Monday, April 22, 2013

Used Car Review - Opel Tigra (1998-2001)

Shall we find a toy car this summer? Myk Belmonte invites you for this game and before buying let's review one of the popular choices.

1998-2001 Opel Tigra

Locally, vehicles that do not have the capability of ferrying more than two people and does not have any turbo engines (making some sports cars an exemption) are poor performers in the sales charts. And there is a good reason for it, why spend something that can be useless? And with space being an issue nowadays, multi-purpose vehicles are now the choices of many buyers.

In a worldwide perspective and a marketing point of view, coupes and sports cars attract the buyer to the showroom. They may not need to be volume sellers, they are called niche vehicles. In the case of the Opel Tigra, it is not stratospherically priced and based on the pedestrian Corsa platform. It attracted a cult of owners but the new millennium saw the discontinuation. It was revived as a convertible in October 2004, only to be given the ax five years later.

GM Automobiles Pilipinas, who used to distribute Opels before, brought in the Tigra in 1998 after the launching of the Vectra and Omega sedans and wagons. This vehicle had a following, and a rare sight due to the fact it has two doors and less practical to own. It was removed in the line-up together with the world and a successor was never brought in.

Value and Costs
A convertible for summer? Maybe, but with the perils of owning one (such as maintaining the top) the Tigra becomes a sensible choice. While convertibles may command prices over 500k, the Opel would just cost you P250,000-P290,000. As I browse online selling sites, this is the Opel that costs a premium, due to the rarity over an Omega.

Items to inspect before signing the dotted line are the usual wear and tear components. But according to, the hatch area is an area of concern due to some leaks and the low slung bonnet for stone chips. Parts can be sourced in European specialist shops as well as online sources. Fuel efficiency is decent, so do not worry about it.

Exterior and Interior
The exterior design could draw some reactions ranging from the good down to the negative. The small length means it can weave through traffic and tight parking slots. It looks good, but if you have a tough guy image this is not the car for you.

If the outside is flashy, the interior is functional but boring. With the dashboard lifted from the Corsa, expect a utilitarian looking interior. But at this price point, I wouldn't complain besides this is one good looking car that I can take anywhere and wouldn't cost me a fortune to keep. For the people carrying capability, the front seats is comfortable enough for a pair but the rear is reserved for children or a single person in a sleeping position. Cargo carrying capacity is not a strength, especially for the airport run.

In Europe, you get a choice of 1.4 and 1.6 engine models for your Tigra. But in the Philippines, the latter arrived as the sole engine choice in the form of an Ecotec 1,598cc I4 that has 116hp at 6,000rpm and 148Nm at 4,000rpm. This engine is rev happy, and it will respond to your needs without drama.

Driving Impressions
Even though the under chassis are based on the Corsa, it does not feel like one when driven. Handling and ride quality are above average, and you feel everything that is happening underneath via the steering wheel. Grip is aplenty and attacks corners with aplomb. In fact, just find yourself an empty stretch of highway or a mountain road and you'll enjoy every driving moment.

A toy car no more no less. A car good for show than go, and better not to be in a hurry or have more than two passengers with you. It is a cruiser, not a highway bruiser.

The Good:
  • Cute
  • Appealing
  • Cheaper to buy now
The Bad:
  • Not practical
  • Not fast
  • Pedestrian interior
The Pick: A stock unit is the order of the day

Engine: 1,598cc Ecotec I4 gasoline
Power: 116hp @ 6,000rpm
Torque: 148Nm @ 4,000rpm
Fuel Consumption: 9-11km/L (city), 10-12km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic
Suspension: Front independent McPherson strut,  rear twist beam axle

Price (New): P800,000 (estimated)
Price (Now): P250,000-P295,000
Rivals: Hyundai Coupe, Mitsubishi Lancer GSR
On Sale: 1998-2001

Photos courtesy of

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