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Opel Tigra Twin Top

Opel Tigra Twin Top

Daewoo Nubira Station Wagon

Daewoo Nubira Station Wagon

Saab 1.9 TiD

Saab 1.9 TiD

GM's European Triple Play

Opel Tigra Twin Top "Proportions are a challenge with a retractable hardtop," says Wayne Holger, assistant chief designer, Opel Tigra Twin Top, but it wasn't the only challenge the development team faced.

Opel Tigra Twin Top

"Proportions are a challenge with a retractable hardtop," says Wayne Holger, assistant chief designer, Opel Tigra Twin Top, but it wasn't the only challenge the development team faced. Maximum trunk space is another problem, which was solved by making the Tigra a two-seater, not a 2+2. Research showed a 2+2 isn't that useful every day, so space was reapportioned to allow stowing the top without eliminating luggage capacity. There is 2.5 ft3 of carrying space in the cabin behind the seats, 15.5 ft3 in the trunk when the top is up, and a reasonable 8.8 ft3 when it is down. Which makes the Twin Top useful as well as sporty.

A modified Opel Corsa GSi chassis with high-strength steel inserts in the doors, rockers, and behind the seats is the base for the Tigra. Built in Cerizay, France, by coachbuilder Heuliez, the Twin Top boasts an electro-hydraulic top mechanism that goes from open to closed in 18 seconds. The trunk lid also is powered electro-hydraulically. Heuliez is contracted to build up to 50,000 units annually, or about one-third the volume expected in the segment in Europe in 2005.

Power comes from GM's 1.4- and 1.8-liter EcoTec four cylinders, though the 125-hp 1.8 mated to the standard five-speed manual is best for pulling the 2,789-lb Tigra around. Well-equipped models sell for around C20,000, which includes a 16% value-added tax. Which means the Tigra would be a bargain if it ever showed up on these shores.

 

Daewoo Nubira Station Wagon

 

The Daewoo name lives in Europe as part of the agreement governing GM's purchase of the struggling South Korean automaker, but will eventually be replaced by the Chevy brand. In the interim, new vehicles based on existing Daewoo models get the Daewoo badge, like the new Nubira wagon.

GM boasts that the new wagon has above-average interior room, a cargo capacity of up to 50 ft3 (seats down), and the choice of two four-cylinder engines: a 109-hp 1.6-liter and a 122-hp 1.8-liter. Both are 16-valve engines. The real hook is the value for the money. Standard equipment includes tinted windows, a radio antenna embedded in the windshield, front power windows, CD player and RDS radio. Move up to the SX and you add air conditioning, adjustable interval wipers, and driver's seat lumbar support. The top-line CDX adds automatic climate control, power front and rear windows, rain sensor and a five-CD player for about C16,900.

 

Saab 1.9 TiD

 

If you don't have a diesel-powered vehicle in Europe, you're missing out on nearly 50% of the market. Saab had a 2.2-liter diesel, but it was marginal on meeting the 2006 Euro 4 emission standards. Enter GM-Fiat Powertrain. Its 1.9-liter inline four-cylinder design comes in two versions: an eight-valve, 120-hp base engine and a sixteen-valve,150-hp unit. Both are designed to produce 90% of available torque between 1,750 and 3,250 rpm, meet the new emission standards, and significantly raise Saab's penetration in the premium diesel segment in Europe.

The engines have a cast iron block, alloy heads, steel crankshaft and connecting rods, dual-mass flywheel, cast aluminum intake, a variable-vane Garrett turbocharger, and common rail injection running at 1,600 Bar. Just aft of the close-coupled catalyst sits a particulate filter and secondary oxidation catalyst. The filter is a honeycomb of silicon carbide that is regenerated approximately every 1,000 km via a short burst of overfueling. This raises temperatures in the trap to 600°, which burns off the trapped particulates.