Hyundai has announced that the Tiburon, which is Spanish for “shark” would not be produced for the 2009 model year or into the foreseeable future, and 2008 was a good year to cut it off. The Tiburon first premiered in the U.S. in 1997, and it garnered a fair amount of interest. It was a compact sports car with a small, but relatively strong, engine, and, most importantly, it was fun. By 2008, the Tiburon had lost its teeth.
Under the hood of the base level GS Tiburon is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine good for 138 horsepower. The higher trim levels, the GT, SE, and GT Limited, all have a 2.7-liter V6, which is rated at 172 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque. This powerplant was fine in previous interations of the Tiburon, but by 2008 it was not enough to keep up with the competition. Why go for a V6 Tiburon, when a four-cylinder Honda Civic Si puts out more power for about the same price?
As far as the handling goes, the Tiburon falls a bit short as well. The car weighs over 3,000 pounds, which is pretty heavy in the compact sports car world. In the four-cylinder model, that weight severely hampers the acceleration, and even in the V6 model, it still feels a bit sluggish. Also, the cornering is a bit soft and the suspension could use some work. The SE model does feature a sport-tuned suspension that corrects these problems a bit, making it the trim level of choice.
One part of the Tiburon that is done absolutely right, however, is the interior. It is not the most luxurious cabin in the auto world, but it is simple and elegant. The sport seats are enveloping and keep you upright through tight corners, but they aren’t too hard or uncomfortable. The layout of the electronics and gadgets is simple and effective, and that is an apt description for the entire interior: simple and effective.
Hyundai has a new Genesis Coupe in their lineup now that is incredibly effective and a thrilling drive. Reminiscent of the original Tiburon, actually. Hyundai says that the rear-wheel drive Genesis is not meant to be a replacement for the front wheel drive Tiburon, and a new compact sports car may be in the company’s future.