From £7,9407

Engine options, speed, acceleration and refinement

As you might expect from a car in a range with an entry-level price around £8500, there is no techno-trickery of any great note on the Agila. It comes with two engines, of which the 1.0-litre three-cylinder is found in other Vauxhalls while the 1.2-litre four-cylinder motor is supplied by Suzuki. There was initially also a 1.3-litre, Fiat-designed diesel but that has now left the price list.

For the first time a four-speed automatic gearbox is available, but even though it’s fitted to the 85bhp/86lb ft 1.2-litre engine it saps acceleration to sub-1.0-litre level, which is not something most people are going to want to countenance. The much better alternative is the standard five-speed manual.

Performance is too grand a word to describe what happens when you ram home the accelerator

‘Performance’ is sadly rather too grand a word to describe what happens when you ram home the 1.0-litre Agila’s accelerator and wait for something to happen. If you’re in one of the lower gears and your speed is below, say, 40mph, a pleasantly offbeat note emanates from somewhere deep under the bonnet as the all-alloy three-pot motor tries to muster as many of its 64bhp as it can. After a while you’ll notice a slight but steady repositioning of the speedo and rev-counter needles.

The 1.2 is quiet and willing to bowl along motorways at 85mph with little effort, it rides like a bigger car and behaves in a much more grown up way than you might expect.

To be fair, performance from the 1.0-litre is only a little worse than the class average, and if you think the Agila sounds slow, a not-so-quick crawl up the road in a Hyundai i10 will soon set you straight.

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This is perhaps the one area of endeavour in which cars in this class appear to have made next to no progress, and the reason is clear. When we put the Agila on our scales it registered 1040kg. That a car this small should weigh over a tonne seems frankly perverse.