1998 Hyundai Tiburon SX 1.8L from Australia and New Zealand


Fantastic little FWD sportscar. Now if only it had a little more power...


Nothing out of the ordinary has really gone wrong with the car.

The suspension, springs and bushes are all due for replacement soon. Could probably do another 100,000k's if you asked my father, but I'm very performance orientated, and I can notice the differences.

The clutch is starting to slip, and will also need replacement shortly. But slips only during hot, 35+ degree Celsius days. Not noticeable at all during winter or cooler days though. This is still the standard clutch, and 190,000k's is a pretty good effort from an OEM item I feel. Considering the amount of abuse I've dished out over the years!

I had a creak in the clutch pedal, and I thought it'd started separating from the bulkhead. But one day I was pulled over by officer plod for doing an illegal U turn, and mounted a gutter to get off the busy road. It seemed to correct itself from the jolt and I've had no more creaks... (the officer let me go, because I was lost, over 120km's from home)

The exhaust manifold cracked in about 5 places, and sounds like a rather sick lawnmower when she's cold. But once it's warm, the metal expands, which closes the cracks and the sound is gone. Due for replacement also.

I've been through one set of brake pads. Not bad considering it's done 190,000K's!

And lately it's started to blow a little smoke, but it's to be expected. A) It's a Hyundai with 190,000k's still on the standard rings. B) I haven't exactly given her an easy life...

Oh, and I've been through one battery.

General Comments:

I have owned my late (Nov) 98 model, red Tiburon SX (Coupe here in Australia) since 2003. I purchased the vehicle with 60,000k's and now have over 190,000K's.

I don't think I'll ever sell her; she means that much to me!

I have never experienced any of the paint issues many of you speak of, nor the engine check light problems (touch wood!). Sorry, I did once! But that was when I removed the stock air box and replaced with a K&N pod style filter. To remedy the engine check light problem, I mounted the sensor and cable tied it right near the filter, so that air is passed over it. Problem solved!

Some of you might benefit from checking this sensor, as it very well may be the problem you are experiencing. When the sensor fails, it doesn't recognise the air movement, and the engine light comes on telling you there's a problem.

The car is well poised and balanced, but from an engineering standpoint, I have noted a couple of areas where Hyundai could have done better.

There is a bit of weight over the front axles, and if you look closely, the engine is mounted almost halfway over the front axles, which induces a bit of understeer when pushed to the limits (although it's a common FWD ailment).

And there is also a bit of unnecessary front overhang there! The engine bay could be a bit tighter; there's plenty of room there.

For optimum balance, the engine needed to have the majority of weight behind the front axles instead of on/over it. But the weight distribution is still fairly good. Aftermarket suspension tuning would probably cure the understeering tendency.

Had Hyundai designed this car with rear wheel drive, it would have sold 100 times more units! The weight distribution would have then been spot on, and I feel it would have really put Hyundai on the map as far as performance car manufacturing and reputations go.

So, listen up Hyundai!

If you want your brand image to extend beyond cheap passenger and economy cars, pull your finger out and give us a RWD Tiburon!

In the wet, the balance is the most noticeable. It gently understeers at first, then as the weight shifts, it safely four wheel drifts through the corners. I'm not sure of the weight distribution, but it'd have to be 55/45 with a front weight bias.

The car is no giant killer from stock. But it surprises the hell out of much higher spec'd performance cars on downhill mountain runs!

I now have 17" lightweight race rims with ultra low 30 profile, 205 tyres which improved handling and grip dramatically over the standard 15's shod with dodgy economy tyres.

However, I did lose a bit of acceleration from standstill, due to the extra inertia of the 17 inch rims.

I lost my licence in this vehicle doing 60 over (in an 80 zone) recently on Mt Ousley and was caught by a motorcycle cop. For those that don't know the road well, it is a very steep decent with good sweeping curves and the motorcycle officer struggled to catch me! He pinged me at the crest, and he must have been rather confused when he finally caught me at the bottom 5k's later. The little Coupe gave his Honda 1100 a real run for its money! Needless to say he was not amused with my boy racing shenanigans...

Overall, the car has been very, very reliable!

