Vauxhall / Opel Tigra TwinTop (B: 2004–2009)

Used, blue Opel Tigra TwinTop on OEM alloy wheels, hardtop convertible with the roof closed

The Tigra TwinTop was produced by General Motors and sold under three brand names – Opel in Europe, Vauxhall in the UK and Holden in Australia.

 

Reliability & common problems

This section covers the potential reliability problems that you might have with the Tigra TwinTop. Click on the buttons below to read more about typical issues that fall outside of the scope of routine maintenance.

Complex hardtop roof

The retractable hardtop roof is put in motion by hydraulic actuators powered by a hydraulic pump.

Your two biggest concerns are hydraulic system issues (mainly leaks) and weather intrusion (fancy name for a leaking roof).

The things to check regarding the roof are:

  • Check for any dampness in the footwells and carpets. Also, check in the boot underneath the spare wheel. It’s best to do it after rainfall.

  • Open and close the roof a couple times to make sure that it works.

  • Check the condition of the roof seals. Ideally, they should be lubricated regularly – ask the previous owner about it.

  • Look for hydraulic fluid leaks – in the boot and around the hydraulic rams.

  • Get the car up to 60 mph with the roof closed and listen for excessive wind noise.

  • Listen for rattling noises while driving with the roof closed.

  • Take the car to a high pressure (touchless) car wash and see if any water gets inside the cabin or the boot.

  • Accident-free history is very important for any hardtop convertible. If the car participated in a large crash, the roof may be out of alignment, which can make it a nightmare to waterproof if the chassis of the car isn’t “straight” anymore.

Along with the hydraulic system, there is plenty of electronics to manage the roof on the Tigra Twin Top. These cars are getting old and sometimes the roof can be a bit fussy (usually small issues though).

A word of warning: If you’re not into DIY and you’re not willing to understand how the roof mechanism operates, you may pay for servicing more than you need to.

The roof on the Tigra is complex and some small things may at some point require fixing or adjusting. If you can’t diagnose or repair these little things yourself, trying to get the roof sorted out at a car repair shop may be expensive.

Easytronic transmission failure

The Easytronic is an automated manual transmission. While I’m not a fan of this technology, the Easytronic is one of the better automated gearboxes used in mass-produced cars.

The gears and the clutch are operated by three electric motors. There are no hydraulics (apart from the master & slave clutch cylinders), which makes this transmission simpler and more reliable than Fiat’s Dualogic/Selespeed automated gearboxes.

The Easytronic is pretty much the same thing as the Durashift EST transmission used in the Ford Fiesta Mk5. Both gearboxes have nearly identical clutch actuators and gear selector motors (just in a slightly different arrangement to accommodate different manual gearboxes).

While the Easytronic is a light-weight and efficient gearbox, do not expect it to be as smooth as a conventional automatic transmission because it doesn’t have a torque converter to cushion the gear changes. It is, after all, a manual gearbox with actuators attached to it.

When buying and test driving a car with the Easytronic gearbox, look out for the symptoms of malfunction:

  • Flashing “N”  or “F” letter appearing on the dashboard instead of the gear number

  • Car refusing to start (blown brake light bulbs may cause this too)

  • Clunking noises when changing gears

  • Excessively hard gear changes

  • A sensation that the clutch is slipping (worn clutch)

  • Juddering when taking off from a standstill

  • Car dropping out of gear while driving

  • Car refusing to engage gear when trying to take off from a standstill

While the Easytronic is reasonably reliable, below are the two things that you should know before buying a used Tigra TwinTop with this transmission.

I. If the transmission fails, you will have a problem (unless you can fix stuff yourself).

The Easytronic uses brushed electric motors to operate the gearbox.

The brushes in these motors will eventually wear out, and the transmission will stop working – it’s one of the most common reasons for Easytronic failures. Replacing the brushes is fairly easy and inexpensive if you can do it yourself, or when you find someone experienced with these transmissions. They aren’t common though, so it may not be that easy.

If you go to the dealership instead, they will most likely offer to replace one of the actuators for something like £1000. If they don’t replace the right component the first time, there goes another £1000.

Trying to fix a faulty Easytronic box is often expensive, which is the norm for automated and dual-clutch transmissions. This is unless you can diagnose problems yourself or know a garage that’s experienced with these transmissions and can fix the actual problem (as opposed to replacing half of the transmission). They are actually fairly simple once you understand how they work.

 

II. The Easytronic has a standard dry clutch, which is a consumable item, just like in any manual transmission.

The Easytronic cannot creep like a traditional automatic transmission because it doesn’t have a torque converter. Taking off and crawling at very low speeds is achieved by partial clutch engagement (slipping), which makes it wear.

Don’t treat it like a regular automatic gearbox because it’s not. You should always let the clutch engage fully in 1st gear when you are crawling in traffic. Also, don’t use the gas pedal to stop the car from rolling backwards on an incline.

1.8 125 PS – timing belt (Z18XE engines)

The original timing belt replacement interval for the 125 PS 1.8L Z18XE engine was 60,000 miles. At some point, Vauxhall revised their recommendation to 40,000 miles, most likely because of a high number of failures. So, check if your car isn’t due for a timing belt replacement!

If you are planning to buy a Vauxhall / Opel Tigra Twin Top with the Z18XE engine, establish when the cambelt was last replaced.

As for the newer 1.8L 140 PS Z18XER, the timing belt replacement interval is 100,000 miles or 10 years according to Vauxhall. This is quite optimistic, but I don’t have any concrete evidence to contest this number. Personally, I would not keep the original timing belt this long in any car. The life of the engine depends on this piece of rubber.

