Pros: Style, handling, power, looks, WARRANTY!
Cons: Tires, stereo
I purchased a 2004 Hyundai Tiburon GT V6 with a 6 speed manual after doing some research on the car. Almost everything I read was accurate with a few minor exceptions. First off, this is a really great car. The styling and look of the car is exceptional. I looked at the Mitsubishi Eclipse and a Toyota Celica GT-S but neither of them really look as good as this car. A lot of people have asked me about the spoiler or the rims or the body to see what mods I have done to it because it looks almost perfect from the factory. The interior design in the 2004 and later models is simple but is refined. The seats are firm and hold you in place. The view while driving takes a little getting used to as you're sitting almost on the floor. The side view mirrors are somewhat high compared to most other coupes, so quickly whipping around corners is a little unsettling. The headlight system uses projection lenses with standard Halogen bulbs, but the lenses really light up the road. The trunk and hood both seem heavy and solid so when you close the doors or the hood or the trunk lid, it doesn't sound as though 20 pieces of your car just came loose. The hood also has hyrdaulic support so there is no hood support rod to put in place when checking under the hood. Storage in the trunk is acceptable but not abundant. However, having a hatch back with 50/50 folding rear seats allows you to transport a lot more things than a standard sedan. This car also has several hard points to bungee things down in the trunk so they won't slide around.
The car handles very well and the steering is tight and very responsive. However, as with most front wheel drive cars, the torque steer on any uneven or bumpy roads is fairly pronounced. The six speed manual is also very crisp and clean, and pretty tight between gears. The sound of the exhaust when pushing the car to the red line is something incredible. The back seats are pretty cramped, and not meant for taking tall people on any trips. Storage compartments are good, with one random storage compartment by the rear right seat (a first aid kit fits perfectly in here). The ride is stiff but not uncomfortable and it rides like a sports car should. All in all, I really enjoy this car.
There are a few minor draw backs to it. As is typical, OE tires on a car are worthless. This is again the case with the Tiburon. They put a very refined, performance oriented car on some of the worst tires ever made (and they're not cheap). Who puts 17" rims on a car and then says, "Hey, let's put the most expensive, yet worst traction rated tires on here." Were they just messing around one day ordering tires and it accidentally went through like that? If you are considering purchasing a Tiburon, make sure to get different tires on the car from the dealer prior to purchase (Avon Tech, Pirelli P Zero Nero or Kuhmo). Otherwise driving in the snow and rain will be a real delight. It's not so bad you can't use the car, just be very cautious as it will not grip if you even think about pushing the gas in. I've also broken the tires loose when cornering hard, again thanks to cheap tires. Another flaw is the Infinity stereo. My Tiburon has the "premium" Infinity stereo with the separate "subwoofer" in the trunk. I previously put Infinity Reference speakers all the way around in my old car, with an aftermarket Sony head unit and large 12" subwoofer in a bandpass box in the trunk. That stereo was almost perfect, clear highs, good mids, and some of the best low end response I've ever heard. I thought this stereo would stand up to something like that as it's designed by Infinity. The factory Tiburon Infinity audio system is not forgiving at all. It sounds good with a brand new CD, but burned CDs, radio, or tape really drop in sound quality. There's also some strange resonances that go on through out the interior. The controls are fairly simple and easy to use, but the clarity and tone of the music is gone on anything but a brand new CD. Even with the subwoofer in the trunk, it's all very disappointing. The trunk mounted Infinity "subwoofer" would be better used for additional storage of jumper cables or other emergency equipment. I plan on starting with an aftermarket deck to see if I can get some type of clean sound from the system, and I'll use the factory Infinity "subwoofer" to make fiberglass enclosures for some real subwoofers.
Finally, the six speed manual is a close ratio gear box, which means that when you drop it into 6th gear, don't plan on it settling down to 2000RPM at 70mph. This transmission is designed to keep the optimum power band of the engine just a few steps away (so racing onto the freeway is effortless). When cruising at 75mph in 6th gear, the engine runs around 3,500 which is pretty high for a V6. Having an overdrive gear as the 6th gear would've been a better choice by Hyundai. If you were racing down the road, by the time you'd need to redline into 6th, the engine will probably shut itself down until you slowed it down. The car has amazing power and really takes off through the gears, so city driving is great. However, if you're crusing down the highway in 6th gear, don't plan on getting any great gas mileage. I do know that a Pontiac Grand Prix GT (with the supercharger) doesn't stand a chance. I also know that an Infiniti G35 coupe is a pretty close match up (for a lot less of the price).
Despite these things, I love this car. I find myself a lot of the time turning off the stereo to listen to the exhaust and engine run. The tires are pretty bad, but can easily be replaced and once that happens, this car will most likely really start to come to life. Overall, this is a really great car, and it's worth every penny you will spend on it.