I've no complaints; it's been a very faithful car to me over the years.

Usually I change my cars every 12-18 months, but I don't want to let her go!

The handling is rather astonishing, considering it's a front wheel drive and there are very few cars this side of $50,000 that could out handle it!

As mentioned above, there are a few things I'll have to be replacing soon, but with almost 200,000k's of hard driving I'm not surprised by these, now aging parts...

I plan to spoil her with high performance goodies such as new suspenders, springs and bushes. Some new sway and stabiliser bars, engine work and gear ratio tweaking.

One complaint I have is the relatively low gearing, and I find myself constantly looking for a 6th gear. This little car can easily sit on 180k down the freeway if it wasn't revving so damned hard! 5,700 RPM at 180kph in fifth, but it feels very firmly planted to the road surface, even at this high speed, and could easily crack 200 if it had taller gearing!

One item I plan to rebuild is the gearbox and revise the gear ratios in 3rd, 4th and 5th, making them wind out more. And strengthen 1st and 2nd gears to cope with a few extra future ponies.

I'll be throwing a twin plate clutch for durability, and a lightened flywheel at her while I have the box out.

Due to the smoke, it's about time for a complete rebuild, so I'll be going all out, and every internal moving part will be replaced with high performance items, blueprinted and balanced.

The compression will be upped, as I want to keep her N/A, but would like to see 130kw at the wheels. Then she'll have the performance to match her stunning looks!

Prices for all the work I have outlined are approx $6,500, but once all this is done, I am sure I will have another 190,000k’s of happy, trouble free motoring…

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 25th February, 2007

4th Mar 2010, 01:26

You give me hope brother! LOL I just bought a used 97 like 3 weeks ago, and she has 215xxx on her already, but she drives like a champ!

24th Oct 2011, 13:43

Is the car still holding up well? I'm a student, looking to purchase a '99 Tiburon with 137,000 miles on it. Do you think it's a good investment?

19th Nov 2011, 14:11

Wow, I'm about to buy a Tiburon also. It is a 1998 and has 29,000 miles on it. It has been sitting for a little while because the owner had 2 other vehicles. The owner told me it has been a great car, and they have only replaced the timing belt. The car is now at a dealership, and the dealership is asking for $5000.00. Is that a steal?!

1998 Hyundai Tiburon FX 2.0 from North America


I love this car!


I needed to replace the brake rotors shortly after buying the car.

I also had to replace a wheel bearing and had both replaced the same time as the brake rotors. Changing the brake rotors requires a hydraulic press and is therefore a little pricey.

The passenger's side power window assembly broke.

I changed the timing belt per manufacturer's recommendations.

Shifting into reverse can be difficult, and often requires nearly engaging the clutch.

Half of LED's in spoiler brake light are out. It is a very expensive assembly to replace.

General Comments:

The car is small and lightweight. It does not handle snow well, but I moving to South Carolina remedied that situation rather well.

The girls want to ride in it, the guys want to drive it. It gathers attention everywhere it goes and people always ask, "What is it?"

I like the design much better than the newer models. However, the V-6 would be nice.

Power is adequate off the line. When driving in the Mid-West I am left behind by minivans - until I hit third gear. This car pulls well in third and fourth, and then settles down well in fifth for good gas mileage. I typically get 32-33 MPG when on the freeway. The aerodynamics are well matched with power so that I get the same fuel economy when driving 45 as I do at 75. In city driving I am averaging 25 MPG.

I find the front seats extremely comfortable. But the back seats are for show, especially the seat behind the driver (I am 5'11").

First gear can be frustrating at first, since you much be nearly stopped to shift into that gear.

People are surprised at how much cargo can be placed in this vehicle when the rear seats are dropped.

Factory radio has excellent sound. I love having both CD and cassette players.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 24th July, 2006

10th Feb 2007, 05:28

Excellent review, Tiburon is an awesome car especially Tiburon generation one. Reverse gear is a problem when you encountered a leak in the clutch slave cylinder. Replace thius unit and bleed the system, this should sort out your reverse problem. Other than that this car for its price, is an allrounder, for looks and performance.