I’ll leave this to you to decide. The main difference in terms of design is that the Z18XER has the water pump driven by the auxiliary belt and not by the timing belt like in the Z18XE.

1.3 CDTi  – timing chain wear

The 1.3 CDTi was an engine designed by Fiat and General Motors (mostly Fiat) when the two companies formed a partnership. It’s not a bad unit since Fiat is the godfather of Common Rail diesel engines. In Fiat cars, this engine is known as the 1.3 Multijet. “Multijet” stands for multiple fuel injections per combustion cycle.

The only major problem with this little engine is the timing chain.

The camshaft in this engine is driven by a single row timing chain not much bigger than a bicycle chain. In my opinion, it’s not a very robust design and an area to watch.

Generally, when a timing chain is used, the intention is for it to last the “lifetime” of the engine (very roughly 200k miles). Therefore, there is no replacement interval specified for the timing chain. As I see it, trying to reach 200k miles on the original chain and tensioner is very risky.

If the chain wears and elongates (stretches), or the tensioner stops working properly, the typical symptom that develops is a chain rattle that lasts for a couple seconds after a cold start. In severe cases, the chain noise may remain for longer after the engine has started. The “Check Engine” light may appear too.

Here’s what timing chain noise sounds like:

 

Any chain stretch symptoms should not be ignored in the 1.3 CDTi, regardless of the mileage. If the timing chain jumps some teeth, you will be looking at valvetrain damage. You may choose to replace the timing chain preemptively like you would with a timing belt, or you can wait until symptoms develop.

In my opinion, engines that have done more than 100k miles will probably qualify for a full timing chain service (new timing chain, guides, tensioner and gears).

If you are looking to get one of these cars, make sure there is no chain rattle after starting the engine. This needs to be a cold start when the car has stood still for a couple hours (ideally overnight). If the chain rattle is persistent, it means the chain or the tensioner is on its last leg.

Summary of problems & additional information

  • The Vauxhall/Opel Tigra Twintop is a fun, little convertible. It is the little brother of the Astra TwinTop.

  • While the folding hardtop roof is relatively complex, it is still a lot simpler than the roof on the Astra TwinTop (two-piece vs three-piece roof).

  • All three engines available in the Tigra Twin Top are good choices. Just, make sure that there are no symptoms of timing chain problems when buying a 1.4L petrol or 1.3L diesel Tigra.

  • The original timing belt replacement interval for the 1.8L petrol engine (Z18XE) is too optimistic. I recommend replacing the timing belt every 40,000 miles in this engine to be safe.

  • Tigra’s interior design comes from the Vauxhall / Opel Corsa C, which is a bit dated.

  • As for the Easytronic transmission, it’s not bad but it might be expensive to fix when it fails because it isn’t common. Not many garages have experience working with them, and going to the dealership with a faulty Easytronic gearbox will most likely result in a large bill.

  • Follow this link for an article that might help you decide if a Common Rail diesel engine, like the 1.3 CDTi, is the right choice for you.

  • The Fiat 1.3 MultiJet… I mean the 1.3 CDTi may develop problems with the timing chain in higher-mileage cars.

  • The 1.3 CDTi in the Opel / Vauxhall Tigra did not have a diesel particulate filter (DPF).

 

Vauxhall / Opel Tigra TwinTop specifications

This section contains Vauxhall / Opel Tigra TwinTop specifications. You will also find technical information regarding the engines used in these cars. Press the buttons below to display the specs and engine technical details.

Petrol engines – specs & performance figures

ModelDisplacementPowerTorqueComments
1.4 TwinPort1364 cm³ / 83.2 cu in90 PS / 66 kW125 Nm / 92 lbf⋅ftEngine code: Z14XEP
1.81796 cm³ / 109.6 cu in125 PS / 92 kW165 Nm / 122 lbf⋅ftEngine code: Z18XE

Diesel engines – specs & performance figures

ModelDisplacementPowerTorqueComments
1.3 CDTi1248 cm³ / 76.2 cu in70 PS / 51 kW170 Nm / 125 lbf⋅ftEngine code: Z13DT

Petrol engines – technical details

EngineEngine config.Forced inductionValve timingFuel deliveryDMFInlet flaps
Legend:DOHC - Double Overhead Camshaft
EFI - Electronic Fuel Injection
DMF - Dual-mass Flywheel
1.4L Twinport: Z14XEP Inline-4, 16 valvesNoTiming chain, DOHCPort injection (EFI)NoYes (Twinport)
1.8L: Z18XEInline-4, 16 valvesNoTiming belt, DOHCPort injection (EFI)NoNo

Diesel engines – technical details

EngineEngine config.Forced inductionValve timingInjection systemDMFDPFSwirl flaps
Legend:DOHC - Double Overhead Camshaft
DPF - Diesel Particulate Filter
DMF - Dual-mass Flywheel
1.3L CDTi: Z13DTInline-4, 16 valvesTurboTiming chain, DOHCCommon RailYesNoNo

 

Vauxhall / Opel Tigra TwinTop wheel sizes

Press the button below to see the original equipment manufactuer (OEM) rim & tyres sizes for the Vauxhall / Opel Tigra TwinTop. These are the original wheel sizes that were fitted by the manufacturer.

TyresRimsCentre BoreBolt PatternComments
185/55 R156Jx15 ET4356.6mm4x100Steel rims, winter tyres
185/60 R156.5Jx15 ET3556.6mm4x100
205/50 R166Jx16 ET4156.6mm4x100
205/45 R17 6.5JX17 ET4156.6mm4x100

 

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