First it was a hatchback, then a sedan and later a mini pickup. Now General Motors Corp. is adding a coupe to its lineup of Corsa-based models in Mexico, hoping the sporty addition will put some shine to Chevrolet's image there.

Aside from the bow tie badge, the Chevy Tigra, which General Motors de Mexico S.A de C.V. is importing from GM's Zaragoza, Spain, plant, has few modifications from the Opel Tigra sold in Europe.

However, the coupe only is offered fully loaded in Mexico, including front air bags, antilock brakes, aluminum wheels, air conditioning, power windows and a six-speaker compact disc/stereo. Standard are a 1.6L, 104-hp, 16-valve 4-cyl. and 5-speed manual transaxle. There are no immediate plans to offer an automatic.

GM hopes its ad campaign, “Provocatively Tigra,” will stimulate the interest of young cosmopolitan car buyers. However, with a tag of just under $20,000, it may be a hard sell.

Ford Motor Co. de Mexico CV's Escort ZX2 has experienced some success in the compact sports car market — a segment new to Mexico. Although a similarly equipped ZX2 is about $1,000 more than the Tigra, base models start at about $13,000, including a cash discount now being offered.

Within the GM line, which sells Cadillac, Pontiac and Chevrolet under one roof in Mexico, the Tigra is positioned slightly below the Sunfire GT, which costs about the same as a fully loaded ZX2.

“There is nothing else in this segment,” Adrian Andrade, a salesman at a Mexico City dealer, says of the Tigra. “The closest thing is probably the New Beetle.”

Image and compact size are two of the strengths that GM marketers are banking on. Although GM has not released sales projections for the car, the potential is small given that the entire niche of compact sport coupes is only 15,000 units per year.

With limited sales prospects, the Tigra is aimed at giving the Chevy line in Mexico — viewed as strictly an entry-level brand — a more cutting-edge, sporty image.

“With the market strong in the U.S. and rebounding in Mexico a lot of companies are focusing on strengthening the brand image of vehicles,” says Lincoln Merrihew, an auto analyst with Standard and Poor's DRI. “The Tigra might do that for Chevrolet in Mexico.”