A history lesson…
The original Vauxhall Tigra arrived in 1994 and stayed around until 2001. It was a great looking little coupe, built on standard Corsa underpinnings and none the worse for that. After a brief hiatus, the Tigra reappeared in 2004 and this time came with an extra party trick. Whereas the original car was a simple, if pretty, coupe, the newer model was a fully fledged convertible. More than this, it wasn't just any old rag top. It boasted a neat foldaway steel roof which disappeared into the boot in about 20 seconds. With a competitive price and decent build quality, it was small wonder the Tigra was such a hit.
Bang for your buck
With decent competitors in the shape of the Ford Streetka and Peugeot 206 CC, the topless Vauxhall Tigra had to work hard to get ahead and it did just that. The foldaway roof was streets ahead of the little Ford and the high quality cabin bested both of its competitors. The standard car featured wheel mounted audio switchgear, metallic fascia and tilt adjustable steering column. It was further loaded with 15" alloy wheels, CD stereo, anti-lock brakes and tight sports suspension. If you trade up to the Sports version those alloys inflate to 16" and you get front fogs, silver targa roof bar and remote control alarm. Inside the upgraded cabin is tricked out with aluminium pedals, leather trim sports steering wheel and an MP3 compatible stereo. Both models solved the old problem of the lack of boot space caused by the foldaway roof by simply removing the rear seats. Worth noting then that this is a two-seater.
What you'll pay
If you want to jump into one today, prices start at about £7,300 for a 05-plate1.4 Sport and that jumps to around £7,800 for the 1.3CDTi and about the same for the 1.8 petrol, again both in Sport trim on the 05 plate. With the original price differential between standard model and Sport being so small, most buyers went for the Sport pack and the generously upgraded equipment. So if you're looking for the standard model, you might find it a little scarce. The approved used Vauxhall Tigra for sale boasted an excellent safety and security rating and this is noted by the insurance companies who rate it at Group 8 for the 1.3 CDTi and Group 12 for the quick 1.8 Sport petrol variant.
What to check
The Tigra has worn remarkably well thanks to its excellent build quality and owners report few problems. Potential buyers might suck their teeth at possible problems with the foldaway steel roof, but this again has proved to be remarkably reliable. With so few issues, there's no reason why previous owners should have avoided the garage, so make sure you get a full service history and check those alloys for kerbing.
Taking our standard as a 05 plate 1.4 petrol, a new clutch will grasp around £90 from your wallet and a full exhaust will blow about £300. Front shocks will take £50 a pair and the rear around £35. Under the bonnet, an alternator is £115 and starter motor about £90. A new radiator will be about £115 and replacement windscreen a tad over £130. Expect to pay around £200 for a catalyst.
How it drives
The smaller 1.4 petrol engine is just about adequate, going from 0 to 60 in about 12.2 seconds and on to a top speed of 112 mph. The larger 1.8 is sharper at 9.2 seconds for 0 to 60 and tops out at 127 mph. Fuel economy is decent for both cars at 46.3 and 36.7 mpg respectively on the combined cycle. If you plump for the oil burner, you'll have to be a little patient, with the diesel taking 15.5 seconds to pootle up to 60mph. On the flipside, they do claim a shade over 60mpg average economy figure. On all variants, the performance is a little muted by lugging around all those electric motors which keep the roof functioning. You'll also notice a distinct change in handling with the roof down. With the roof in place the used Vauxhall Tigra feels taut and responsive. Once lowered however, there is a distinct dropping off of that pleasing tightness and the car feels a little soft.