Opel Adam: GM’s German division takes on Mini Cooper, Fiat 500

Opel Adam camo motion front three-quarterOpel, General Motors’ European division, will unveil a new city car this fall at the Paris Motor Show. In the meantime, the company released photos of a heavily-camouflaged prototype to give a hint at what the car will look like. Whatever its actual shape, the smallest Opel will be named Adam and will compete against micro cars like the Mini Cooper, Fiat 500, and Volkswagen Up!

The Adam has three doors and seating for four. It measures 145.7 inches long, making it about the same length as a Mini. It is also about six inches longer than the Fiat and VW. That British hatchback isn’t called “Mini” for nothing, so even though the Adam will be bigger than the other two, it will still be plenty small.

The Adam will have an appropriately small engine: a three or four-cylinder displacing no more than 1.6 liters. If Opel really does plan to follow its rivals’ example, the Adam will probably have a range of available engines. Fiat offers six engines in the European 500, including a 900 cc twin.

Volkswagen went for simplicity when designing the Up!, but Fiat and Mini made their cars fashion accessories. Opel is adopting the latter approach with the Adam, claiming it will be highly customizable. Personalized 500s and Minis attract plenty of attention to their respective brands, and the same thing could happen with this new Opel. Granted, the Adam will not have the other car’s retro styling.

Speaking of styling, it is hard to tell what the Adam will actually look like. Important details like the front fascia and the rear window are covered. The squinting headlights are high up, in accordance with European pedestrian safety laws. However, they may look very different without camouflage.

Once all the plastic cladding is stripped away, the Adam will look less bulky, but will it be pretty? Opel’s current models, such as the Astra and Insignia (a.k.a. Buick Regal) are fairly handsome, and that bodes well.The company already makes a small, three-door hatchback, the Corsa; the Adam will probably look like a scaled-down version of that car. The Adam will be fully revealed at the Paris Motor Show in September.

Although it is a GM car, the Adam was designed and built entirely in Germany. It will also be sold as the Vauxhall Adam in England; Opel and Vauxhall share all models. However, the Adam will not be coming to the United States. With Chevy Sonic, and upcoming Spark, already in the lineup, the General has plenty of small cars. The Spark is only one inch shorter than the Adam.

In addition, Opel needs to keep as many sales for itself as possible. While the rest of GM’s profits rise, Opel continues to lose money. The German brand has cost GM $14.7 billion since 1999, and the American bosses have threatened to sell or discontinue the brand multiple times. A successful small car could be just the thing to turn Opel’s fortunes around.