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First drive Vauxhall Tigra – on sale September



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With the introduction of the Tigra, Vauxhall has now got a range of sporty cars to tempt all but the most affluent of user choosers and perk drivers.

Set for a return to the showrooms in September, and boasting significant advances over the original budget-priced sportster that ended a six-year production run in 2000, the new slingshot supermini will rival the market-leading Peugeot 206CC with keener pricing to go with its strong kerbside appeal and an automatic retractable steel roof that opens and closes at the touch of a button.

With its VX220 sports car and Australian-built Monaro high-performance coupe, Britain’s most popular business car provider has already laid the foundations for a series of niche products to raise its image as it battles with Ford for market leadership.

But projected annual sales of around 5,500 units look likely to turn the Tigra into the company’s best bet yet for additional volume in a sector likely to account for 70,000 top-down registrations this year.

Targeted to appeal to the young and young at heart, the Tigra’s two-seat layout blends chic lines with a total luggage capacity of more than 500 litres – the biggest in its class when the electro-hydraulically-operated metal top is in place. When the roof is stowed out of sight, the boot still provides 250 litres of capacity, plus another 70 litres of space behind the seats.

Assembled by Heuliez, the French coachbuilder, the Tigra puts unique bodywork on the Corsa platform to achieve a stunning appearance and attract new customers to Vauxhall – 70% of them female.

A snappy looker from any angle, it has a broad stance, short overhangs , a wave-shaped aluminium roll bar and clear-glass headlights with cylindrical lamps set in a distinctive 3D design.

Chrome-ringed instruments with black dials underline the sporty character of the car, which will come in two trim levels with the choice of 1.4 or 1.8-litre petrol engines. A 1.3-litre diesel is being considered.

Standard equipment includes 15-inch alloys, height-adjustable seats and steering wheel, power windows, heated mirrors, a glazed rear window and four airbags. Sport trim adds 16-inch alloys, two-tone sport seats, leather steering wheel and aluminium pedals. Options include air-con, OBC, cruise and a leather pack with heated seats.

Behind the wheel

Based on Corsa GSi underpinnings, the Tigra is sophisticated on the move, with positive roadholding and neat manners at all speeds.

Ultimately, the 1.8-litre version offers most thrills, but the 1.4-litre model is so willing and free-revving that it’s the better value buy.

Sports Chassis versions of the Tigra will be introduced next spring as GM steps up its bid to win a greater share of Britain’s booming coupe cabriolet market.

There’s no indication of how much extra the modifications will cost - but buyers should think twice before placing an order because this is a little sparkler in standard trim. Watch out Peugeot.

Prices: £13,750 to 15,250
Engines: 1.4-litre 90bhp, 1.8-litre 125bhp petrol
Transmission: 5spd manual
Performance: 12.4sec, 112mph/ 9.4sec,127mph
Efficiency: 46.3mpg/36.7mpg combined. 146/185g/km CO2
Rivals: 206CC, StreetKa, Megane CC

Driven: Vauxhall Astra GTC 2.0 CDTi SRi

Two door handles and a roof aerial are the only bodywork items the GTC has in common with other Vauxhall Astras.

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