Adventure Calls: Opel ADAM ROCKS at Dudenhofen Test Center
Jun 25, 2014
Over hill and down dale: Urban mini-crossover rocks through the torture track
In fast motion: 24-week test in Dudenhofen as tough as a whole car life
Attractive entry-level price: ADAM ROCKS for 15,990 euros soon available to order
Rüsselsheim. Recently it captivated visitors to the Auto Mobil International (AMI) show in Leipzig, and now in just a few days it will be available to order: the Opel ADAM ROCKS is ready to roll! Open-air driving fun is an essential part of the ADAM ROCKS repertoire with a Swing Top canvas roof fitted as standard, all for 15,990 euros (RRP incl. VAT in Germany). But before customers can enjoy this stylish mini-crossover in the city and beyond, Opel engineers have once again put it through its paces at the Opel Test Center in Dudenhofen.
With its muscular proportions, encapsulated by bold side-sill plates and distinctive body cladding, the ROCKS likes to show what it can do beyond the urban landscape. Key to its purposeful stance is a 15 mm increase in body ride height, giving greater ground clearance and a wide, robust appearance. Numerous components have been modified or re-tuned to guarantee (almost) limitless driving fun. These include dampers, springs, the front and rear suspension geometry, steering and the electronic stability control program (ESC).
To prove the effectiveness of all these changes, it was time to ‘hit the track’, of course with expert guidance. The Opel engineering team took the ADAM ROCKS to its limits at the Test Center. Be it on the torture track, the high-speed circuit or the hill track – the ADAM ROCKS had to cover around 40,000 km at Dudenhofen. This tough test is equivalent to covering 160,000 km on particularly demanding real roads. Vehicles at the Opel Test Center are exposed to levels of stress and strain in just 24 weeks that correspond to an entire vehicle life experience under normal road conditions.
For example the torture track: here the auto industry’s first urban three-door mini-crossover proved its durability. That’s because the track delivers exactly what its name promises: more than 900 meters of potholes, humps, the “washboard“, a cobbled section and a pavé track. It’s a really tough test for the chassis, which will most probably never go through such torture in real life. But it was not a problem for the ROCKS. After all, the small ADAM ROCKS’ design and durability were inspired by the exploits of agile ‘Parkour’ athletes, who use the city landscape as their playground and easily overcome every obstacle.
On the newly-expanded high-speed circuit, the saying is: “Only flying is better”. Thanks to its 40 degree banking, speeds of up to 250 km/h can be achieved without lateral forces. This enables Opel engineers to test their calculated target values, such as top speed, while being able to relax and release the steering wheel once in a while. To put the steering, transmission and brakes to the test, the ADAM ROCKS also successfully completed the hill track. This undulating, man-made circuit has rising and falling gradients, ranging from eight to 30 percent, with different road surfaces and a serpentine section including hairpin turns – similar to conditions found in alpine mountains. It was another stage that the newest Opel family member effortlessly rocked through. Opel’s agile urban athlete really showed off its strengths, particularly in curves. The newly-tuned steering underpins the ADAM ROCKS’ agility, impressing with its direct responsiveness and sporty driving style.
Quality assurance right before start of sales
On Dudenhofen’s comfort and noise measurement track across various road surfaces, engineers tested their development work to ensure it is transferred to real-life experience. As a result, ADAM ROCKS meets the requirements of the ECE-R51.02 pass-by noise type approval regulations. The main factors affecting pass-by sound are powertrain noise emissions, especially those from the exhaust system. The test track used for the ADAM ROCKS was exactly 23.74 meters long. In accordance with the standard procedure, engineers drive onto the track in second and third gear, both at 50 km/h, and then accelerate under full throttle. To the left and right of the track, directional microphones are posted which capture the pass-by noise. The average limit value for pass-by noise in second and third gear is 74 dB(A) – and the small crossover mastered this without a problem.
But that’s not all. A decisive test which the series production version of the ADAM ROCKS had to undergo was the endurance track. The longest track at the test center offers many different road surfaces including asphalt and cobblestones, bumps and numerous curves. Here engineers test if the performance and quality they fine-tuned and approved in the development vehicles has been successfully transferred to the volume production vehicles. “This gives us another possibility for additional quality assurance right up to the start of sales,” says Rainer Bachen, Lead Development Engineer at Opel. “For example, if we determine in Dudenhofen that the steering feels different, or bothersome noises can be heard inside the vehicle, we can immediately take appropriate measures and get the quality back on track before delivery to our customers.”
During the development phase of ADAM ROCKS, everything for the prototype making in the development center is carried out by hand. In contrast, speed and volume count in series production, so that series production quality also has to undergo final testing. That is why the team brings the ADAM ROCKS into the workshop after the various test runs and examines the vehicle and its individual components. “We want to be absolutely sure that our series production cars drive exactly like we tuned our prototypes during development. In the process, safety, quality and endurance are top priority for us,” says Bachen. So when the endurance test is completed, engineers again check all the fastening elements which were bolted together by series equipment, disassembling the ROCKS down to its single components to assess every single part. After this careful inspection, the result was an unqualified “Thumbs up!”. So there is nothing standing in the way of having pure driving fun at the wheel of the ADAM ROCKS – even over hill and dale – from September.