6 February 2004

Vauxhall’s new baby coupé-cabrio will bear the name Tigra, reviving a badge not seen since the old Corsa-based coupé was phased out four years ago. These first official pictures reveal the car’s dramatic shape ahead of its initial public outing at the Geneva Motor Show in March.

The Tigra will go on sale in early September at £13,500 for the 90bhp 1.4 and £15,000 for a 125bhp 1.8 – pitching it £1200 below its nearest rival, the popular Peugeot 206 CC.

With 0-60mph expected to take around 9.5sec and an estimated top speed of 118mph, the 1.8’s performance will be on a par with the 206 CC 1.6, but lag behind the more expensive 2.0-litre French model. Buyers craving the first affordable performance folding hard-top will have to wait for around two years before the 175bhp Tigra GSi arrives.

While it might not be the quickest in its class, at least the Tigra looks the part thanks to the efforts of Martin Smith’s design team. A short front end and long tail give a wedgy profile, with Vauxhall’s now-characteristic sharp creases in the nose and flanks. There are other neat touches such as the Lotus 340R-style aluminium roll hoops.

The two-piece roof is available with the rear section painted in body colour or contrasting silver – aping a similar option for Vauxhall VX220 hard-tops – to give the car a targa-top look.

The new Tigra sits on a modified version of the Meriva mini-MPV’s platform, incorporating additional parts from the Astra. Vauxhall claims the suspension tuning and handling were honed at the Nürburgring.

Power is sent to the front wheels through a five-speed manual gearbox, but expect a six-speed version in the turbocharged 1.6-litre GSi. Another powerplant currently under consideration is the Corsa’s high-output 1.3-litre 100bhp diesel, which would be a first for the class.

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The sporty theme continues inside, with drilled aluminium pedals and a Corsa-based dashboard enlivened by aluminium-look inserts and chrome-ringed dials. The car pictured also features two-tone seats – insiders confirm that the options list will feature a selection of bright and modern trim variations to try and attract younger buyers.

Vauxhall has decided to make the Tigra a strict two-seater – rather than a half-hearted 2+2 – in an effort to address criticism of the 206 CC’s meagre boot space when the roof is folded. As a result, the Tigra has 410 litres of luggage room with the roof up and an impressive 340 litres with the roof stowed.

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