The Vauxhall Agila is very similar to the Suzuki Wagon R, although it comes with different engines and trim levels. It is a good city runabout offering more room and practicality than most other small city cars, but you’ll regret any decisions to take it out of the city as if you do the engines will feel underpowered, very noisy and the rattle is multiplied by oncoming wind due to the car’s boxy shape.
The Vauxhall Agila may not look like much of a car from the outside with its large boxy MPV-styled exterior, but this layout means that the car has a roomy interior which is better than most other small city cars. There is plenty of head room and adequate legroom for the passengers in the rear and the boot is a good size too, being able to accommodate a week’s shopping. It gains further versatility over other city cars as it only comes with five doors making getting in and out easy. The seats aren’t very comfortable, though, feeling very flat without any cushioning. They also lack support which makes them feel very uncomfortable on longer journeys.
The 1.0i edition only ever came with one trim, but from 2002 the 1.2i was offered with either the Club or Design trim levels. We’d go for the Design spec as it comes with added little luxuries such as electric front windows, air-con and a CD stereo.
There are only two engines available in the Vauxhall Agila and both of them are petrol units: a 58bhp 1.0-litre and a 57bhp 1.2-litre.
The 1.0-litre engine is best avoided as it is only good in an urban environment. As soon as you take it out of the city, it struggles - taking a slow 17 seconds to eventually reach 60mph. Once you get there you’ll wish you hadn’t as the engine makes a headache-inducing drone. The 1.2-litre unit is better, but not by much. It is at least quicker, taking 12.5 seconds to get to 60mph and is only just behind the 1.0-litre version on fuel efficiency achieving 43mpg, compared to the smaller engine’s 44mpg. Out of the two engines it’s the one to go for, but that’s only because there is nothing better.
Insurance costs are fairly cheap. The 1.0-litre model comes into group 2 while the 1.2-litre into group 3.
The Agila handles well in urban situations thanks to its small turning circle and light steering. There is some body roll in the corners, it feels out of depth on the motorway and there is plenty of noise from the wind, road and engine, especially at high speeds. Its boxy shape and low weight also means that it is easily affected by strong side winds.
The Agila is fairly fault-free, but there are some things to look out for. The first is the suspension, which may produce loud clonks. Luckily this is not a major problem as new bushes should fix the issue. Other problems to look for are related to the optional central locking, which is prone to failing and the clutch, which can give up on you after just 50,000 miles.
Servicing costs should be reasonably cheap as the Agila only needs to go in for check-ups every 20,000 miles.
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