In the realm of sport coupes that aren’t ridiculously fast, there isn’t a single car I think of more than the Hyundai Tiburon (known as the Coupe in Europe and the Middle East, and the Tuscani in South Korea and Indonesia). I always wanted one of these with the GT V6 package. A leather trimmed, 172 horsepower sport coupe that was backed by Hyundai reliability? Where do I sign? Well see, there’s the problem, they don’t make the Tiburon anymore, in fact, they haven’t made the Tiburon since 2008.
1st Gen Hyundai Tiburon/Coupe/Tuscani / Photo Sourced from consumerguide.com
It all started with the death of the Hyundai Scoupe in 1995, and the announcement of it’s successor, the Tiburon, pictured above. This coke-bottle designed coupe was Hyundai’s answer to the Ford/Mercury Cougar, Honda/Acura Integra and Toyota Celica, to name a few. The Tiburon had two engine choices, either the 1.8L, 130 horsepower four-cylinder from the Elantra of the time, or a 2.0L four-cylinder producing 140 horsepower. The big engine was capable of pulling the Tiburon up to sixty miles per hour in a reasonable 8.2 seconds. Sales were also slower than it’s rivals, averaging just 9,000 sales per year for the first generation.
2nd Gen Hyundai Tiburon/Coupe/Tuscani / Photo Sourced from flagstaffotos.com.au
The second-generation Tiburon debuted for 2003. The car grew longer, and wider, but also put on about 200 pounds in the process. The 2.0L carried over as the base engine and the Delta 2.7L V6 was made available in the Tiburon GT V6. The GT V6 was a hot car, packing 172 horsepower, it dropped the Tiburon’s 0-60 run to a respectable seven seconds.
I remember seeing a couple of these driving around my hometown, with loud exhausts, and I thought it was one of the coolest vehicles in the world. I still maintain that is one of the better all-round driver’s cars in the world.
Face-lifted 2nd Gen Hyundai Tiburon/Coupe/Tuscani / Photo sourced from DDTG on Youtube
The face-lift for the second-generation Tiburon brought a lot of updates. The updated front fascia and headlights brought the Tiburon into the mid-2000s, but the engines were all carried over without any major changes. Stability control, sunroof, side airbags, aluminum accents, and a new blue back-light for the instrument cluster were all added for 2007. The UK got a special TSIII edition that included quad exhaust outlets and a quilted leather interior.
Fully loaded, the last version of the Tiburon could be had for under $23,000 which made it an incredibly practical price, but the V6 Premium Ford Mustang of the same era started at about $20,000 and on the other end of the coupe market, the Honda Accord made the same power as the Tiburon’s V6 from a more efficient four-cylinder, and started around $23,000. Not to mention that a Volkswagen Golf GTI was more fun, had more power, had a more practical trunk, and was just as quick to sixty.
Hyundai Coupe TSIII Edition / Photo Sourced from carscoops.com
And ultimately, that’s what killed the Tiburon, better and cheaper sport coupes. While this was a great competitor for the Cougar, Integra and Celica, it couldn’t hold it’s own in the market, not to mention the cheap sport coupe market eventually petered out, and that is a shame, because what we got in it’s place, the Genesis Coupe and Veloster, just don’t have the same sort of presence that the Tiburon did. The Genesis Coupe was too big, and the Veloster was too much of a hatchback.
Maybe I’m lost in the glory of a car that in reality was never really good enough to shake that practical Hyundai charm to be a really good sport coupe, but I will say it was one of the most stylish coupes, and I never miss the chance to shoot an envious look at the driver of these on the road.
I had almost completely forgotten this car existed until I saw one on the road the other day, and rekindled my love for these. Like just look at it again and tell me that it doesn’t look like it’s going to be fun, and good to drive. Maybe the front-wheel-drive layout turned people off because it didn’t drive as well as it’s sporty body style lead on, and it wasn’t hatchback-ish enough to be a decent Golf GTI competitor. Who knows, all I know is that if there was any car I could bring back from the dead, with zero miles on the clock, it’d be one of these.
What do you think? Am I crazy? Should this thing stay dead, or should Hyundai bring back this amazing sports coupe? Comment below!