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
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