Model: 2002 to 2008 Hyundai Tiburon
Vehicle Type: Sports Coupe
Approximate used price range: $5,000 to $17,000
History/Description: The Hyundai Tiburon is the successor to Hyundai’s Scoupe, and the predecessor of the now-available Genesis Coupe. Among other things, it was one of the sole survivors in an affordable sport-coupe market that’s now all but died out.
Tiburon offered up a two-litre, four cylinder engine with 138 horsepower and a standard five-speed manual gearbox. A four-speed manual-mode automatic was available. The four-cylinder, five-speed combination should provide adequate snap for most drivers while maintaining decent fuel economy.
Optionally available in higher-end models was a 2.7-litre V6 with horsepower rated in the neighborhood of 175. Look for it with a five-speed or available six-speed manual transmission, or with a manual-mode automatic.
Note that the Tiburon Tuscani is the fully loaded package, and was kitted with various interior and performance upgrades. If you can’t find a Tuscani (they’re rare), look for a Tiburon GT for the next best thing.
What owners like: Tiburon owners tend to most highly rate the styling, quality and design of their machines. Owners of four-cylinder models tend to experience good gas mileage, while owners of V6-powered Tiburon’s love the performance and sound of their rides. Also, many owners report that they belong to a strong online community of other Tiburon drivers that share ideas and advice.
What owners hate: Complaints typically address limited rear-seat space, limited storage space for at-hand items in front, and excessive road noise on certain models. Some find the Tiburon also has a cumbersome turning radius, and others complain of squeaks and rattles as the car ages.
Common issues: One prevalent issue dealt with the Tiburon’s clutch. Automatic models don’t have one, but if the ‘Tibby’ you’re after has a manual gearbox, you’ll want to ask the seller if the clutch is original. Be certain to test the clutch for slippage, which could indicate that it’s in need of replacement.
Sometimes, creating a low-rpm, high-load, full-throttle condition will coax slippage from a worn clutch. In plain English, get the car up to about 70 km/h in fourth gear, and floor it. Call any slippage you detect into pricing negotiations. If in doubt, ask a mechanic for assistance to be sure the seller isn’t trying to soak you with an expensive clutch job.
Note any unexplained check engine lights, and ensure the engine runs smoothly during both moderate and full-throttle acceleration, and while idling. Engine roughness or a check engine light could indicate a failed engine sensor that will need replacement.
Finally, note that heavily modified vehicles with extensive engine work should be avoided unless you’re very familiar with engine tuning. Suspension upgrades should be checked out by a mechanic for safety’s sake, too.
The verdict: Stick close to stock, get a thumbs up from a mechanic, and get ready to enjoy a one-of-a-kind coupe.