The Vauxhall Agila shares many of its mechanical underpinnings with the Suzuki Splash. While the second-generation five-door hatchback was launched essentially as a city car back in 2008, it’s capable of living life well beyond town limits. If you’re in the market for an affordable first car, the Agila is well worth putting on your consideration list.
Vauxhall stopped building the Agila in 2013 - you’d never think that from looking at the car. It still looks modern and quite funky.
There’s plenty of cheeky character at the front. With those swoopy headlamps and the big chrome V set into the grille, it almost looks like the Agila is grinning at you. This is a car that you’re going to want to give a name to.
Big, deep bumpers front and rear and prominent wheel arches give the Agila a robust, ‘roughty-tufty’ look. Yet at the same time, the way the roofline swoops backwards and the manner in which the tailgate kicks up at the rear make the Agila look quite agile and light on its toes.
It still looks modern and quite funky.
What’s it like to drive?
OK, let’s get the bad news out of the way first, not that there’s much of it. As the Agila is quite tall, it can be susceptible to crosswinds. So, on a very blustery day on the motorway, you may get buffeted around a little bit. The rest of the news is good though. With the Agila’s soft suspension, you and your passengers will have a comfortable ride.
Venturing into an unknown city need cause no worries for, with its light but precise steering, the Agila is easy to manoeuvre and effortless to park. And if you do get lost and need to make a nippy little U-turn, the car’s nice, tight turning circles make it a doddle.
With the Agila’s soft suspension, you and your passengers will have a comfortable ride.
Climb aboard and you’ll find that the Agila’s interior lives up to the promise provided by the car’s sturdy, yet sporty, exterior looks. Everything feels exceptionally solid and well screwed together. This is a car where nothing is going to fall off no matter how stressful your day has been and how hard you slam the door when you get home.
The layout is smart too, with a big central speed dial and good-sized stereo, heating and ventilation controls. The gear lever is positioned nice and high up – just where you want it for relaxed driving. Vauxhall hasn’t skimped on the quality of the front seats either. They offer good support and comfort on long journeys, and there’s a wide range of driving positions.
Head- and legroom are good up front. And if the driver and passenger are happy to slide their seats forward just a little bit, two adults can sit comfortably enough in the rear seats, although the middle rear seat is really suitable for children only.
Equipment was reasonable when the car was launched. Remember, this was a time before you could connect your smartphone to a car, so allowances have to be made. There’s a choice of five trim levels: Club, Design, Expression, S and SE. All are equipped with double ISOFIX child seat anchor points, driver and passenger and side airbags, and a CD player as standard.
Go just one step up from entry-level Club to Design spec and you’ll enjoy creature comforts and features such as air-con, alloy wheels, remote locking, electric front windows, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, and a height-adjustable driver’s seat.
If you love to make sure that everything is in its place, you’ll admire the Vauxhall Agila’s cabin and all the clever little stowage solutions it provides. Along with a reasonably sized glovebox, there’s a recessed shelf above the glovebox and another one in front of the gear lever, plus a lidded stowage area on top of the dashboard. The door bins are wide enough to hold a small bottle of water.
As you’d expect with a city car, the boot isn’t massive, although it will hold a small suitcase on its side. There’s good stowage space underneath the boot floor, and the rear seats split 60/40 and are super-quick and easy to fold down.
Running costs and reliability
With its modest performance, the Vauxhall Agila is never going to be used as a getaway car. You won’t need to rob any banks or plunge your own account into the red to run one.
The five-door city car should be inexpensive to buy, insure, tax and service. For optimum efficiency, the diesel model should return around 55mpg during everyday driving, so that’s worth considering if you do a lot of motorway miles. Drive the 1.2-litre petrol carefully and you should get 42mpg.
What we love
Car designers just love to create sports cars and luxury saloons. Sometimes, though, city cars look like they’ve been designed by the work experience kid. That certainly isn’t the case with the Vauxhall Agila. It’s clearly had a lot of design love lavished on it, both inside and out.It’s got real style as a result, and whether it’s a first-time buy or an additional family run-around, its cheeky character will put a little motoring fun in your life
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With production ending in 2013, the Vauxhall Agila is not the most modern of five-door city cars. But it was built to stand the test of time and offers big appeal for small money. The car is easy to drive in town and fun on the open road. It’ll get those who are just beginning their motoring life off to a good start or lend a helping hand to a family who need an additional run-around.
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