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New models - Holden - Tigra - coupe-convertible

First drive: Tigra the pride of Lion

Lion cub: Tigra is new to Oz but its forebear dates back to 1994 in Europe.

Opel’s cracking new Tigra disembarks Down Under as Holden’s first hard-top convertible

23 Sep 2005

YET another new coupe-convertible will grace Australian roads from October, this time offering plenty of substance, refinement and a quality driving experience – as well as a smart set of clothes, a sub-$35,000 price tag and Holden badges.

More than a forecourt gimmick, Holden’s taut new baby - its first hardtop convertible - will draw an entirely new type of car buyer to the lion brand, but will also carry the light car can within Holden’s dwindling European-sourced model range.

The Barina-based, Opel-engineered and French-built two-seater follows last month’s new Astra Coupe as the latest convincing Euro-Holden to arrive here (and there’s an Astra SRi turbo to come in January), but goes on sale the same month the XC Barina hatch and AH Astra Classic are replaced by localised versions of the Daewoo Kalos and Lacetti respectively.

A four-seater hardtop convertible version of the popular TS Astra will eventually join Tigra – and succeed the successful AH Astra convertible – in Holden’s cabrio line-up, but by then the Zafira people-mover and mid-size Vectra are also likely to have been discontinued and/or replaced by South Korean-built General Motors models.

Of course, this is irrelevant to those in the market for a Tigra, which was launched 12 months ago in Europe as the second-generation Opel (Vauxhall in the UK) Tigra TwinTop to replace the successful original that attracted more than 240,000 sales since 1994.

Very much a niche model with valuable image-building potential for Holden, Tigra is forecast to find just 1000 homes annually – or around 11 per cent of a local convertible market that has grown from just over 2700 in 1993 to around 9500 last year and now comprises 19 brands, 40 models and sticker prices ranging from Daihatsu’s soon-to-be-discontinued $30,000 Copen to Lamborghini’s $669,000 Mucielago Roadster and even the $1.4 million Pagani Zonda Roadster.

As in Europe, where 30,000 examples have been sold in its first eight months on sale, Tigra will compete most directly with Peugeot’s 206CC, which is available with an 80kW 1.6-litre engine for $32,990 and a 100kW 2.0-litre for $39,990.

Like its $34,990 price, Tigra’s 90kW/165Nm (92kW with 95-octane PULP) 1.8-litre Ecotec four-cylinder engine – the same as that found in Barina SRi – falls between the two Pugs in terms of both performance and displacement. The Ecotec four is Euro4 emissions-compliant and consumes a claimed average of 7.8 litres per 100km of premium unleaded. Fuel capacity is 45 litres.

Hindering its sales here will be the lack of an automatic transmission, which was unavailable to Holden, leaving Tigra as a single five-speed manual proposition, albeit a highly specified one.

Measuring just 1370mm high, 3921mm long and with 1433mm front and 1424mm rear wheel tracks, Tigra rides on a 2491mm wheelbase but affords a relatively generous 936mm of headroom.

There’s just 147 litres of boot space available with the electrically operated folding steel roof down (a process that takes around 18 seconds), extending to 308 litres with it up and totalling 378 litres if you include the handy 70-litre compartment behind the seats.

13 center imageHolden makes a big deal about Tigra’s body stiffness, even quoting a sturdy 8859Nm/degree torsional rigidity figure, which is aided by substantial underfloor and rear bulkhead reinforcing plus bolted – not welded – body joints. All this increases the open-topped Barina’s kerb weight to a still-light 1248kg.

The smallest Opel backs this up with an extensive standard safety kit. Primary rollover protection is provided by beefed-up A-pillars, with decorative wave-shaped fixed hoops behind the seats playing a secondary role.

Other passive safety features include twin front airbags, twin side airbags and breakaway pedals, plus seatbelt pretensioners, force-limiters and height-adjusters, while active safety includes four-channel ABS, mechanical brake assist and 260mm vented front and 240mm solid rear brake discs.

There is no traction or stability control, and the steering wheel is adjustable for height only.

Holden says Tigra is fitted with sports-tuned dampers, a lower ride height, higher transverse-stiffness bushes and a reinforced front anti-roll bar, in concert with MacPherson front struts and a hydroformed rear torsion beam with trailing arms.

Apart from the added security and theft-resistance of a metal roof, there’s a lockable glovebox and two-stage remote central locking.

Standard equipment extends to 16 x 6.0-inch alloy wheels with 205/50 R16 tyres, air-conditioning, fog lights, cruise control, power windows and (heated) mirrors, four-speaker 80-watt Blaupunkt AM/FM/CD/MP3 sound system, a trip computer, central LCD information display, a leather-wrap steering wheel with audio controls, glass rear window with demister, sports alloy pedals, six-way adjustable sports seats, two-tone Alpha Mondial sports fabric trim, 15-inch steel spare wheel and a hydraulically-operated push-button boot open/close function.

Unfortunately, there's only one non-metallic paint colour (red) and metallic paint is a $300 option.

2006 Tigra pricing:

Tigra coupe-convertible $34,990

2006 Tigra options:

Metallic paint
17x6.5-inch five-spoke alloys
Windstop air deflector
Headlight guards
Licence plate frames
Tigra front floormats
Boot lip protector
Anti-zap jumper leads
First-aid kit
Safety triangle kit

Paint colours:Magma red
Antigua Bay blue (metallic)
Star silver (metallic)
Sapphire black (metallic)

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