Extremely enjoyable, fun to drive and reliable
The only thing that went wrong with the car was a mistake on my part when installing an intake, and it was an easily correctable error that caused no after effects.
On one occasion the digital display (odometer, current gear etc) has glitched out and ceased displaying for a few minutes at a time, and for those couple minutes I had to switch to shiftronic mode to shift up or down. This problem has not resurfaced ever since.
While the Tiburon is a slightly "fat" car as far as power-to-weight ratio in it's class, it is distinctive in the fact that in my opinion, as well as others', it is the most fun to drive.
The sufficient 181ft/lb of torque supplied from the factory makes the daily drive to work enjoyable and twisty roads a lot more fun. Before I go on, I must say I have modified my car with an aftermarket cold-air intake, a carbon fiber hood, and a complete suspension rework (struts/sway bars/strut bars/springs/underbody chassis frame).
I actually was sold on a test drive of the four-cylinder, which I thought was actually quite fun to drive as it is. I walked into the dealer one day, and asked for a V6, automatic with ABS brakes, and nothing else. Granted it took me EIGHT HOURS to purchase this car from the dealer (they really didn't want to sell me an ABS or auto car) and I was repeatedly told I wanted the 6-speed (though I didn't) by the salesman.
I have had zero manufacturer defects, however I do believe the interior of the car leaves something to be desired in places, specifically the door handles, which feel like they were manufactured by Mattel for a Barbie toy. This has been remedied somewhat in the 2005 model however. The sunroof issue has been resolved in the 2004 model, or at least so I am told by Hyundai mechanics I know, and mine functions properly to this day.
I will not beat around the bush; this car, stock, is not terribly impressive. It is however, extremely promising in stock form, and simply the best value in it's class for the price tag, bar none. Stock handling is relatively tight, with a good deal of nose plowing with the heavy-nosed V6, and a bit much on the chassis roll side of things.
For a shade under $2000, I've tightened up the car to the point that it handles as well/better than cars costing thousands more. With a good set of tires on, I scare bikers with turn speeds in the mountain highways.
If you buy this car, I hereby obligate you to installing an intake (~$180) and exhaust (~$450) as it will dramatically change your driving experience, and let you feel the car without it's highly restrictive factory intake and exhaust systems.
For around town and suburban city driving, I think this car is possibly the perfect mixture of performance factors and handling to make your daily driving both fun and easy. It's not underpowered and sluggish (read: it can merge into fast moving freeway traffic without waiting for high revs) neither is it overpowered or uncontrollable. I am six foot two and fit comfortably in the cab with plenty of leg room, and enough head room. You would be well off to simply remove the backseat, it is close to functionless, and if you do, you'll save maybe ~60lbs of weight on a car that needs a diet in stock form.
The car's fuel computer runs off of a MAF sensor which reads airflow and adapts accordingly, so it responds to modifications quite well. However the fuel computer in stock form runs very rich, and this is the main source of the Tiburon's mediocre fuel economy (as well as hot-dog driving).
For a reasonable amount (around $200) a fuel computer (Apexi offers one, Next Generation Motorsports offers one) and an hour on the dyno will lean out your curve, give you back a little bit of mileage and even a few horsepower.
For the gearheads: This car, oddly enough, is timed about 2º fast from the factory. Retard your timing back a couple degrees and voila, 5hp early in the power band. Don't believe me? Stick it on a dyno.
The aftermarket for this car is gradually growing, however Hyundai, being a very conservative company, is very slow to catch on to the aftermarket. Many Tib owners feel as if their car is just inherently slower or of poorer reputation simply because the aftermarket is not there.
The truth about the Tib aftermarket is that unlike Honda, Toyota and Mitsubishi, Hyundai Motor America is just not the kind of company that has millions of dollars to devote to factory tuner programs like the others do. This may change in the future, but for the time being, the aftermarket for the Tiburon is a nationwide, very tight-knit community of tuners who are proving to the world the quality of vehicle Hyundai now manufactures.
In conclusion, for the price tag, nowhere else can you find a sport compact as attractive and accomodated with equal options and build quality.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 18th July, 2005