General Motors Europe is continuing cooperation with Suzuki for its latest Opel/Vauxhall-badged entry-level Agila.


The 2008 model will be built in Hungary on the same platform as the larger Swift. Suzuki’s version, which resembles the Japanese market MR Wagon launched last year (also made on an OEM basis as the Nissan Moco) but is an entirely new model, will be called the Splash.


The previous Agila was a version of the Suzuki Type-R and was a boxy five-door wagon. Initially the two automakers offered their own engines and built their cars in separate plants (GM in Poland) but there was a mid-life rationalisation to GME power units.


The new models – with the Suzuki version now called the Splash – are more stylish five-door hatchbacks with some styling similarities, especially at the rear, to the shared Citroen/Peugeot/Toyota entry-level models made in the Czech Republic.


The new Opel/Vauxhall/Suzuki cars make their global debut at the Frankfurt show in September and will be launched in spring 2008. Five doors and five seats will be standard and luggage space is large enough, Vauxhall claims, “to embarrass cars in the class above”.


The tall roofline provides an airy, spacious feel and allows a high seating position, making it easy to get in and out of the car and ensure good visibility even in heavy urban traffic. The car is 1.6 metres high, 3.7 metres long and 1.7 metres wide.


Rear seat backs can be folded down to create a completely flat load floor and luggage capacity of 1150 litres is said to be the best in the sector.


The Agila and Splash will offer three new engines with an automatic gearbox available for the first time. The two petrol units are expected to be the top sellers at GME; a 1.0-litre three-cylinder with 65PS and a 1.2-litre four-cylinder with 86PS. The larger unit is available with an automatic gearbox, an option which is expected to be popular with urban buyers.


The new diesel is expected to be the top choice for the economy and environment-conscious. The 1.3-litre CDTi, as already seen in GME’s new larger Corsa line, delivers 75PS.


Vauxhall will sell the Agila in the UK with four airbags, as well as an optional electronic stability program (ESP). Suzuki will offer up to six.


With the Splash, Suzuki said it intends to gain a significant market share in this growing market segment in Europe.


“The new flexible compact car combines the sportiness of Suzuki’s successful model Swift with the technologies and immense know-how of the Japanese world market leader in the mini car segment,” the automaker said.


“The Splash is not the successor of any specific former Suzuki model, but a brand-new concept to satisfy the needs of demanding European customers in terms of roominess, compactness, modern design, aerodynamics, quality, driveability, performance and environmental friendliness.


Suzuki will offer the same engines as GME. The petrol units were both developed by the Japanese automaker and the diesel engine will be produced at its plant in India under licence from GM Powertrain Europe.


Suzuki aims to sell up to 60,000 units per year of the Splash in Europe.


Production is by subsidiary company Magyar Suzuki Corporation in Hungary.