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First look: Holden considers drop-top baby

Stytlish: The Tigra TwinTop is built in France for General Motors by independent coachbuilder Heuliez.

Holden Barina-based steel-roofed convertible is due for a Geneva motor show launch

2 Feb 2004

HOLDEN could join the steel-roof convertible set in 2005 with this funky drop-top two-seater.

Called the Tigra TwinTop in Europe, it will be unveiled in the metal at the Geneva motor show in early March, before a late northern summer on-sale.

Despite its looks that evoke the latest Astra - which goes on-sale in Australia in October - the TwinTop is actually based on the Barina light car.

If it were to go on-sale in Australia, the TwinTop would line up against the likes of the $29,990 Daihatsu Copen and $35,990 Peugeot 206CC. Soon to arrive are the bigger Renault Megane CC and Peugeot 307CC, which will be around $50,000.

"We will have a look at it when it comes out in Europe," confirmed a Holden spokesman.

The TwinTop is powered by a choice of 66kW 1.4-litre and 92kW 1.8-litre four-cylinder engines in Europe. A five-speed manual gearshift is standard.

The key feature of the car is the electro-hydraulic retractable steel roof that opens and closes automatically at the touch of a button, folding almost vertically into a shaft between the cabin and the boot.

Tigra will be produced in France by the coachbuilder Groupe Henri Heuliez S.A, which built the 206CC for Peugeot. That association ended because of reliability problems with the roof, something Heuliez says will not be repeated this time round.

Inside the TwinTop’s cockpit there are two-tone bucket seats as standard, chrome-ringed instruments and aluminium touches, including two aluminium-coloured strips that connect the centre console and transmission tunnel.

The aerodynamic profile of the unusually shaped, aluminium roll hoop is another design feature.

Luggage space is 440 litres with the roof up, dropping to 250 litres with it lowered.

GM will also launch a CC version of the new Astra in Europe via Opel and Vauxhall, while the hard-core VX Lightning is a third part of the car giant’s convertible aspirations. The Astra CC should eventually come here while the Lightning is a chance if it is approved for production.

The Tigra name comes from a coupe sold in Europe during the mid to late 1990s.

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