The Agila came into being just before the turn of the century to satisfy a perceived need for a dedicated city car. The answer was provided by Suzuki – which remains part owned by General Motors – in the form of its space-efficient Wagon R. Vauxhall installed its own engines and tweaked the styling slightly, but it remained very much a Suzuki product adapted by Vauxhall.

Vauxhall says that the Agila is much more of a joint venture, although it is built alongside the Suzuki equivalent — the Splash.

How do you convince someone that the era when people bought small city cars solely because they couldn’t afford anything else is well and truly over? Just take them for a quick spin in this new Vauxhall Agila.

Like its Suzuki near-clone (both cars are built by Suzuki in Hungary), the Agila’s purpose in life extends far beyond the traditional boundaries of budget transport, in which how you got there mattered not at all compared to the fact that you got there at all.

The Agila is not merely pretty; it’s a real attention magnet. That such design fluency has been achieved within the usually style-sapping limitation of tall five-door hatch architecture is entirely to its creators’ credit, for it means that this is a car with a real chance of working in the real world.

Top 5 Superminis

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Vauxhall range

Driven this week

  • BMW X7 2019 first drive review - hero front
    19 March 2019
    First Drive
    Vaster than our road networks need, but undeniably capacious and finely...
  • Peugeot 5008 2018 long-term review hero front
    18 March 2019
    First Drive
    Did six months with Peugeot's seven-seater prove it has a place among...
  • Lynk&Co 01 PHEV 2019 first drive review - hero front
    15 March 2019
    First Drive
    Youthful styling on a Volvo technological base make this plug-in hybrid SUV a...

But questions remain: should even a mid-spec, 1.0-litre, 64bhp Agila like our test car (there's also a 1.2-litre with a lively 95bhp) really cost almost £1000 more than a car such as 1.2-litre Fiat Panda, a former Car of the Year and a favourite of ours since it was launched? And because even small cars cannot live by city street alone, how does it fare when removed from its comfort zone?

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Vauxhall range

Driven this week

  • BMW X7 2019 first drive review - hero front
    19 March 2019
    First Drive
    Vaster than our road networks need, but undeniably capacious and finely...
  • Peugeot 5008 2018 long-term review hero front
    18 March 2019
    First Drive
    Did six months with Peugeot's seven-seater prove it has a place among...
  • Lynk&Co 01 PHEV 2019 first drive review - hero front
    15 March 2019
    First Drive
    Youthful styling on a Volvo technological base make this plug-in hybrid SUV a...