They should have called it the Hyundai Dogfish
Not tested long term.
The 2008 Hyundai Tiburon GT is named for the most fearsome creature to ever prowl our waters, the shark. Looking at it, it's easy to see why. Not everyone's tastes are the same as mine, but it pushed all of the right buttons somehow. It's tight and compact, yet its stance is wide and aggressive. The new headlamp cluster is prettier than the old one, but angrier too. This car just looks cool. Inside and out, in fact. Inside, the GT is trimmed with a Kenwood sound system that sounds great, supportive full-leather seats, and a gracious 6-speed shifter. Sitting in it is like sitting in the Porsche Boxster/Cayman with its ultra-low seating position; you can barely see out the frameless windows. It's easy to see the similarities between something so beautiful, yet aggressive...
Erm, right up until you turn over the engine and release the parking brake. The 2.7-liter V6 is the same amount of displacement and the same amount of cylinders you get from the Porsche Boxster. But while the Boxster gets 255-horsepower from it's engine, the Tiburon only gets 186. Which is actually okay, because the Tiburon and Boxster aren't even in the same solar system as far as competition goes. But then it goes sideways. Not literally, because that would be fun. No, the front-wheel-drive Tiburon handles okay with minimal body roll, but it isn't as planted as even a Mazda6. Now when I drove this car, I did have two passengers in a car designed to carry just one young adult human male, fifteen spare bottles of cologne, and an unused package of Trojans - but I've driven the Mazda6 with five people, plus some luggage faster... and that had 20-horsepower less than the Hyundai. And the shifter felt about on par with the (at the time) 9-year-old Mazda 626, and the gearbox is just as rubbery as the shifter. Acceleration, even with 186-horsepower wasn't entirely hopeless, though again, I would have expected more.
I really wanted to like this car, I really honestly did. To this day, I still think it's one of the better looking compact coupes you can buy with all of the proper sports car proportions and stance and interior design. But that's all it really is in the end, just a design. It's just a shame that it came from a time where Hyundai really was still working out how to build good cars. Which they now do... sort of, and because of their past, consumers don't believe them. Which is sad. There really is some value here, you just have to look past quite a long list of faults that revolve around actually using the vehicle for what it is meant to do in the first place, which is drive. Sure, it's fine as a point A point B personal commuter transport if you don't care about excitement, but wouldn't you rather have a more comfortable ride and luxurious interior than the made-for-NFS boyish racer looks? I would, and that's why I can't and don't really recommend the Tiburon, in any trim, to someone who enjoys the drive. (I also drove the four-cylinder version, which was even worse)
So then, they should have called it the Hyundai Dogfish... yes, it looks sort of like a shark and is kind of made of the same cartilage and scales and what not, but then it really doesn't attack prey like a shark. It just kind of swims along the bottom looking for prey that uhm, doesn't run when chased, like scallops or seaweed or something... The Hyundai Tiburon (which has been discontinued in favor of the true rear-wheel-drive sports car Genesis Coupe) is for those of us who are absolutely and completely enamored with style, and couldn't care less about things like how the car actually works.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 29th July, 2011