Vauxhall agila 1.2 (2008) review

Vauxhall agila 1.2 (2008) review


Vauxhall’s gone for spaciousness to compel Agila buyers, and it certainly feels like a much more mature (if less original) proposition than the C1/107/Aygo clan if you regularly carry passengers. The £7595 1.0-litre base model is excellent value for volume with a mainstream badge, but its lack of power might rule it out as anything other than a city-car.

The top-spec test car is listed at £9595, still decent value considering its equipment spec, but it’s £800 more than a Fiat Panda Eleganza 1.2. It’s more spacious than the Panda though, which means that the real competition is rather more insidious: the equivalent Suzuki Splash is expected to undercut the Agila by £500.

And under the bonnet?

Vauxhall is claiming two brand new powertrains for the Agila and, fair enough, the 1.0-litre three cylinder and the 1.2-litre four are new to Vauxhall. Yep, you guessed it, they’re Suzuki engines, competitive in terms of power output (64bhp and 85bhp respectively) and CO2 – especially the 1.0, at 120g/km.

The 1.3 CDTi matches it for emissions, and that’s the familiar 74bhp diesel engine from the Corsa and Meriva. But diesel-powered city-cars make little sense in Britain, and the 1.2 petrol (131g/km) is expected to be the biggest seller. Vauxhall charges a £1600 premium for burning oil, which would take quite a few miles to pay off at 62.8mpg, when the 1.2 manages 51.4mpg. The thrifty 1.0-litre splits the two on fuel efficiency at 56.5mpg.

Enough of practicality. Is it fun?

The interior will certainly brighten your mood, thanks to its vivid colour schemes, and the 1.2 four cylinder responds with an eager thrum when you gun it. Acceleration at town speeds is quite nippy and the gearbox is light in action but not so slick you’d swap cogs for fun. The steering is a similar story: undemanding, consistent but devoid of real feedback.

Through corners, the Agila rolls less than you might expect and it’s basically competent, if boring for enthusiasts. The ride is mostly buoyant, only becoming crashy over seriously broken surfaces. The rest of the time it’s unobtrusive but not standard-setting, though far more comfortable than the Aygo.

Vauxhall is keen to stress that the new Agila isn’t just a city-car. It’s certainly a more serious proposition out of town than the original, able to cruise at motorway speeds without a great deal of fuss, though you’ll be dropping to fourth if the gradient gets steep. Think of it as a decent cross-county traveller, rather than cross-country.

So it’s roomy then?

The Agila uses its height to its advantage  by seating its occupants upright. It’s a full 50mm taller than the Panda and a useful 200mm longer too, so you’re getting a lot of metal for your money.

Yet, while Vauxhall is keen to call the Agila a proper five-seater, the reality is that it’s comfortable only for four adults if they’re reasonably slim and an inch or two less than six feet tall. The large rear doors make getting in and out of the back easy though, so it’s perfect for school runs.

A single action drops the rear seat, making for a flat load floor, but the seat base collapses rather than tipping, so there’s no bulkhead to ensure your goods don’t pile forward when you brake. In van mode there’s 1050 litres of space – nearly 200 litres more than the Panda. Seats up, it’s much closer (225 versus 206) – enough for schoolbags or a supermarket run.

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