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Cars Worth Noting – 2003 Hyundai Tiburon

Hyundai’s sports car has matured. The goofy-looking original version has grown into a rather sophisticated and stylish competitor. My 19 year old son, scanning the Tiburon in our driveway went as far as to say it looked like a small Ferrari and I have to agree. Hyundai designers did manage to fuse a little 360 Modena DNA into the Tiburon design. But don’t expect that DNA to go much farther than the skin.

While the interior doesn’t say Ferrari, it still says sports car. You’re surrounded in black, black leather seats, dash and black center stack. The only things that stand out are the two important gauges (speed and tach), blackfaced and trimmed in brushed metal with glowing orange dials and the Hyundai “H” staring at you from the center of the steering wheel.
The back seat serves better as a storage bench than a seating device. Smaller passengers are swallowed up in a sea of black surrounded by the C-pillars. Amazingly, visibility isn’t an issue for those of us who use our mirrors when driving.
The downside of our Tiburon was an automatic transmission where the five-speed should have been.

The 2.7L V-6 seemed a little anemic on launch, even when the gears were shifted manually. Handling was on par with anything in its class. The steering felt good, not heavy or over assisted and the car cornered well, feeling planted to the ground on its 17-inch Pilot summer tires.

While the Tiburon can’t exude the performance of a more expensive sports car, it does a stylish job of masquerading as one.

Sitting at a light on the way to the mall, a teenage girl in a Pontiac Grand Am gave the Tiburon the once over, then asked her passenger boyfriend, “what’s that?”

I wasn’t around to hear his answer. I’m still hoping he told her it was a Ferrari.

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Fri. July 12th, 2024

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