.
Despite the aural treat of the three cylinder engine, the cloth hood does allow a lot of intrusive noise into the cabin, but this is a minor quibble as the cabin itself and the overall interior layout is particularly good and certainly among the best designs Opel has come up with in recent memory.
It is quite the sophisticated little number in terms of spec, what with leather steering wheel, 17” alloys, Bluetooth, LED daytime front and rear lights, air con, cruise control, DAB radio and a CD player with USB and aux-in facilities as standard. Another €1,800 saw auto lights and wipers added, along with two coat pearlescent pain, carbon effect mirrors, Opel Intellink infotainment system, rear parking sensors and heated seats and steering wheel.
In many ways the Adam Rocks is something of a sheep in wolf’s clothing, particularly as a city dweller dressed in mountaineering gear, but the engine is a definite star and adds greatly to what might otherwise be a slack package. Indeed the combination of its characteristics make this a good car with a brilliant engine and nothing more or less.
Even so, that stupid name still rankles - with me anyway. Nevertheless it did bring me back to a famous TV ad of long ago involving a cure for cattle mastitis. “Cheno Unction,” the tag line went “a quare name, but great stuff.”
The Cost: €18,995 - €22,865 as tested.
The Engine: very definitely the star of the show here.
The Specifications: decent standard kit, but going upmarket can be pricy.
Overall Verdict: The Adam rocks, so it does.
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