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f a guy goes by the name of Tiny, he’s rarely small. Chances are he’s a moun­tain with a sur­name like Coet­zee and arms like gumtree trunks. A bit like a Mini.

Its name de­notes minute­ness, but the mar­que has spawned hip­popota­muses such as the Mini Pace­man, Coun­try­man and, as they call it, the five­door hatch. Heck, they even in­sist we write it MINI, even though it’s not an acro­nym.

The Mini, once the most de­sired car in Mzansi, has be­come too grown up.

Mini’s de­par­ture to sleepy sub­ur­bia, where Golfs and Beemers roam, left a void for the Fiat 500, Citroën DS3 and Opel Adam.

These trendies are of­ten called bou­tique hatch­backs and, al­though small, they are well equipped, lux­u­ri­ous and solidly built, while rock­ing avant-garde or retro de­signs.

Suzuki Cele­rios or Chevy Sparks these ain’t.

The top-dog Adam Rocks 1.0T that I drove sets it­self apart from its more af­ford­able kin with the fol­low­ing em­bel­lish­ments: Firstly, a slid­ing can­vas roof for semi-naked mo­tor­ing. Se­condly, it has fat­ter wheels framed by plas­tic arches and a few mil­lime­tres more ground clear­ance, giv­ing it that SUV look.

Fi­nally, it’s R60 000 dearer than the sim­i­larly turbo-charged Adam Jam.

From Cape Town to Jozi the lively turbo en­gine, in­te­rior com­fort and struc­tural in­tegrity of the Adam Rocks made light work of the 1 700km route I took. Not just that, it trig­gered a re­lease of sero­tonin in my brain ev­ery time I walked to­wards it. How­ever, the low­pro­file tyres made the ride bouncy and the heat made the glo­ri­fied sun­roof use­less and some­thing that only con­trib­uted, though not much, to wind noise.

Luck­ily, I drove solo, be­cause I had to fold the rear back­rest flat to fit in my enor­mous suit­case.

The Adam does have room for Eve, but with so lit­tle room for Cain and Abel, a fight is guar­an­teed. And we all know how that ends.

Still, I was smit­ten. If my car bud­get were R220 000, in­stead of R140 000, I’d own an Adam Jam. It’s more youth­ful, com­pact and fun to drive than a Mini – and more at­tain­able too.

It’s also bet­ter and cheaper than the Adam Rocks, and al­most as sexy.

If the Adam is the an­ti­dote to con­form­ity in the bou­tique hatch­back class, then the Subaru Out­back is its coun­ter­part, wag­ing a no­ble war in the SUV class, al­beit

A WAY OF LIFE

The youth­ful, com­pact and fun-to-drive Opel Adam

RIDE IN COM­FORT The Subaru Out­back is re­fined and ex­tremely safe, and of­fers a lux­u­ri­ous ride

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