What is driving this is cost cutting. The Big Three are hardly short of a bob or two between them, but putting a little less of a squeeze on the profit margins is always good news at the end of the day. While much of the savings are being made in behind-the-scenes operations, one area where the consolidation is most evident is in the cars we drive. In the old days it was known as badge engineering but nowadays it's called platform sharing.
When Vauxhall (General Motors) wanted to expand into the ever-growing city car segment, it decided it didn't really want to design a new model from the ground up. So instead it bought a stake in Suzuki and rebadged the Japanese firm's Wagon R and, hey presto, the Agila is born. It's all rather like Victor Kiam who liked a Remington shaver so much he bought the company, although it is hard to imagine GM head honcho Richard Wagoner ever sampling the delights of a Wagon R. What all this means is that Vauxhall has another range in its extensive line-up - positioned below the Corsa in both size and price.
The Agila is a five-door micro hatchback offering a choice of 1.0-litre three cylinder or 1.2-litre four cylinder petrol units borrowed from the Corsa, putting out 57bhp and 74bhp respectively.
It's hardly going to set the world on fire performance-wise, but as a versatile city car, the Agila has everything it needs for the job. There are plenty of rivals for the Agila, not least Suzuki's virtually identical Wagon R+, Daewoo's Matiz, and Daihatsu's Cuore.