2008 Tiburon New Car Test Drive
Hyundai Tiburon competes from a price standpoint with low-cost sport coupes Honda Civic Si and Scion tC, but it also stacks up favorably against the more expensive Mitsubishi Eclipse. The Eclipse is more powerful, but the Tiburon rivals its handling and is in some ways sportier.
The Tiburon SE suspension is firm, but not uncomfortable. The payoff comes in the corners, as the front-wheel-drive Tiburon SE grips the road better than the Eclipse. The Tiburon SE also stops well, having 12-inch cross-drilled front brake rotors.
From the side, Tiburon looks rakish; and the 12-spoke SE wheels look great.
Inside, the seats are comfortable and well bolstered, and the instruments are backlit in a cool blue, with sharp gunmetal accents on the instrument panel. When you look into the rearview mirror, the high spoiler reminds you that you're in a sports car.
The Tiburon SE's V6 engine makes 172 horsepower, considered modest for this class nowadays, but it makes a nice throaty sound when you rev it to its 6500 rpm redline. The engine's torque comes early in the revs, making it easy and pleasant to drive around town. The SE's six-speed gearbox is good, and the clutch is smooth, but the shift lever has too long a throw to feel tight. Heel-and-toe downshifts are challenging because of the pedal locations.
The Tiburon GS, the entry-level model that goes for less than $18,000, uses a four-cylinder engine with a five-speed gearbox.
All Tiburons are equipped with anti-lock brakes, electronic brake-force distribution, a tire pressure monitor, side airbags, and a 220-watt Kenwood MP3 sound system. New for 2008, the system includes XM Satellite radio with three months of free service.
Also available are a four-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic manual control, and electronic stability control with brake assist.
Hyundai claims its warranty is America's best, with five-years/60,000 miles bumper-to-bumper and 10-years/100,000 miles limited powertrain. Tiburon buyers also get 24-hour roadside assistance at no charge for five years.
The 2008 Hyundai Tiburon is offered in four trim levels, beginning with the inexpensive GS ($17,025), which uses a DOHC 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, mated to a five-speed manual transmission or optional ($1100) four-speed automatic with Shiftronic manual control. Standard equipment includes power windows, doors and heated mirrors, air conditioning, keyless entry, tilt steering, a 220-watt Kenwood MP3 sound system, XM Satellite Radio (with three months free service), fog lamps, and 16-inch alloy wheels. Cruise control isn't standard, but it comes in a Premium Package ($1150) with a power tilt-and-slide glass sunroof.
The Tiburon GT ($19,925) uses a DOHC 2.7-liter V6 with the same transmission options as the GS, and rides on 17-inch alloy wheels. Inside, there are black leather seat bolsters with cloth inserts, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, driver's-side adjustable lumbar support, automatic climate control, trip computer, and metallic trim. Cruise control is also standard, although the sunroof is optional ($900).
The GT Limited ($22,525) adds a red leather interior and makes the sunroof and automatic transmission standard.
The SE ($22,375) is the 'track-tuned' model, with a suspension set up for hard cornering. It comes with the same the 2.7-liter V6 as the GT and GT Limited, but the only available transmission is a six-speed manual. Other special equipment includes Electronic Stability Control (ESC) with Brake Assist and Traction Control, red front brake calipers on big vented rotors, a high rear spoiler, aluminum pedals, and the red leather seats with black cloth inserts. Climate control reverts to manual, and the sunroof is optional ($900).
Options for all models: Bluetooth hands-free phone system ($325), cargo net ($45), carpeted floor mats ($90), mud guards ($85), sunroof wind deflector ($85), and wheel locks ($40).
Safety equipment that comes standard includes front airbags, front side-impact airbags, seatbelt pretensioners and force limiters, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution, and a tire pressure monitor.