Used Vauxhall Agila
Launched in 2000 the boxy Vauxhall Agila is basically a Suzuki Wagon R with different badges. In fact it's always been built in Suzuki's factories not by Vauxhall itself. That's no bad thing though as the Japanese maker has a good reputation for build quality and reliability. Designed as a city car it's small but has a surprising amount of space inside thanks to its height and upright seating positions.
A second generation car came out in 2008, this time based on the Suzuki Splash. This was rather more stylish and for the first time was available with diesel as well as petrol power.
Bang for your buck
First generation used Vauxhall Agila cars for sale had either a 1.0-litre 12v engine or a 1.2 unit borrowed from the Corsa. Only one trim level was offered though you could specify a Comfort Pack with central locking and electric windows or an Exterior Plus Pack with alloy wheels and front fog lamps.
The Mk2 cars had the option of a 1.3-litre diesel engine for the first time and came in Expression, Club and Design trim options. Whilst retaining the practicality of the original the second Agila moved away from the city car ethos and is a more accomplished all rounder.
What you'll pay
The earliest 2000 on a W plate will go for about £1,000 for a 1.0-litre, a couple of hundred more for a 1.2 with a premium of an extra £100 or so for either of the option packs. A 2007 1.2 will fetch around £3,000.
The first of the Mk2 cars on a 58 plate should sell for £4,500 or so for a 1.2, expect to pay a couple of hundred more for a diesel. A one year old car will set you back £7,500 to £8,000 depending on mileage and spec. Insurance is group 1 or 2 according to the model so running costs will be low.
What to check
Used Vauxhall Agilas were built by Suzuki and so have a deserved reputation for reliability. On Mk1 cars check the exhaust system and make sure that the car doesn't jump out of gear. The 1.0 litre models probably won't have done much mileage but will have been used to ferry kids and shopping so check for worn seats and damaged boot trim. On Mk2 cars again inspect the interior trim carefully and avoid high mileage examples. Cars over 2-years old can suffer corrosion of the ABS pump if the brake fluid hasn't been changed at the correct intervals.
Parts for either model won't break the bank. Expect to pay about £100 for a clutch, £130 for an exhaust. An alternator will be about £150 (reconditioned) and a starter motor around £110. A reconditioned radiator is about £100.
How it drives
You may be pleasantly surprised by the way the Agila drives. It's no sports car but is quite agile with sharp power steering and despite being tall it doesn't roll too much in corners. A 1.2 takes 13 seconds to 60 and can do 100mph so it's able to hold its own on the motorway. The car will spend most of its time in town though and here its tight turning circle comes into its own in multi-storey car parks and tight back streets. Either Mk1 engine should be able to manage 40mpg.
Mk2s have a slick 5-speed gearbox and there's the option of an automatic on the 1.2. Of course there's a diesel too which provides low down pulling power and makes the car feel quicker than its 13.3 second 0-60 time might suggest. It's tall with good visibility which makes the Agila easy to manoeuvre and park. Expect 50+ mpg from a 1.0 petrol and close to 70mpg from a gently driven diesel. Emissions are low too so you'll pay less for road tax.
If you're buying a Mk1 car and don't spend all your time around town it's worth stretching your budget for a 1.2. The performance is much better and it won't cost any more to run. Mk2s are more capable all-rounders whatever the engine size, easy to drive and with decent performance. If you're in the market for a compact, practical car that won't cost much to run it's worth putting the second hand Vauxhall Agila on your shopping list.