General Motors Europe's redesigned Agila, designed and built with Suzuki, and which made its world debut at the Frankfurt show, will go on sale from early spring 2008 and will have a fully automatic gearbox for the first time.

"It's a proper automatic, not a CVT or semi-auto, with a 1.2 litre engine which we didn't have on the previous Agila. I think it will give us great growth potential," said Sara Nicholson, marketing manager for mini and small cars at GM Europe.

Despite sales of 440,000 across Europe, the previous Agila was a model that was always overlooked at both Vauxhall and Opel, she said. The UK was its third best market after Italy and Germany.

"We do have a lot of loyal customers so we have kept the best bits like the high seating position, the headroom and the space but given it better ride and handling. We've also designed it with broader appeal - it now looks more like a member of the family with Corsa and Astra styling clues," said Ms Nicholson.

Like the previous model, the latest Agila was developed in conjunction with small car specialist Suzuki and will be built at the Japanese automaker's factory in Hungary.

"The interiors of both the Suzuki Splash and our Agila are similar - we use different trim fabrics - but the exterior shows a different design language," Nicolson said.