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Car reviews - Hyundai - Tiburon - coupe range

Our Opinion

We like
Build quality, V6 performance and refinement, keen pricing, gearshift, comfort
Room for improvement
Dull steering, understeer, 2.0-litre nervousness

15 Oct 2004

By JUSTIN LACY, March 2002

TIMES are changing over Hyundai way if its new sports car competitor, the Tiburon, is any indication.

Each new model brings a better understanding of what the consumer wants from Hyundai, as well as a better appreciation from critics like the motoring media of what Hyundai has achieved.

In the Tiburon there are no obvious signs of the price-reflected shortcuts often evident in other Hyundai products - well not in the V6 anyway.

The car is said to have been designed around the V6, while the 2.0-litre is clearly there to give the company a more keenly priced entry level model to keep the sales ticking over.

So it is not surprising that the V6 in particular feels solid and well finished, with a better purchase on the road thanks to its 17-inch wheels/tyres and a smooth V6 engine that is happy to rev all the way to redline.

It does not provide neck-snapping acceleration but rather a willing surge of power, regardless of whether it is matched to the manual or automatic transmission.

The only downsides to the driving experience are dull steering and some excess weight over the front end that contributes noticeably to understeer when pressing on.

The 2.0-litre, on the other hand, feels lighter and much more nervous on the road, wandering about at the front end over pockmarked road surfaces.

The short throw gearbox is a nice touch compared to the previous model, but a sticky throttle and high clutch pedal combine to detract from the car overall.

Inside, the seats are comfortable and offer a good level of bolstering, while the V6 models pick up such niceties as a thick-rimmed, three-spoke leather steering wheel and some extra gauges in the centre console for voltage, instant fuel consumption and torque readouts.

In all, it performs more like a sports tourer than an out-and-out sports car. But that is really where Hyundai is pitching it anyway - at the Celica, Integra and Cougar end of the sports segment, not up against the real revheads like the 200SX, WRX and TypeR.

The Tiburon is undoubtedly a long way ahead of the coupe models it replaces, both in terms of the driving experience and the quality levels it has attained for Hyundai models as a whole.

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