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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2003 Hyundai Tiburon Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2003 Hyundai Tiburon Overview

One Sleek Shark

The Tiburon is Hyundai's only sports car. It was brought to life a few years ago, using the platform and parts from the Elantra sedan. For a sports car designed to do battle with the likes of the Mitsubishi Eclipse and Acura Integra, it was woefully underpowered and cloaked in some pretty unconventional styling. But things have changed. With the arrival of the 2003 model, Hyundai's awkward teenager has grown into a handsome self-assured athlete.

The 2003 Tiburon is completely new from the ground up and shares only its name and base 2.0-liter engine with the model it replaces. The styling is bold and aggressive with an artful blend of angular lines and seductive curves with just a hint of Ferrari (the side sculpted door panels) thrown in for good measure. The Tiburon comes equipped with an impressive list of features including a 140-horsepower 2.0-liter engine, 5-speed manual transmission, 16-inch wheels and tires, air conditioning, AM/FM stereo with CD, keyless entry, fog lights, cruise control, tilt-steering wheel, four-wheel disc brakes, power windows and power door locks; and that's just the base model!

The Tiburon GT now features a powerful V6 engine that produces 181 horsepower and is mated to your choice of a five-speed manual, four-speed automatic with Shiftronic shift mode or a slick 6-speed manual transmission. GT models come with all the features found in the base model and add a 7-speaker Infinity stereo system with subwoofer, leather seats, leather steering wheel and shift knob and 17-inch alloy wheels. The only options are a sunroof and ABS. Though the Tiburon now has the looks, power and content to challenge the field, the most feared and potent weapon in its automotive arsenal remains its price; the base Tiburon lists for $16,500 and a fully-loaded GT barely exceeds the $20K mark. Of course, Hyundai's 10-year/100,000 mile warranty is also standard.

At this point you may be thinking that the Tiburon sounds good on paper, but you're wondering how does it perform in the real world? After spending some time behind the wheel of the 6-speed GT, we can safely say that on both winding back roads and flat out open highway, the Tiburon can accelerate, turn and stop with all the accuracy of its namesake (Tiburon is a shark, for those who don't know.) The Tiburon GT's impressive handling and sharp turn-in abilities are due to its stiffer shock/spring setup and thicker anti-roll bars. The suspension design delivers great handling on smooth pavement but a less than stellar ride over bumps and uneven ground. For those of you who do not plan to drive your Tiburon aggressively, the base model offers good handling and a much more comfortable ride.

The original Tiburon's interior was a pretty comfortable place to be and yet Hyundai has managed to make the new cockpit even better. The most noticeable improvement has been made to the seating, which is now wider and has better side bolstering. The height-adjustable seats can be lowered to provide additional headroom for tall drivers, or raised so that the average driver is not buried behind the dashboard. The dash itself is a handsome combination of large analog gauges, including a speedometer and tachometer with bright chrome trim rings. The audio and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) controls are stacked just to the driver's right and are easy to operate without distraction from the road. Overall, the interior is nicely appointed, though when ordered in black, becomes a bit dark; some additional aluminum or wood trim might help brighten things up. The Tiburon does have a rear seat, but it is best suited for short trips with very short people; we think the interior is more functional when the rear seat is folded flat, providing a large cargo floor accessible via the Tiburon's rear hatch. We also noticed that at high speeds, the interior was a bit noisier than what we've experienced in the Tiburon's competitors under similar road conditions; the culprit is a combination of tire, wind and engine noise.

Additional bonus points are awarded to Hyundai for their extensive list of standard safety equipment including three-point seat belts at all outboard positions, dual-stage front driver and passenger airbags and front side-impact airbags.

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