Sports Appeal on a Budget
2004 Hyundai Tiburon GT

By Keith Burton

 Somehow the world seems a much better place when driving a fun, sporty car. But the world becomes supremely great when that sporty car looks sharp and is affordable. That wonderful feeling fits to a “T” regarding Hyundai’s sleek Tiburon coupe.

“Excuse me, Isn’t that the company that makes loose fitting cars from Korea?” you ask. Well, no, and yes. If you haven’t noticed lately, Hyundai is on a sales explosion nationwide as a result a sharp improvement in the overall quality and style of their cars. The Tiburon, which is “shark” in Spanish, is the company’s sporty entre’ in their lineup of vehicles.

At first glance, you may rightly be confused about the car. Its lines are reminiscent of a Ferrari mixed with a bit of Toyota Celica. Visually, its lines make the car appear larger than it is. It is a distinctive look that one person concluded was a Lexus. That is huge praise for any Hyundai product but not entirely warranted though Hyundai has to be credited for getting the look right for this car. But as one woman was heard to say, “This car has major sex appeal.”

All Hyundais are extremely well-equipped and our navy blue Tiburon GT is a good example. The GT package comes standard with a 170 hp V6, leather interior, CD stereo, air conditioning and power everything. The only options are a 5 or 6-speed manual transmission, or a four-speed manumatic transmission. Other options include a sunroof and 17-inch wheels. But we can tell you the standard 16-inch aluminum wheels look just fine.

The automatic features a nice manual shift mode that makes shifting between gears a fun thing to do. The automatic is just right for the coast with its frequent traffic jams, but the manual shift feature adds greatly to the sporty feel of the car. Still, the automatic will cut bottom line acceleration a bit.

The Tiburon has truly a stiff suspension, which adds to its handling and sporty feel. There is a price however. Every expansion joint and bump in the road is transmitted into the cabin with a loud thump and a jolt to the seat bottom. But hey, it’s a sports car, pick smooth roads and crank up the stereo, after all, life is good.

Why? Because of the price. This sporty car with excellent features and a truly fantastic 10-year powertrain warranty, can be purchased for under $16,000 for a four-cylinder version, or a just around $20,000 for one just like our tester. While there are cheaper cars out there, those are all compact cars and not in the same styling league as the Tiburon, which competes with the Toyota Celica, Mitsubishi Eclipse and Ford Mustang.

Inside, the Tiburon GT is all business, a sea of blackness with just a few bright elements to liven up the interior. It isn’t cheap looking, the materials are of good quality and fit and finish are excellent. You will like the design and the reddish-orange night lighting. While small on the outside, there is a surprising amount of space inside. The back seats are even tolerable for adults for extremely short trips.

Over all, the best word to describe this car is – cool. Isn’t life wonderful?
 

2004 Hyundai Tiburon GT

Vehicle:

3-door, 4-passenger coupe

Base Price:

Price as Tested

$18,599

$20,039

Major options:

Shiftronic 4 Speed Automatic Transmission

Engine:

V6-170hp@6,000, Torque 180lbs-ft. @4,000

Body Type:

Unibody

Wheelbase:

99.6"

Width:

69.3"

Weight:

3,041.

Towing Capacity:

N/A

Track, F/R:

58.7"/58.7"

Turning circle:

35.8 Ft.

Fuel cap:

14.5 gals

0-60mph:

8.1 sec

EPA fuel economy:(City/Hwy) Premium Fuel

20/26

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