Nov 6 2008 Mike Torpey
Vauxhall Agila 1.3 CDTi Design
VAUXHALL may just have bagged the best of both worlds with its tall but small model, the Agila.
It's nippy enough to whizz through city traffic and fit into the tightest of parking spots, yet has enough interior space to satisfy the needs of people who wouldn't normally give a second thought to cars of this size.
If the original Agila was a box on wheels, this latest model - which arrived in early summer - is far more stylish, 'greener' and cheaper to run.
Its line-up is simple - there are three models and the same number of engines, with a streamlined set of options for those wanting extras like metallic paint, electronic stability control or air-con.
The range kicks off with the Agila 1.0i 12-valve at £7,595 - a smart choice at the price - and includes an 86PS 1.2-litre 16-valver and, for the first time in this car, a 1.3 CDTi 16v diesel. Trim grades are Expression, Club and Design.
Certainly there are better looking cars - the Renault Modus and more expensive Honda Jazz to name two - vying for the same custom, but the Agila has much to recommend it.
A high roofline means there's plenty of headroom and the feeling of space while room for three in the back is adequate.
The boot looks tiny but in all bar entry level cars the rear seats drop to open up a substantial area. There's also a FlexLoad false floor in the boot for storing stuff like shopping bags.
That's the functional side, then there's the funky bit with Club and Design models featuring two-tone seats that match the exterior car colour, a rev counter pod mounted on the dash and fabrics that incorporate the Agila name.
Okay the facia and door panel plastics are a bit brittle, but they don't look cheap and are nicely designed anyway.
The tested model was the 1.3 diesel, the same unit used so successfully in the Vauxhall Corsa. It's not too noisy, feels like it offers more punch than the official acceleration figure suggests and returns an excellent average of almost 63 miles per gallon.
On the down side, this flagship model will set customers back a princely £11,635 - and that's without metallic or pearlescent paint at £350 and £400 for ESP.
Running costs are low though, the 120g/km of emissions meaning this model, along with the Agila 1.0i, incurs a vehicle excise duty charge of a mere £35 a year.
On the whole, this is a rewarding little car to drive and one you come to appreciate more through familiarity. It's not perfect - the five-speed manual gearshift is notchy and the Agila doesn't fare as well as lower, heavier cars in strong winds and rain - but it's very nimble and has a terrific turning circle.
Every model comes with four airbags, ABS, electronic ignition immobiliser, single slot CD player, tinted glass, internal fuel filler release, Isofix child seat mountings and an audible 'lights on' warning.
Vauxhall Agila Design 1.3 CDTi 5dr
Price : £11,635
Mechanical : 73bhp, 1,248cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 5spd manual gearbox
Max speed : 103mph
0-62mph : 13.9 secs
Combined mpg : 62.8
Insurance group : 4
CO2 emissions : 120g/km
BiK rating : 18%
Warranty : 3yrs/ 60,000 miles, 6yrs anti-rust