Tiger/ Cirrus

If you own or have owned both a Tiger and an SR-20, how do you compare them in terms of flying fun, speed and comfort. Cost, reliability, insurance costs etc. are not my concern for this question.


Click here to go to the “Miscellaneous ‘Stuff’” page of the public section of the COPA web site. Toward the bottom of that page you’ll see a set of links to some comparisons between the SR20, Tiger, and Mooney M20J.


In reply to:

If you own or have owned both a Tiger and an SR-20, how do you compare them in terms of flying fun, speed and comfort. Cost, reliability, insurance costs etc. are not my concern for this question.


I owned a Tiger for 10 years. I can’t compare it to a 20, because I own a 22. But I will try to give an overall impression of differences.

The Cirrus and the Tiger have a lot in common, in fact I think the best aircraft to get ready to transition to a Cirrus from is a Tiger. Their sight picture, steering (differential), landing habits, demand for reasonably precise landing speeds are all similar. The Tiger is a good climber when low and light, but struggles at higher densities. I only have a few hours in a 20, but they are not great climbers. Would reckon they are a tie in that area, but I have to defer to a 20 owner on that.

That said, while the Cirrus is a sporty handler, the Tiger is quicker in handling (not speed of course). Its canopy is fun and very useful in hot weather (less so in rainy conditions). The spring cartridges for the autopilot make the controls in the Cirrus feel heavier than the Tiger. Frankly when I fly a friends Tiger, I remember what I loved about it.

That said the Cirrus is faster, way better equipped and considerably roomier.

I would say if one could afford a new Tiger, it is so overpriced for what it is your better off in the Cirrus. I just do not see how they can stay viable at that low a volume and at that price they will not sell many - and as a fan of the plane I hate to say it. Now if you looking to buy late 70’s plane at 1/3 or less of the price of a new one, the Tiger is a great choice.

If I ever step down from a Cirrus, it is very likely you will find me in a Tiger again. Just an older one.

The reason I ask is that we currently own a 1992 Tiger and a Lancair Columbia 350. My wife flies the Tiger only, she finds it easy and not intimidating. I’m curious to see if there is another, “simple” plane she might like that is faster. She likes the Tiger so much, it would take a lot to get her to switch. And I love flying it myself, in fact, I fly it more than the Lancair just because it is so much more fun! Taxiing around with the canopy open is a blast and we fly with it open sometimes too. The handling is light, very responsive. For a trip somewhere over 100 or 150 miles, we take the Lancair. The Tiger gives so much bang for the buck, we paid $98K, I can’t imagine selling it, but I am very curious about the Cirrus. I appreciate the info you all are providing.


I owned a 1991 Tiger for two years and loved it.

In 2002 I sold my Tiger and purchased a new SR22 and love it (but do miss flying with the top down :slight_smile:

The transition was relatively easy.

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Thank you,
The COPA Team

I have about 70 hr each in Tigers and SR20’s; about 40 hr in SR22. I agree with Roger Whittier’s comments and would add the following (my own subjective opinions)

Fun: Tiger; I love the responsiveness. On the other hand for IFR flying I’d rather be in the '20.

Speed: SR20 by 5-15 kt, depending on the individual planes compared. Fuel consumption would be about the same, as the SR20’s fuel-injected TCM is more efficient than the carbureted Lyc.

Comfort: SR20 in a walk. There’s NO comparison here.

Other things…

Ventilation: Tiger. Neither has a fan; you have to open a door(SR20) or slide back the canopy(Tiger) on a warm day. I find the Tiger’s canopy more convenient and more fun.

Full-fuel payload: Older Tigers win out here.

Climb performance: Neither is a great climber (whaddya expect for 180-200 hp, eh?). The Tiger’s climb rate drops off very dramatically as you get higher and hotter: its airframe is a low parasite drag/high induced drag design.

Safety: While the Tiger has a very good record, the modern design '20 would be overall more crash-worthy. And of course there’s CAPS on the Cirrus…

Regarding the new Tigers: I’m sure they’re very nice planes but I just don’t see the value proposition; they cost about the same as a new SR20. OTOH an early '90s American General Tiger in good shape for $85-110K would be a great choice.

Two planes in the family? What a wonderful “problem” to have! A Tiger and Col350 is a great combination. Tiger + SR22 and 260se/stol + SR22 would be terrific too, as would SR20 + SR22.


I owned a Tiger for just over 10 years (1992 to 2003).

Great little plane, best “bang for the buck” IMHO.

Time moves on, though, and 1975 technology has been eclipsed by 2001 technology - I think the Cirrus and/or Lancair are clearly “better” airplanes, though the Tiger is more fun to fly, largely due to the lighter controls and canopy.

You implied your wife finds the Lancair “intimidating”. I think there are ways to make it no more intimidating than the Tiger.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the “too much stuff” on a Lancair or Cirrus. This is almost 100% from the avionics, since fuel management, flaps, engine power, etc. are all very similar to the Tiger.

So, the first step is to “dumb down” the avionics. No one NEEDS two navcoms, so leave #2 off. No one NEEDS an MFD with multiple pages, so choose a page (probably either MAP or ENGINE) and just leave it there. Similarly the PFD can be set and left alone, other than setting the altimeter and HSI. Even the fancy features of the autopilot can be left for later - or not used at all.

Once the Lancair has been “Tiger-ized” in this fashion, your wife can start “nibbling” at the extra features. Though intimidating at first, she’ll come to find that most of these features, when understood, make flying easier, not harder.

FWIW, I had over 5,000 hours in a variety of planes when I took my demo flight in an SR22. I, too, felt “intimidated” - I was told to push this and push that and I definitely had that “too much stuff/behind the airplane” feel for the entire flight.

Here’s my Tiger panel after a Garmin 430 upgrade:

Though it fit me “like a glove”, in retrospect it was a lot LESS integrated than a Cirrus or Lancair panel.