Pros: Good styling, cant-be-beat warranty, fun to drive, good acceleration
Cons: Cramped back seat, a few recalls
I have owned this car for 2.5 years and it has been a really good car, but not great. I say not great because I have had a few problems (all of which were corrected promptly by the dealership)but these problems have not lowered my enthusiasm for the car. The problems have been generally minor, NEVER making the car undrivable, just a small nuisance.
Overall the car looks better than anything else we considered when we bought the car. Others have said the car looks like a Ferrari. I dont really see the resemblance, but the 2003 Tiburon IS a good looking car. The front has soft lines that blend well into the doors and rear quarters. The "gills" behind the front wheels look like vents to allow heat to escape from the engine bay, but are not functional. These "gills" are the only thing on the car (apart from the rear wing) that break up a very clean, neat, uncluttered appearance. The overall look of the car is fresh and smooth, not dated or ordinary.
Everyone by now has heard that Hyundai misquoted the power rating for the 2.7 V-6. In case you haven't, Hyundai claimed the engine produced 181 hp. It actually only makes about 170 hp. Is 11 hp really that important? Obviously it is. After owning the car for just a few months I was offered an opportunity to join a class action lawsuit against Hyundai. For a settlement we were given a choice of $150 to be used at the dealership or a $75 VISA debit card that could be used anywhere. I opted for the latter. That being said... The engine revs easily, puts out a slight growl (I'd like to hear something a little aggressive) and moves the car very well. I have the Auto-Stick not the 6-speed manual, which is a blast to use and makes the car incredibly fun to drive. You have to love clutchless shifting! Acceleration is brisk, but not neck-snapping. Fuel mileage is rather good for a V-6. Sorry, I've never calculated my actual mileage but I'm guessing 20 city and probably 26 to 28 highway.
As soon as I sat in the car I knew this was no cheap Korean car. The interior of the car belongs in a car costing perhaps $7,000 more. The fit and finish is excellent. Leather seats are standard and are very comfortable. My wife and I have driven from Florida to Virginia (about 800 miles) and at the end of the trip we were obviously tired but not stiff and sore. I'm 6 feet tall and as long as the seat is moved all the way back, I have no problem getting comfortable in the car. The back seat is at the other end of the spectrum. It is very cramped. Anyone over 4 feet tall will have to squeeze into the back. If you need to move more than 2 people on a regular basis, look for another car. But, if you are single or a couple, the interior should do just fine. The rear seats split and fold flat. The hatchback lifts easily and has a low opening for easy loading of items. A 10 inch subwoofer is located in the back and has no real protection so be careful that things dont slide around in the back and bang the speaker grill.
The car sits very low, as a sport coupe should. The ride is firm, but not punishing. The car corners exceptionally well and predictable understeer sets in when pushed too hard. "Motor Trend" magazine calls the chasis "tossable" and it is indeed very agile.
The Good News
The Tiburon is incredibly affordable and offers great Bang for the Buck. Everything you need or want is standard... Leather interior, 300 watt Infinity AM/FM/Cassette/CD with 10 inch subwoofer and 6 speakers, AC, power everything, intermitent wipers, fog (driving) lights, keyless entry, cruise control, 16 inch wheels with performance Michelins, dual map lights, 5 year/60,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty and more. The only options I got were the 4 speed auto-stick and a power sunroof. I paid about $17,500. You cant beat a deal like that!
The Bad News
There have been some recalls on the car. Some were minor, some were a little more extensive. No recall service performed by the dealership took more than a few hours at the service department. In my opinion, recalls are to be expected on an all new car. Hyundai just needed to "work the bugs out" as far as I'm concerned. Things have needed attention since we bought the car. After about a year the passenger window motor wouldnt work and was replaced. The power sunroof wouldnt work and was fixed. The ABS light came on and was fixed (twice). To Hyundai's credit, whenever I had a problem I would call and make an appointment, take the car in and it would be fixed quickly. My Hyundai dealership has never given me any problems, only courtious professionalism. All repairs were done under warranty. No repairs have ever cost me anything. I'm very pleased with the service department.
Very Very good car. Quick, really fun to drive, great sound system, the best warranty, good gas mileage... the list goes on. Yes, I've had a few problems but nothing that has prevented me from driving the car. I would reccomend the car and would buy another one.