When you call a sporty coupe Tiburon, which means shark in Spanish, it had better have the huevos to live up to the image of the most feared predator in the sea. Well, the first generation Hyundai Tiburon was closer to a guppy, with styling that came apparently from some high school boy’s doodlings in shop class. This was a car with more lumps, bumps, swoops and silly boy-racer goofiness than you could find anywhere outside of a Pontiac showroom. And the wheezy 2.0 liter four didn’t exactly inspire Jaws-like fear in the competition.
The new Tiburon, though, was much closer to the mark. But then, it went away and suddenly, there is the coupe version of the Genesis sedan. They say it isn’t a Tiburon replacement, but it sure looks like one. And after a week with it, that’s OK by me.
Let’s talk about what’s good first, because so much is. The body is just flat gorgeous. There is a little Ferrari on the side, a little Mustang in the profile, and a little Maserati in the nose. Hey, as GM designer Bill Mitchell once observed when accused of stealing design ideas for the Seville from Rolls Royce… “If you’re going to steal, you steal from a bank, not a grocery store.” The shape is clean, modern, sporting and just plain good to look at. Toyota and Honda should have a coupe this gorgeous in their lineups.
Under the hood, there is now a choice of a turbocharged 2.0-liter with 274 horsepower, or the new 2.8-liter V6 with 306 stallions pulling from the front wheels. With a curb weight of around 3000 pounds, that’s plenty, and performance won’t embarrass that guy in the Mustang GT, but you’ll be right on his tail.
The sports suspension with the 19-inch alloy wheels shod with Bridgestone Potenza sport tires, Brembo brakes and stiff shocks handled everything I could throw at it. The car cornered with authority and the gearing in the optional 6-speed transmission is perfectly chosen to make use of the rev-range of the turbo. That combo, by the way produces 0-60 times of 5.7 seconds and 21 mile per gallon city mileage and 30 on the highway. And it all comes in a package costing $27,000.
Now for the negatives…well, I couldn’t really find any. Considering a base 370Z or BMW 135 starts around 30K, this is one sweet deal. Hyundai has done what in the early days made Jaguar such a hit. They gave the customer exotic looks and good performance at a bargain price. Funny, that formula still works.