HOLDEN has copped a thumping for its decision to stop selling the Monaro, but there`s not a lot they can do.
The spiralling cost of fuel means very few people will see fit to fork out for a V8, let alone one that is more about nostalgia than its practicality.
Enter the Tigra - the hardtop two-seater roadster that might just become the new-age hero car.
There`s no doubt the thing has some pulling power. Men and women alike stop, turn, stare, ogle, sigh, coo, whistle, drool ... OK maybe not drool, but it certainly creates some attention.
Tigras carefully tuned design is the result of a partnership between Holdens German GM affiliate, Opel, and master French coachbuilder Heuliez. It won the "Cabrio of the Year 2004 at the Geneva Motor Show so it even has some silverware to make it officially sexy.
Obviously this is not built for the family. In fact, you`d have to be pretty close to whoever you chose for the second seat as well because it`s quite cosy in the cabin.
After releasing two catches in the cabin, the hardtop roof stows away in 18 seconds in a really cool mechanical feat. Also novel in its operation is the boot.
It works via a button that you push and the mechanics open and close the lid for you. It`s quite cool the first couple of times but we suspect the novelty might wear thin after a while.
You wouldn`t want to be a golfer because the boot space is all but consumed by the space to store the hardtop when you go sans roof. Then again, leave your passenger at home and put the clubs in the seat instead.
There is some clever interior space created behind the front seats of about 70 litres - to you and me that`s large enough for a big briefcase - or maybe a carton beer (cans, not stubbies) at a push.
It also comes in manual format only - so it might rule out a few potential buyers as well - but this gets a huge thumbs-up from this scribe - it would be criminal to have an auto in this.
The Tigra is powered by the 1.8 litre ECOTEC four-cylinder engine and is ample for most occasions, although Monaro-lovers will miss more than just the burble of their V8s with just 92kW on tap when on Premium Unleaded. You lose another 2kW and a little fuel efficiency on ULP.
Safety features include driver, passenger and side airbags, ABS and a brake assist function that reduces braking distance in an emergency braking situation.
Other inclusions are sports suspension, cruise control, power steering, "one touch" power windows, a Blaupunkt CD player, tilt-adjustable leather-wrap steering wheel with audio controls, sports seats with two-tone trim, heated power mirrors, heated glass rear window, fog lamps and air conditioning.
As well as looking great, the Tigra has some pretty impressive road manners. It is quite nimble due to its size, but has terrific roadholding and loves to be thrown through a few corners.
Smart 16-inch five-spoke alloy wheels (steel spare) and muscular wheel arches accentuate Tigras sports car stance and its distinctive jewelled headlamps are completed by equally striking wrap-around rear lamps. Further stand-out features include a wave-shaped aluminium bar behind the head rests and a distinctive sports trim.
It comes in Magma Red, Antigua Bay Blue (metallic), Star Silver (metallic) and Black Sapphire (metallic).
For mine, the Tigra is just a little on the small side, even for a roadster, and will have quite a limited audience considering Australia`s love of a big Holden.
But as far as a new-age hero car for the General goes, the Tigra certainly is something different and an all-round winner in my book.