I like Hyundai's a lot, and this is mostly due to the company's innovation and attention to detail. Korea's auto giant has made a name for itself, as a viable player for prospective car buyers. The reasons are simple, as they manufacture reliable, decent performing vehicles for a reasonable price. Hyundai does not want its name associated with BMW, Lexus, or Mercedes. It does not want to mentioned in the same sentence as Daihatsu, or Yugo either. Hyundai wants to be mentioned as a competitor and a option to Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, and Toyota. They have done well with this, and are selling record amounts of vehicles internationally. Their lineup is impressive, and as a salesman in the automotive business, I have found they have a lot to offer. Their vehicles are well made, and I have a Santa Fe in my family that is an absolute joy to drive. Its a shame that the Tiburon does not live up to the rest of the Hyundai line.
Tiburon in Spanish means shark. This vehicle certainly has a mean look with its aggressive styling, but it really should be called, " Tres Pereza de toed." The Tiburon gets a lot of "looks," and this car is aimed to the 16-25 year old market. The sloped hood looks nice, and the back of the car has just the right amount of curve to give it a aerodynamic appearance. However, appearances aren't everything, and the Tiburon does not drive or handle like a sportscar at all. I have driven previous years GT versions with the 2.7 V6, but I was stuck with the 2.0 liter DOHC 4 cylinder GS model.(There's not much of a difference)Total horsepower is 140, which does provide for great gas mileage.(24 mpg city/30 mpg highway) However, a sports car is supposed to provide some "serious performance."
The engine is not responsive, and barely pushes enough juice to be described as adequate. I would compare the acceleration experience of the Tiburon to a mid to late 90's Saturn SL sedan, which I consider to be absolutely unacceptable. You can push the "pedal to the metal," but there's just nothing there. Its almost like acceleration is a mundane experience that is supposed to be unenjoyable, and the Tiburon delivers on that with flying colors. I even tried some "aggressive shifting," and still nothing worth writing home about. In addition to the lackluster performance, the engine makes a distinctive whining noise that is not appropriate for a sports car. Even going from 3rd to 5th gear is a slow experience, and I'm guessing that zero to 60 second time is around 9 seconds.
The overall driving experience is poor, and there is a lot of cabin noise. Hyundai usually performs well when it comes to insulating cars from the road, but they have failed miserably here. If you like to drive on the highway, then the Tiburon will make you absolutely dread it. At 45 mph and above the noise is almost unbearable, and the stereo doesn't help much either. There's also a strange wind noise at high speeds with the windows up. Visibility is only average out front with the low profile size of the vehicle, and there are massive blind spots in the rear.(Both sides) The rear window is hard to see out of, although it does have an outstanding defroster/rear wiper.
Handling is minor league, as the steering movements feel choppy and forced. The turning radius is terrible, and it almost reminds me of doing a u-turn in a much larger sized vehicle. Braking is a nerve racking experience. These brakes feel mushy, and lack the feeling of stability during application. However, they do seem to work fairly decently when it comes to stopping, so this is a "mind over matter issue." However, a lot of drivers, including myself, like a total sense of security with this issue.
The seats and overall comfort are way below average, even when compared to other sports cars. The drivers seat has a bit too much support, and I had some minor lower back aches from driving this car. I'm sure chiropractors love this vehicle, and it must be unbearable for long distance driving.(The most I drove it was an hour at a time) The materials used on the seats feel cheap, and it is a pain to move the seats forward or back. Room is also a issue, as I felt trapped in the drivers compartment. There is very little wiggle room, and my knees were almost on the dashboard while driving.(I'm 6'2) The back seats are absolutely useless, and won't even fit a small child comfortably. The trunk is decent sized for this type of vehicle however-just don't put the kids in there if they complain in the back!
Hyundai's craftsmanship and interior quality have improved drastically, but the Tiburon must have been left off of the list. Its cheap throughout, and I find the little buttons to move the windows/power mirrors aggravating. The whole interior has a "cheap plastic feel", and the features are weak. The air conditioning seems to struggle during hot days, and the radio system needs drastic improvement. If you are going to drive a sportscar, you need a system to go along with it. The CD Radio in the Tiburon reminds me of the old preinstalled car radio from the 1980's. The gauges do not fit in this as well. I think Hyundai needs to give them a more aggressive "racing style" look as well-its just too bland. Illumination is decent, and all of the controls are easy to read.
Due to these shortcomings with the Tiburon, I cannot recommend it. The only thing I can say in a positive light is that it has a great warranty. All Hyundai's come with a 5 year/60,000 mile bumper to bumper and 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranties. They also are guaranteed to pass federal emissions standards for 8 years/80,000 miles, and you get 5 years of roadside assistance. I hope Hyundai replaces or improves this vehicle, so that it conforms to their standards of excellence. The rest of their lineup is above average, but the Tiburon gets a failing grade.