Words & photos - Daniel Bevis
‘Crossover’ is a word that gets thrown around a lot these days. I prefer ‘urban on-roader’, a term employed by Rover when they launched the 25 Streetwise back in 2003 (yeah, you scoffed then, but look how well the sticking-on-some-plastic-cladding-and-raising-the-ride-height-a-bit formula is working for Audi’s Allroad sub-brand), because it’s basically meaningless. ‘Urban on-roader’ literally means ‘car’, there’s no subtext. Let’s just be honest about these things, shall we? It’s a styling exercise; a means to make an everyday car look a bit like it might be happy enough to drive over some craggy scenery and get slightly muddy.
It’s an aesthetic treatment that actually lends itself rather well to the Vauxhall Adam, manifesting itself as the sparky new Adam Rocks. No, you won’t be able to drive it up Ben Nevis, but the rough-‘n’-tumble makeover does suit the little scamp, doesn’t it?
They’ve put a decent amount of thought into the details, too – there’s a folding canvas roof that can electrically squirrel itself away in seven seconds flat, although this comes with an acknowledgement that England is not always the most appropriate place for open-top motoring… so it’s also the only car in its class to offer a heated steering wheel, along with heated seats and intelligent climate control to augment the chilly roofless mischief.
The Rocks is a pretty entertaining thing to drive. It doesn’t need the vibrant, perky motor that you’d find in the hair-raising Adam Grand Slam because it’s got a very different ethos; in this environment, the 1.0-litre 3-cylinder engine is perfectly engaging, particularly with a sweet little six-speeder to stir it with. The handling is what you’d expect – i.e. like a normal Adam, but with a bit more roll, because it’s taller – and the seats poke you in the kidneys a bit (maybe you could convince your dealer to shoehorn in a set of the Grand Slam’s sublime Recaros?), but it all adds to the car’s boisterous out-and-about lifestyle. It’s a thing for chucking across fields, beaches and grassy single-track lanes – sure, you might get stuck, but you’ll have fun doing it.