As already suggested, the upright, boxy stance creates far more interior space than you'd find in a conventional European citycar. So much in fact that you could even see your Agila as a kind of tiny MPV People Carrier. This of course assumes you're not travelling four-up (in which case there's only a paltry 8.7cuft - or 248 litres - of luggage space). With the rear bench unoccupied however and the 50/50 split back seats folded flat, that area can be increased five-fold to 1250 litres. There's plenty of oddments space too, with drawers under the front seats, cup and bottle holders and knee-height shelves for both front passengers.
All that said, it's as well to remember how narrow this car is before you go making any grand plans for long journeys. The rear bench is so narrow that there isn't even a centre seatbelt. On the plus side, passengers sit 83mm higher than they would in a Corsa, so there's excellent visibility through the vast glass area. This incidentally, makes air-conditioning a very desirable option (as you'll discover on a hot day), so it's a pity you can only specify it on the 1.2-litre model.
Just one trim level is being offered but it's reasonably comprehensive. Power steering, electric mirrors, an engine immobiliser, tinted glass, body-coloured bumpers and mirrors, a radio cassette player and Vauxhall's excellent dash-top information display all come as standard. Central locking and deadlocks would have been nice - but you have to specify an extra cost 'Comfort Pack' to get them (along with power front windows). There's also an 'Exterior Plus Pack' with alloy wheels and front foglamps.
Safety is a justifiable concern with cars like this: some of the Japanese citycar alternatives don't inspire much confidence as to their crashworthiness. The Agila is different however, with a safety-first design culture that goes much deeper than simply having a driver's airbag as standard. A maximum NCAP impact-test score is predicted thanks to ideas like a clever system that pulls the pedals away from your feet in a smash. There are also height-adjustable seat belts that limit the force exerted on passengers' chests, even in a minor crash. Anti-lock brakes and a front passenger airbag are optional.
The Agila is a surprisingly durable little car. The 1.0-litre version isn't particularly adept at motorway work, so many have quite low mileages. That's not to say they won't have suffered much wear and tear: the twin demands of city driving and ferrying kids around is an acid test if ever there was one. Check the interiors for signs of damage to fittings, rips or stains on the upholstery and damage in the load bay caused by bulky objects (the seat backs are rather vulnerable). Check tyre wear and also the condition of the exhaust, and make sure all gears engage cleanly and do not jump out. Otherwise insist on a service record and buy with confidence.
(approx based on a 2000 1.0-litre Agila) Consumables prices for the Agila are comfortingly modest. Expect to pay around £8 for an air filter, £15 for a fuel filter and £4 for a spark plug.
Since you may not be expecting too much in terms of road-roading excitement, it's likely that you'll be pleasantly surprised by the way the Agila handles. You'll be genuinely impressed by the car's responsive power steering, agile change of direction and lack of body roll. Sixty is around 13 seconds away from rest in the 1.2-litre model on the way to a maximum of close to 100mph, so motorway travel is well within this Vauxhall's remit. It gets a bit noisy in the upper reaches of the rev range however, so you won't want to be undertaking too many inter-city trips. Nevertheless, the 1.2 differentiates itself from its smaller engined sibling as a car that can be used long distance rather than one where motorway work is a constant white-knuckle struggle.
More important for potential buyers will be the Agila's urban behaviour - an area in which it's predictably impressive. The car will turn through 180 degrees in less than 10 metres - which should prove useful in multi-storey car parks and in tight streets. Fuel economy meanwhile, is of course very good - though you won't gain much by opting for the smaller 1.0-litre engine in this respect. Both units should return around 40mpg in ordinary day-to-day use. Maintenance costs are also going to be very low.
Unless you plan to use the car solely for short-distance work in the urban sprawl and crawl, try to stretch for a 1.2-litre model. The added flexibility makes driving far easier. You may have to search quite hard to find the car you like, as there aren't too many used Agilas about and the Network Q Scheme may be your best bet. Although it may be damning it with faint praise, it's a truism that the Agila is better than it looks. The margin by which may well surprise you.