22 March 2005

The next-generation Vauxhall Agila is tipped to ditch its utilitarian shape and styling in favour of a sportier, funkier design hinted at by last year’s Trixx concept. Vauxhall will decide within the next ‘six to 12 months’ the future direction of the Agila, which was launched in 2000 and is due for replacement in early 2008. ‘What we really want is a more attractively styled car,’ says Vauxhall boss Kevin Wale. The platform for the new Agila will be crucial. The current model is a re-badged version of the Suzuki Wagon R, built in Eastern Europe. If Vauxhall ditches the Wagon R look in favour of a sportier, more compact shape, it will have to find a new chassis to base the Agila on. One option would be to clamber back into bed with Fiat, allowing the car to use the Panda platform.

Although GM and Fiat have unravelled their partnership, the next Agila could get Fiat’s 1.3 JTD diesel, which is also being examined for use in GM’s Korean-built Chevrolet models such as the Matiz and Kalos. The 70bhp common-rail diesel would give the hatches a major boost, with an economy of around 60 to 65mpg.

Under the agreement that ends GM and Fiat joint ventures, GM will co-own the common-rail JTD technology, including the 1.3 Multijet. However, the engine may have to be built in Europe and exported to Korea to satisfy a clause in the co-ownership agreement.

Availability of the JTD engine has put development of the 1.5 three-cylinder diesel on hold. A 2.0 four-cylinder diesel comes on stream this year.

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