Opel Reworks Agila MPV

September 12, 2007

First introduced eight years ago as the perfect European city car, Opel is back with its next-generation Agila, this time targeting one of the world’s fastest-growing segments. And how things have changed. Where the original Agila aimed at young, budget-minded urbanites, the new car could see a surge in demand from an array of buyers with an array of needs and interests, from empty-nesters to those looking to trim fuel bills, as well as those simply hoping to make a more environmentally-friendly statement.

The new car is visually more appealing, with a decidedly more curvaceous, balanced, and up-market look. Like the original, the ’08 Agila’s small footprint is offset by its tall and upright seating position. But instead of repeating the first-generation’s boxy shape, the roofline is a wee bit lower, arcing gracefully from front to rear, without compromising headroom. The new car is about 7.87 inches longer than before, 2.4 inches wider, and 2.8 inches lower.


A more sculpted exterior is carried over into the interior. Opel has moved away from the theme of basic – as in cheap and boring – transportation. There’s a markedly better use of materials, which are now offered in a variety of colors and styles, with large and easy-to-read gauges. As before, the Agila provides room for five, with flexible seating that can be reconfigured to expand cargo capacity – from 7.9 to a maximum 37 cubic feet.


Two different, mileage-minded gasoline powertrains are offered, both supplied by GM’s long-time partner, Suzuki: a 1.0-liter in-line three-cylinder making 65 horsepower, and an 86-hp, 1.2-liter four. There’s also a 1.3-liter common-rail turbodiesel that gets nearly 50 mpg. And this time ’round, buyers can opt for an automatic transmission.


In keeping with industry trends, the 2008 Agila is better equipped; there are steering wheel-mounted audio controls, for example, and on the safety side, it now features electronic stability control.


Where the Opel division takes this segment is a matter of debate – especially inside the company. During its half-hour Frankfurt news conference, GM also displayed a trio of minicars that were developed in various parts of the world. The so-called “triplets” first appeared at the New York Auto Show, last spring, and at that time, company officials said they would closely gauge reaction, during the year’s auto show circuit, to see which, if any, of the three might follow into production.

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