Car reviews - Hyundai - Tiburon - range
Value for money, high level of standard safety, improved handling
Room for improvement
Ageing interior, lacklustre V6, firm ride
28 Mar 2007
The changes might be minimal, but the Tiburon is a better car than the one it replaces.
It’s easy notice the exterior styling upgrades, but it is the car’s steering and road-holding that have moved up a class.
The Tiburon is still not a great sportscar, but it is an affordable and attractive coupe that will satisfy those who slide into the driver’s seat without great expectations.
It’s impossible to hide the Tiburon’s age, despite the exterior styling that could belong to a performance costing far more.
The interior might have been upgraded with touches like new trim and blue lighting, but still looks old and a bit plain when compared to the latest Hyundai interiors.
The wrap-around seats are comfortable and supportive and fit the sportscar role, while the combination of leather and cloth looks good.
There isn’t much headroom for taller occupants who might need to tilt back the back-rest to avoid hitting the roof with their head. On cars fitted with a sunroof, its lower surround further protrudes into the available headroom.
Jockeys and children can fit in the two rear seats, but with such a raked rear roofline there is not enough headroom for an adult to sit comfortably.
The 2.7-litre V6 is not the powerplant you would expect in a sportscar these days, especially when it generates just 123kW and 245Nm.
Smaller, modern naturally aspirated four-cylinder engines can produce similar figures and better fuel consumption.
But the Tiburon is no slug as long as you are prepared to keep the engine spinning high in the rev range. It sounds pretty nice with a sporty, but not raucous six-cylinder note when on the go.
The lack of massive power surges down low in the rev range could well be a blessing in disguise when it comes to the Tiburon, which remains a front-wheel-drive.
As it doesn’t have much punch, there are no traces of torque steer tugging away at the wheel.
Indeed, the Tiburon is well behaved on twisty roads thanks to a revised suspension and steering set-up.
The steering feels firmer and gives the driver more feedback. It might even be a touch too heavy for some people and low speed car-park work, but most will appreciate the big step forward.
As a result of the suspension and steering changes, the Tiburon holds the road a lot better and gives the driver more confidence when pushing hard.
It is not all good news though as the Tiburon’s ride is on the firm side, picking up a lot of niggling bumps. The suspension seems to find it hard to sort out the bumps on choppy tarmac and the body can tend to bounce and dip as it follows the road.
The six-speed manual is not the crispest gearbox around and has a relatively long-throw action, but does the job and allows the engine to sit happily at 2000 revs at 100km/h.
The four-speed automatic is nothing to crow about, but again the transmission is adequate.
If it starts to hunt on a long uphill stretch, you can just slip into manual mode to get it to hold the gear.
The quality of the cars on this week’s launch was mixed, but the problems were minor, including a dash rattle in one and louder than normal wind-noise thanks to a problem window seal in another.
These could all be fixed at a dealership, but aren’t in line with Hyundai’s improving quality standards.
Bootspace is quite adequate for a sportscar of these dimensions and the luggage net is welcome.
Unfortunately, the Tiburon is the only Hyundai to not come with a full size spare wheel – it has a space saver instead.
More important standard equipment is the electronic stability control and the side airbags which are a welcome addition.
Even though their inclusion is the main factor in the $2000 price rise, Hyundai should be given a pat on the back for making them standard rather than offering them as optional equipment or part of add-on pack.
You really have to try hard to trigger the traction control or stability control when pushing, but they can be turned off if you prefer.
Whichever way you look at it, the Tiburon is an attractive and value for money coupe, but just don’t expect it to challenge real thoroughbreds.
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