2002 Hyundai Tiburon

2002 Hyundai Tiburon

Hyundai Tiburon coupe arrived in Australia in March 2002 to somewhat mixed reviews. The biggest stumbling block to sales was the unusual styling. A minor facelift in February 2005 didn’t make a lot of difference to the overly Asian shape, but a major reshape in February 2007 was a winner. Though it retained the same overall silhouette the ’07 Tiburon looked so much better that it could have been an all-new design.

At the start but Tiburon’s price was somewhat optimistic for a South Korean company that still sat low in the image stakes. Prices were slashed and sales lifted to a reasonable level, so there are quite a few on the used-car scene.

Coupes have made a comeback in Australia in the last couple of years. Hyundai’s own Veloster with its striking shape and interesting door layout grabbed a lot of attention, but the biggest publicity came from the Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 twins. Prices of Tiburons may increase due to this renewed interest in coupes, no promises though…

2007 Hyundai Tiburon

2007 Hyundai Tiburon

The South Koreans have a similar attitude to Australians in their likes of good chassis dynamics and driving pleasure. So the Tiburon has a nicely neutral feel and gives good feedback through the steering. It’s not going to rival the big name Europeans but is a lot better than you might expect, particularly if you invest in a good set of sporting tyres.

Interior room is pretty good in the front seats of the Tiburon coupe, chiefly because front-wheel drive through a transverse engine takes up less space. The rear seat is about average for this class, meaning it’s much better suited to kids than adults. Access to the rear seats of the Hyundai Tiburon requires a degree of flexibility, but we have seen worse.

When launched in Australia the Tiburon came with a choice between a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine producing a somewhat lacklustre 102 kW, and a 2.7-litre V6 with a healthier, though still not outstanding, 127 kW. The latter output dropped marginally to 123 kW with the introduction of the 2007 model because the old-design engine had to be modified to meet new emission regulations.

2007 Hyundai Tiburon

2007 Hyundai Tiburon

The four-cylinder engine was withdrawn from the Australian lineup midway through 2004. At the same time the price of the V6 was drastically reduced, to the extent that the V6 was then cheaper than the four-cylinder had been at the time of its 2002 introduction.

Transmission is by a five-speed manual with the four-cylinder engine, and a six-speed manual beside the V6. A four-speed automatic transmission is available with both engines, its relative lack of ratios is partly counterbalanced by it having sequential-manual modes that let a keen driver make their own decision about which gear the Tiburon needs.

Build quality has improved markedly in Hyundai cars in the last few years. Tiburon is one of the older generation models but isn’t too bad in the quality stakes. Our ‘what to look for’ section will give you some advice on areas of possible concern.

A good amateur mechanic can do a fair bit of work on this car as the design is relatively simple. As always, it’s sensible to leave the safety related items to the experts.

There seems to be some confusion among insurance companies as to what class the Tiburon falls into, so it’s worth shopping around for a good deal. As always, make sure you’re comparing apples with apples.

Check the remote locking is working correctly on Tiburons made before 2005.

Electric windows that are reluctant to work aren’t unknown in early models.

Look for power steering hoses that are swollen and/or leaking oil.

While bodies are generally good, interiors can be of variable build quality. Check for untidy edges between plastic panels, minor controls that don’t fit neatly and controls that are stiff or sloppy in operation.

Listen and feel for hesitation from the engine when it’s suddenly asked to work hard.

Make sure the manual gearbox has reasonably slick changes and that there’s no grinding or jamming during fast downshifts.

Check for uneven tyre wear, especially at the front wheels. This can be an indication of harsh driving.

Expect to pay from $2000 to $4000 for a 2002 Hyundai Tiburon four-cylinder; $4000 to $8000 for a 2006 Tiburon V6; $7000 to $11,000 for a 2004 four-cylinder; $9000 to $14,000 for a 2005 V6; $13,000 to $19,000 for a 2007 V6; and $17,000 to $24,000 for a 2009 V6.

Having finance on standby before walking into a used-car yard puts you in a stronger bargaining position.

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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