Used Vauxhall Tigra Coupe 1994 - 2001 review

Category: Coupé

Not bad looking, and cheap to run, but too small

Vauxhall Tigra Coupe (94 - 01)
  • Vauxhall Tigra Coupe (94 - 01)
  • Vauxhall Tigra Coupe (94 - 01)
Used Vauxhall Tigra Coupe 1994 - 2001 review
Star rating

What's the used Vauxhall Tigra coupe like?

Take a popular supermini, slap a sporty-looking body on it, and what have you got? The Vauxhall Tigra.

Back in 1994, this pint-sized coupe captured car buyers' attentions and the car sold in healthy numbers.

Overview

Not bad looking, and cheap to run, but too small

  • Cute looks and fun to drive
  • Everything's just a little too wee

Don't be fooled by those sporty looks and expect the Tigra to be that rapid, though - only 1.4- and 1.6-litre engines were available, with a maximum of 104bhp on tap. It's warm rather than hot and the ride is a little bumpy, but at least the handling is quite good.

Don't go thinking it's a real four-seater, either. Because head- and legroom are so restricted in the back, the Tigra is effectively a two-seater. Even in the front, things aren't that great - if you're tall, you might find that headroom is limited. And, everyone will find rear visibility poor and think the cabin has a very snug feel.

Boot space is only just acceptable, but you can fold down the rear bench to create a larger luggage bay.

Ownership cost

What used Vauxhall Tigra coupe will I get for my budget?

How much does it cost to run a Vauxhall Tigra coupe?

The Tirga is based on the Corsa, so parts availability isn't a problem, and, while Vauxhall dealers are plentiful and good value, an independent garage will be even cheaper. Service intervals are every 9000 miles on pre-'95 cars, and every 10,000 for those built after - pretty much par for the course.

Regular running costs aren't bad for a coupe. The 1.4-litre has an insurance grouping of 10, compared with the 1.6-litre's 13, so it'll be noticeably cheaper to insure. Fuel economy is good, too, with the 1.4 returning 36.8mpg and the 1.6 36.0mpg. The automatic manages 34.0mpg.

Buy the right car, and you shouldn't have to spend too much on unscheduled repairs. Warranty Direct puts the Tigra towards the middle of the sports car reliability table - but below the Tigra's biggest rival, the Ford Puma - with roughly 30% of all cars needing attention. The engine and axle and suspension produce the most claims, though, and these can be expensive to fix.

Our recommendations

Which used Vauxhall Tigra coupe should I buy?

With only two engines available, there isn't much choice. The 1.4 16v unit produces 89bhp, and the 1.6 16v gives 104bhp, but there isn't much different in performance between the two, so the 1.4 is a better buy, as it's cheaper to run.

That said, steer clear of any 1.4 car fitted with the optional four-speed auto 'box as it doesn't do anything for performance and dulls the overall drive. There was only a five-speed manual on the 1.6-litre.

When you're shopping, buy the latest car you can, especially one from after 1997, when Lotus tuned the suspension and improved the handling noticeably. What's more, throughout the car's life, the range was revised with ever-higher levels of kit as standard.

Finally, choose your colour carefully, as there were some unusual ones (such as a light metallic green) available when the car was new. These look strange today, so pick one that will ensure your car is easy to sell on for a good price.

Alternatives

What alternatives should I consider to a used Vauxhall Tigra coupe?