Fleet News

Vauxhall Agila

Vauxhall

Review

##vauagi.jpg --Right##TO set the record straight, Vauxhall Agila and Suzuki Wagon R+ are not one and the same mini people-carrier - both manufacturers are very clear about that. There is some cross fertilisation, which is only natural when General Motors owns 10% of Suzuki and the Japanese car maker has a 0.07% share in the Vauxhall parent: Suzuki came up with the original MPC concept for its home market, sold a few in Europe then sold the idea to GM.

With the light behind them, you'd have a job telling the difference between an Agila and a Wagon R+, but under the spotlight the two are chalk and crayon. Agila is made in a new factory in Poland, Wagon R+ in a new factory in Hungary. Agila has GM 1.0-litre and 1.2-litre petrol engines with manual transmission, Wagon R+ has a 1.3-litre unit with manual or auto and four-wheel drive. Vauxhall has a vast network through which to sell its city car. Suzuki's is more modest. Vauxhall will sell about 6,000 Agilas in Britain a year - and could get 25-30% into corporate buyers' hands - Wagon R+ is hoping to get close to that with 5,000 units.

Both are about practical packing and prices, and while we've a fair idea of what will come as standard and what won't, both manufacturers are being coy about how much they will charge. The cheapest non-special edition Corsa comes in at £7,800. Our understanding is that the entry Agila will be placed well below £7,000, and that should open up additional opportunities in the Motability market and perhaps with local authority fleets.

We had a brief drive in the 1.0-litre, which was not as hard work as one might imagine from a three-cylinder engine designed for economy rather than performance. Thrashed, it begins to sound like a Fiat 500 but, thankfully, without the vibration and harshness. The 1.2 is, needless to say, a more relaxed performer. Not swift exactly, but nimble. We put it through its paces through the narrow, hilly streets of Sardinia's capital, Cagliari, where its tight turning circle was a godsend - as was the optional satellite navigation (although at about £1,000 for a mono version, that might be hard to justify for UK city use).

The tall Agila is a genuinely comfortable four-seater. Driver and passengers step up into it and the rear pair sit almost four inches higher than those in the front, still with plenty of headroom. There's plenty of interior storage space and compartment (including two underseat trays in our test car) in a tidy, bright interior in which there are the Vauxhall hallmarks of dash and fascia design.

The cunning 50:50 split rear seat arrangement is a Suzuki idea, a sort of Flex-2 in that it (or just half, if required) folds neatly away in one movement. With all four seats in use the load area is 248 litres, but this can go up to 1,250 to the roof line with the rear seats folded flat for a payload of about 350kg.

The 1.2 is a considerably better performer than the 1.0: but neither had problems keeping up with A-road flows, and in both the comfortable cruising zone is 60-65mph. Depending on pricing, the 1.2 should be the fleet pick.

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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