Hyundai's eldest vehicle is ready for a complete redesign
Hyundai Tiburon – Sleek and Sexy Sport CoupeHyundai Tiburon – Photo Gallery: Oddly, Hyundai's most stylish car is also the one most overlooked. Among sport coupes, the tidy Hyundai Tiburon is sleek and sexy, an unabashed Ferrari knockoff, equipped with an available V6 engine, a low price, a terrific warranty, and a handy hatchback. Yet, it is invisible to consumers looking for speedy, cheap wheels. Hyundai hopes that a mild refresh for 2007 will boost interest in what is now the oldest car in the Korean automaker's lineup. After a couple of hours spent behind the wheel, however, we think it's time the Tiburon got a total redesign.
Changes for the 2007 Hyundai Tiburon include new styling from the windshield forward, revised taillights, new exhaust tips, a redesigned rear fascia, and new wheel designs. Inside, cool blue backlighting has been added to the gauges and controls; a feature Hyundai claims costs $50 per car. A tire pressure monitor is now standard, and the stereo plays MP3s. The Tiburon SE model gets more serious about performance thanks to European sport suspension tuning, larger cross-drilled brake rotors, and a standard stability control system. SE models also get a full-size spare tire.
Hyundai Tiburon – GS Model
Hyundai offers three versions of the Tiburon for 2007. The GS model has a 138-horsepower four-cylinder engine, 16-inch alloy wheels, and fog lights. Other standard features on the Tiburon GS include air conditioning, a tilt steering wheel, power door locks with remote keyless entry, power windows, and power heated side mirrors. An iPod-compatible 220-watt Kenwood audio system with CD/MP3 player ensures the future profitability levels of hearing aid manufacturers. Cruise control, a power sunroof, and a four-speed automatic transmission are the major options on the GS.
Hyundai Tiburon – GT Model
One of two versions equipped with the 172-horsepower V6 engine, the Tiburon GT is for people who prefer a cruiser over a canyon carver. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a four-speed automatic is optional. GT trim adds 17-inch wheels and performance tires, cruise control, automatic climate control with outside temperature display, a trip computer, metallic interior accents, black leather door inserts and seat bolsters, and lumbar support for the driver. The Tiburon GT Limited bumps the equipment roster with a power sunroof, red leather door inserts and seats, and a 440-watt Infinity audio system with a six-disc CD changer.
Hyundai Tiburon – SE Model
Enthusiast drivers will want the sport-tuned Tiburon SE. Its 2.7-liter V6 is paired exclusively to a six-speed automatic transmission and the SE is the only Tiburon to get stability control. Other differences include red painted brake calipers, a tall rear spoiler, a full-size spare tire, aluminum foot pedals, a special gauge pack in the dash, and black cloth seats with red leather bolsters. A power sunroof is the only option on the Tiburon SE.
Hyundai Tiburon – Safety
Honestly, Hyundai could do better with regard to the Tiburon's safety equipment spec. Bragging points are standard four-wheel-disc ABS with EBD, a tire pressure monitor, and standard side-impact airbags for the front passengers. Side-curtain airbags are not available and stability control is reserved for the most expensive SE model. Still, the NHTSA gives the 2007 Hyundai Tiburon a five-star crash rating for the driver, a four-star rating for the front passengers, and a four-star rating for front seat occupants in the side crash test.
Hyundai Tiburon – SE Suspension Tuning
Starting with the standard MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear independent suspension, Hyundai engineers stiffened the Tiburon SE by dialing in the same tuning used on the European model. That means 13-percent stiffer front spring rates, 10-percent stiffer rear spring rates, and unique strut valving to produce a 32-percent improvement in roll control over the comparatively mushy Tiburon GS.
Hyundai Tiburon – Interior
Hyundai carried over the Tiburon's interior for 2007, with a few exceptions. The gauges are new this year, and they get soothing blue backlighting at night. The sport-bolstered seats remain as supportive as ever, now equipped with revised fabrics and leather. Hyundai refers to the new metallic accent trim on GT and SE models as "gunmetal," and the Tiburon benefits from a redesigned center console and cupholders. A trip computer is also added to the GT and SE, but strangely it does not computer average miles per gallon.
Hyundai Tiburon – Fuel Economy
According to Hyundai, the Tiburon GS will return 23 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway from its 138-horsepower, four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission (22/30 with the optional automatic). Tiburon GT's 172-horse V6 yields 19 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway regardless of transmission choice, while the Tiburon SE is rated for 18 city and 26 highway. Our test drive in the SE model registered 22 mpg, despite a heavy foot during acceleration and plenty of mountain driving.
Hyundai Tiburon – Warranty Coverage
Every new Hyundai Tiburon is backed by a comprehensive factory warranty including five-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper coverage, 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain protection, and a seven-year/unlimited mileage rust perforation policy. Additionally, Tiburon owners benefit from five years of 24-hour roadside assistance with no mileage limit, which provides emergency towing service, lockout service, and limited coverage of trip-interruption expenses.
Hyundai Tiburon – Power and Performance
Mash the Hyundai Tiburon SE's accelerator to the floor, and torque steer waggles the wheel while the engine growls from behind the firewall. The Tiburon looks and sounds fast, but doesn't feel fast. Many people will find this car entertaining, but enthusiast drivers are likely to be underwhelmed by its performance.
Hyundai Tiburon – Ride and Handling
On twisty roads, the Hyundai Tiburon works harder than it plays. This is not an engaging car. Handling is merely decent, and brake pedal response, feel, and modulation are terrible. Nothing happens for the first inch or so of pedal travel, and then the binders bite. By the time the pads make contact with the rotors, however, the driver is in panic mode and jamming down on the pedal, which makes the Tiburon hard to drive smoothly. On city streets, the Tiburon SE is stiff so if ride comfort is a priority, select the GS or GT.
Hyundai Tiburon – Comfort
Larger people are going to find the Hyundai Tiburon's excellent sport seats a bit confining, but they do a terrific job of holding the driver in place during a spirited run through the curves. Occupants sit low in the Tiburon, and the glass area is minimal, so those suffering claustrophobia will want to think twice about purchasing this car. The rear seats are best left to children, or, better yet, left folded down to maximize cargo space.
Hyundai Tiburon – Control Layout and Design
Style is a strong point for the Hyundai Tiburon, inside and out. The new blue gauge backlighting is worth the extra money Hyundai is spending, and the controls are laid out in a visually pleasing and simple fashion. Note that the Tiburon's dash pad is soft to the touch, a rarity in cars that cost under $20,000.
Hyundai Tiburon – Pricing
When the 2007 Hyundai Tiburon goes on sale, the GS model will cost about $17,195 and the GT model will cost about $19,895. Final pricing had not been set at the time this was written, so our guess is that the Tiburon SE will cost around $22,000.
Photos courtesy of Hyundai