Hyundai entered the sport-coupe market in 1997 with its first-generation Tiburon. After sitting out the 2002 season, a new Tiburon returned as an early 2003 model. Design enhancements for 2005 include a new grille, lower fascia, headlights and fog lamps. A new entry-level GS model is available. Continuously variable valve timing has been added to the four-cylinder engine installed in the Tiburon GS. GT and top-level SE models are also offered.
Styled in South Korea, the Tiburon coupe blends straight and curved lines in what Hyundai calls an effort to "emphasize vitality and strength." The body features a high belt line and a short greenhouse with a steeply raked windshield and back window. Tiburons are equipped with all-disc brakes, a fully independent suspension, and front and rear stabilizer bars.
Built on a 99.6-inch wheelbase, the Tiburon is 173 inches long overall. A power moonroof is optional.
A deck-lid spoiler is mounted on the GT coupe, which has 17-inch alloy wheels. The SE model gets a high deck spoiler. The GS has standard 16-inch wheels, but 17-inch wheels are available.
Up to four occupants can fit inside the Tiburon. A six-speaker stereo with a CD player is standard in the GS.
Automatic air conditioning and a cassette/CD stereo are installed in the GT model. The seats in the GT feature red stitching, which complements the leather-wrapped steering wheel. Leather seating surfaces are available in the GT. The SE coupe has aluminum pedals, a trio of auxiliary gauges and a Kenwood CD/MP3 audio system. Cargo volume totals 14.7 cubic feet.
Under the Hood
Rated at 172 horsepower, the 2.7-liter V-6 teams with either a five-speed-manual or four-speed-automatic transmission in GT models or a six-speed manual in the SE. The GS carries a 138-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder that mates with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic.
Seat-mounted side-impact airbags are standard. Antilock brakes are standard on the SE and optional on the GT.
The Tiburon's shapely lines don't quite translate to the sporty driving experience one might expect. In performance models, the ride is bouncy on rough pavement. Even though the car stays properly on course, it doesn't impart a full sense of security.
Handling is good; the GT coupe steers easily and maneuvers with some nimbleness in corners. The Tiburon is stable on the highway and takes curves reasonably well, but it falls short of some rivals. Road and tire sounds are prominent, but the engine � if anything � is too quiet for easy manual gear shifting. Hyundai's six-speed gearbox is notchy and somewhat stiff, but the clutch engages smoothly. The seats are supportive. Legroom and elbowroom are good, but headroom is meager.