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Future models - Hyundai - Tiburon

Exclusive: Hyundai goes rear-drive

Serious: HCD-8 concept car is expected to morph into the new rear-drive Tiburon, due here in 2008.

World scoop: Hyundai confirms its next-gen Tiburon coupe will be rear-wheel drive

29 Apr 2005

"FUTURE Driven" Hyundai will abandoning front-wheel drive for its next Tiburon.

Due to be unveiled towards the end of 2007 before a local debut the following year, the rear-wheel drive coupe will be a "serious sports car", according to a senior Hyundai Motor Company executive.

Although details are scant, it is believed the Tiburon replacement will be a three-door coupe featuring many of the styling cues as well as the general proportions displayed on the HCD-8 Concept Car, which made its global debut at the 2004 Detroit motor show and has since appeared in Melbourne.

The HCD-8, as it stands, is powered by a supercharged version of a current 2.7-litre DOHC V6 with a six-speed manual gearbox.

However, variations of Hyundai's new-generation 3.3 and 3.8-litre V6 engines are expected to debut in the 2+2 seater sports car, with the latter one likely to be the range-topper.

"Yes, we are developing rear-wheel drive for the next sports car," was the surprising response from Hyun Soon Lee, Executive Senior Vice President for Hyundai Motor Corporation.

This remark came after a suggestion from the gathered press at the opening of the 2005 Seoul motor show in South Korea that the company seek the passionate sports car route to increase its global youth appeal, rather than simply focus on quality.

Mr Lee's remark even caught out other Hyundai executives.

It is a surprising development for a model that started out as the very unsporty two-door derivation of the front-wheel drive Hyundai X2 Excel of 1990 called the S-Coupe.

That car's predecessor jumped up to the 1995 J2 Lantra platform to become the SX, FX and SFX Coupe until the current, sharper - but still front-wheel drive - Tiburon came into the fray in 2002.

A rear-wheel drive sports car is in line with Hyundai's desire to push its vehicles further upmarket.

Such a model willl probably share many components with a rear-wheel drive sedan in much the same way that Nissan's 350Z has spawned a range of mostly-US market Infinity products such as the G35.

1 center imageThere has been speculation for some time that Hyundai was considering releasing a luxury line of vehicles above the current, Sonata-derived Grandeur - which has just had a complete makeover and is the star of Hyundai's stand at Seoul.

Adding further credence to Hyundai's sports image push is its re-entry into the World Rally Championship from 2008.

The company says it will field an all-wheel drive "sports car" very loosely derived from the yet-to-be released Accent replacement, the front-wheel drive MC4 small car.

Australian new car buyers have never experienced a rear-wheel drive Hyundai in the marque's 19-year local history.

Yet before that first 1986 X1 Excel, its entire range consisted of rear-wheel drive small and medium sized models, mostly derived from outmoded Fords like the Cortina-based Stellar.

Hyundai's Seoul motor show catch-cry this year is "Endless Surprise, In Our Motor-Life". A rear-wheel drive Tiburon replacement is nothing if not that from South Korea's number one car-maker.

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