Avg. Price Paid:$7,387 - $9,643
Original MSRP: $17,270 - $22,770
MPG: 20 City / 28 Hwy
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2008 Hyundai Tiburon Performance

This performance review was written when the 2008 Hyundai Tiburon was new.

The Tiburon, reviewers find, provides sporty and responsive performance, especially with the optional V6 engine. Kelley Blue Book is representative of the consensus when it writes, "The new Tiburon excels in providing the driver with an exhilarating, exuberant ride." A four-cylinder engine is standard on the base model, but most reviewers recommend springing for the upgrade. Of the V6, the Los Angeles Times says, "The overall drivability of the engine and transmission package is excellent. The Tiburon surges in each gear with conviction and ease, accompanying itself with the mellow, husky timbre of its exhaust."

AutoWeek praises not only the Tiburon's "strong V6," but also its "good steering and predictable handling." The front-wheel-drive Tiburon gets generally good marks for its handling -- even though sports cars generally come equipped with a rear-wheel setup. The San Antonio Express-News reports, "Handling was rather crisp for a car as inexpensive as this, and I found the suspension to be tight and firm enough for curves."

Acceleration and Power

The 2008 Hyundai Tiburon comes with one of two engines -- a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 138 horsepower and 136 lb-ft of torque, and a 2.7-liter V6 that makes 172 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque. Few reviewers bother discussing the four-cylinder, preferring to discuss the more-powerful V6 and its impressive acceleration. "The first time you kick the pedal," asserts the Chicago Tribune, "you'll be surprised how quickly it responds."

The four-cylinder can be paired with a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic. Of the manual, Automotive.com says, "Shifts aren't so sharp because the lever has a long throw and the linkage isn't as tight as it might be. However the clutch action is smooth, especially on the upshifts." Consumer Guide says that the "automatic saps midrange punch" but the "manual shift gate compensates some." When paired with a manual, the engine gets an EPA-estimated 20 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. When paired with an automatic, it gets 20 mpg and 27 mpg in the city and on the highway, respectively.

Depending on trim level, the V6 can be paired with a four-speed automatic, a five-speed manual, or a six-speed manual transmission. The Kansas City Star says, "The V-6 is energetic and smooth. The variable valve timing makes it even more responsive around town. The added midrange torque combines nicely with the automatic transmission." Car and Driver finds, "The five-speed linkage moves more cleanly than before, and the clutch is light." Most reviewers argue that the pairing of the V6 with the six-speed manual offers the best performance. Kelley Blue Book calls them "a great combination for those who enjoy spirited driving." Fuel economy numbers are estimated by the EPA to be 17 mpg and 24 mpg with the five-speed, 16 mpg and 24 mpg with the six-speed, and 17 mpg and 24 mpg with the automatic.

Handling and Braking

The front-wheel-drive Tiburon's handling is commendable, reviewers find. "Purists will tell you there's only so much you can do with front-wheel drive," writes About.com. "Still, with some skillful engineering, one can do a lot while still maintaining a margin of safety and predictable behavior in panic maneuvers. The Tiburon, particularly the top-of-the-line SE model, comes pretty darn close to the edge." Consumer Guide reports that the Tiburon "corners with good grip," though it suffers "modest body lean" and "mild front-drive noseplow."

Slightly tweaked in 2007, the suspension leaves test drivers with mixed reactions. Kelley Blue Book says, "Enthusiastic driving shows commendable balance and the capability of the new suspension, even though the increased stiffness does result in some harshness over bumps and potholes." Cars.com cautions, "Hit a bump with the steering wheel anywhere off center, and things quickly unravel. The wheels will hop over any bumps while you're making gradual curves, and in tight corners even the slightest rut sends the front tires dancing." About.com, however, concedes that the Tiburon "will allow some very mild oversteer (fishtailing)," while arguing, "You really have to ham-first it in the curves to make that happen."

The steering, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, "is nicely geared -- not too fast, not too slow." Car and Driver calls it "accurate," but complains, "It's almost too quick upon turn-in and is occasionally disrupted by mild torque steer." As for the anti-lock brakes, Consumer Guide says they "furnish quick, drama-free stops." A reviewer for Cars.com reports, "I couldn't detect any fade after repeated hard stops."

Review Last Updated: 6/4/09

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