New Agila vs rivals

The new Vauxhall Agila and Suzuki Splash claim to make urban driving easier. Can they beat Hyundai’s superb i10?

New Agila vs rivals

The city car market is really hotting up, with an explosion in the number of excellent models available. Those ranks are about to be swelled further with the launch of two newcomers: the Vauxhall Agila and Suzuki Splash.

As you’ve probably already spotted from the pictures, they are incredibly similar. General Motors and Suzuki have teamed up to build these latest small cars (the previous Agila was mechanically identical to the Suzuki Wagon R, too). But unlike their boxy predecessors, the new duo is designed to be far more stylish and youthful.

Both were engineered in Japan and are assembled at Suzuki’s plant in Hungary, alongside the Swift, SX4 and Ignis. Each claims to provide a practical and spacious interior, as well as being good to drive and cheap to run. However, Suzuki is looking to differentiate the Splash by offering more generous equipment, including stability control, as standard.

But these new models face an extremely stiff challenge in the shape of the superb Hyundai i10. It’s already beaten the excellent Fiat Panda (Auto Express’s 2004 Car Of The Year), and has a clear price advantage over its competitors here, too.

The Suzuki and Vauxhall are both slightly larger and more powerful, but does this justify their higher price? We tackled the urban jungle to find out.

Verdict

The Suzuki Splash is easy to drive, practical, spacious and great value. You can’t ask much more of a vehicle designed to tackle the urban jungle. So what puts it ahead of the Agila? Well, aside from the looks, the Splash is better equipped, cheaper to buy and should cost less to run, too.

We’re surprised Vauxhall doesn’t offer the same standard safety kit, as in every other respect the Agila is just as good. Its cabin is well thought out, with lots of stowage, and the engine is decent. On the move, both are competent, offering reassuring handling, and on twisty roads each is surprising fun.

Due to its compact size, the Hyundai is more of a genuine city car, but it finishes last here because the automatic gearbox harms performance and increases running costs. The i10 is still a top choice: spacious, affordable and backed up by a great warranty. It’s just that we prefer the manual.

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