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Opel Tigra TwinTop
Auto Africa preview

Broadcast dates : 24th October  2004
28th October 2004

It’s no accident that Opel’s pride of place on its stand at Auto Africa this year will be the Opel Tigra TwinTop.

As we mention in this week’s show in our report on the new Astra range, Opel is out to recreate its entire brand image.

And the Tigra is another example of a new air of fun and excitement prevailing in the Opel works in Russelsheim, Germany.

The group’s dynamic chairman Carl Peter Foster, who once headed up BMW’s South African plant, says that models like the Tigra will make up as much as 20 per cent of Opel’s model mix in the near future.

The Tigra Twin Top made its public debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March this year, where it was named "Cabrio of the Year for 2004" by an international panel of judges.

The car went on sale in Europe last month and it is expected to make its South African debut early next year.

What has impressed automotive experts more than anything about the Tigra is the way it combines practicality, open-air motoring and an attractive shape in one compact package.

Measuring just under 4 metres in length, the two-seater Tigra provides an astonishing luggage capacity of over 500 litres.

This is thanks to its unique top-folding mechanism, which employs what Opel describes as "space-saving folding kinematics". The top folds vertically behind the passenger compartment and splits into two sections once the folding operation begins.

Hence the sub-title of the Tigra – Twin Top.

Each piece of the Tigra’s top folds in concert with one another, rather than in the sandwich pattern employed by some other manufacturers.

In this way Opel says it has avoided the "fat rump" look which afflicts certain other models in this class.

The rear section of the top can be ordered in a contrasting colour if desired, emphasizing the twin-top look.

At the heart of the Tigra is the Opel Corsa chassis which has been modified to suit the two-seater bodywork. The body sits some 5 mm lower at the front and 20 mm lower at the rear on re-designed suspension, when compared to the Corsa. And the track is 28 mm wider at front and rear, giving the Tigra a more squat, purposeful stance than its hatchback progenitor.

The Tigra makes no pretensions of being anything other than a pure two-seater. But its luggage capacity will astound sports cabrio customers used to packing a toothbrush and a pair of socks for the weekend.

When the top is folded down there is a deep compartment measuring 250 litres, and this expands to over 440 litres when the top is erected.

In addition there is 70 litres of stowage space in compartments behind the seats, with useful retaining netting to stop things sliding around.

The top mechanism is a one-touch operation via a button, and so is the boot lid.

When the Tigra went on sale in Europe in September it was offered with two engines a 1,4-litre Twin Port engine known for its lean-burn economy and good consumption and the same 92-kilowatt 1,8-litre motor used in the new Astra.

The model expected for the South African market will have the more powerful engine, as in this market cabriolets are expected to go some as well as look good.

Both engine options come standard with a five-speed gearbox transmitting power to the front wheels.

The cabin looks to be reasonably well-appointed if not breathtakingly exciting. There are sports seats that are height-adjustable, chrome embellishers for the dials and chrome look rods connecting the consol to the transmission tunnel – all about what you’d expect on cars like this these days.

Front and side airbags are standard while air-conditioning is an option.

On the safety front there is ABS, ESP and Brake Assist, while the 17-inch alloy wheels shown are an optional extra.

That is in Europe, while in South Africa, no one would consider ordering a car like this with Plain Jane steel wheels!

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