Versus the competiton:
There are any number of sporting propositions on today’s automotive scene, and one of them is the l998 Hyundai Tiburon coupe.
The Tiburon, however, is a sporting proposition with a difference.
In an arena of high-buck motor cars, the two-door Hyundai lies in an affordable price range, accessible to the majority of drivers who want performance without mortgaging the family home.
Hyundai breathed new life into the sports coupe segment of the market by offering a high-tech, get-up-and-go car for a little more than $14,000.
Available in two trim levels, Tiburon and Tiburon FX, the standard Tiburon has a suggested retail price of $14,399. If you want to go upstream a little, the FX is stickered at $14,899.
And for that kind of money, you are not getting some shuffle-along econobox.
Both models are powered by a 2.0-liter (120.4-cubic-inch/1,975 cc) dual-overhead cam, 16-valve four-cylinder engine, with performance Michelin rubber, stereo sound and a variety of accessories.
The rounded design of the ’98 Tiburon incorporates carved character lines that result in a unique, sculptured profile.
The low, grilleless front contains projector-type, ellipsoid-shaped headlights and a one-piece, body-colored wrap-around bumper made of highly resilient thermoplastic materials.
The rear styling is aerodynamic and features a deck spoiler that offers enhanced stability at high speed. On the FX, the spoiler with integrated brake light is standard. Also standard are a rear wiper and washer.
The co-efficient of drag is just 0.33, with the styling overall translating into a sleek automobile.
The car is a four-seater, laid out in a 2-plus-2 configuration on 97.4 inches of wheelbase and 170.9 inches of overall length. That configuration generally is the province of two-seater sports cars.
As with all vehicles of the sporting type, there is more room in the front than in the back.
Front seat legroom translates into 43.1 inches vs. 29.9 inches in the rear. If you’re planning on transporting a herd of Colts players, better try something with four doors.
Front seating is the traditional two individual bucket seats divided by a center console. The layout is designed to resemble an airplane cockpit, with a wraparound contoured dash providing a home for the standard speedometer-tachometer-temperature-fuel instrumentation, plus controls and switches.
The trim level of the FX is, of course, above that of the standard Tiburon. Rather than cloth seat trim, an accentuating coordinated seat fabric insert is used. Also, an optional two-tone leather package that includes seats, steering wheel and gearshift knob is available.
Putting all this in motion is a 120-cubic-inch-4 that puts out 140-horsepower. This is Hyundai’s Beta engine – the latest series of Hyundai-developed motors.
Getting 140 horses out of 120 inches shows that the company is going in the right direction. However, this is a high-speed engine that gets its peak power at 6,000 rpm, and that generally denotes that it’s no stump-puller in the torque department.
Torque is 133 foot-pounds at a fairly swift 4,800 rpm, good for 0-60 mph in the mid to upper 7 seconds bracket in five-speed manual transmission form. Top speed is around 120 mph.
As a concession to those who don’t want to do their own shifting. a four-speed automatic with overdrive is offered.
The car is a front-drive, a decided asset when flying through those right and left turn sweepers. Control is further enhanced by a rigid body and an extra reinforcing front crossmember that resists torsional movement.
Add to this 15-inch tires and aluminum alloy wheels on the FX and you can have life in the fast lane.
Both models have four-wheel independent suspension for ease of ride, no small feat with a small coupe.
An assist in giving the car a decent ride is the replacement of hydraulic shocks with gas-filled ab sorbers.
It is obvious that the Tiburon isn’t going to run with the ‘Vettes or the Ferraris, but then, you’re not going to buy those cars for $14,000. And at this price, you can still have fun getting there.