Posted by Chris Martin 20 June 2014
Vauxhall Adam review: The car which can park itself
The Vauxhall Adam is the firm's latest small car and can be packed full of handy tech if you want it to. I've been driving it around testing these features out so here's what I think. See also: Renault R-Link review: a connected infotainment system with a few niggles.
City mode is standard on all the Adam models and helps when you're driving around town or doing manoeuvres. Hitting the button makes the steering as light as a feather which makes things that little bit easier – less effort is always a good thing.
I'm pretty confident when it comes to parking a car, but anyone who isn't will want to look into the optional extras available here. You can get regular distance sensors for £275 but it's worth paying the extra for Advanced Park Assist which is £450 and includes those sensors. See also: Ford Sync review.
For your extra money the car can park itself! It's a futuristic feature which we didn't really expect to find on a small and relatively cheap car. Using ultrasonic sensors, the Adam can find bay and parallel parking spaces and navigate you into them. You just have to control the gears and pedals while the steering is done for you. It's both a bizarre and extremely cool experience.
It works pretty well but isn't flawless. The on-screen instructions are clear but the Adam can only provide assistance if the space is between two cars and even then, it didn't always manage to spot a suitable place. The responsibility is still on the driver and I did have to interject once when the Adam got way to close to another car when reversing.
A cool bonus is that the £450 package comes with 'blind spot detection' which does exactly what you would expect – tells you when another vehicle is in your blind spot so you know not to change lanes. I found it worked really well and will benefit any driver. An orange LED in the corner of each wing mirror lights up when a car is in your blind spot and only didn't flash up when I passed cars quickly. I.e. they weren't in my blind spot for very long.
The other optional tech upgrade is the IntelliLink infotainment system which adds a 7in touchscreen to the dash for just £275. The system is easy to use (without reading an instruction manual) although the resistive display isn't always responsive.
It's a little bit gutting that adding the IntelliLink means no regular CD player, but you can hook up smartphones (iPhone and Android) over Bluetooth but there's also an axillary input and USB port. Once wirelessly connected you can play music stored on your device, although you can't browse and select what you want on the car's display. This only works if you plug in USB storage. However, you can browse your phonebook with which to make and receive hands-free calls. It's reasonably basic but gets the job done. Those with an iPhone can benefit from voice activation for various tasks.
You'll need to connect a smartphone to the car if you want to use Sat Nav because it's not built in. This is a little weird if you ask me and means buying and downloading an app, albeit a cheap one, to your device which the Adam uses, along with GPS. Of course, it displays it on the 7in screen and gives you audio instructions. It works well once set up but isn't exactly the bees knees. You can also use other apps via your smartphone although there are only two: TuneIn Radio and Sticher.