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 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.