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2005 Hyundai Tiburon

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Justin Pritchard
Tiburon is the Spanish word for "shark" and when the original Tiburon was introduced in the mid 90s, it represented a daring take on styling in its class. Nothing could really compare in looks. It instantly stood out with a radical interior, sculpted bodywork, exaggerated curves and projector headlamps. The Tiburon had thrown conservative styling out the sunroof and sliced the envelope in half with its shark-fin spoiler. My kind of ride.

(Photo: Hyundai USA)
For 2005, much remains the same. The competitors are mostly familiar, the looks more refined, and the market is still highly driven by twenty-something folks who want fun, expressive low-buck cars. The difference for Hyundai lies in its achievement of a reputation for superior quality. So then, are you ready for just about the most legal fun you can have starting at under $26,000?

Sharks never stop moving, even while they sleep, and that's fitting because the styling of the new Tiburon makes it look like its speeding along even while it's standing still. Fender vents are styled like sharks gills. The sculpted lines and chrome gas cap cover demand attention and the dual chrome exhaust tips hold it until the car is out of sight. The front end is immediately serious and distinct- it doesn't look like a combination of a few other cars you have seen before and it still isn't afraid to stand out. It's arguably the real "looker" in its class. The racy styling carries on inside too, with metallic trim throughout the tastefully restrained cockpit which does the trick, lending itself to the cars overall sporting spirit, but without overdoing it. The leather and cloth seats in my SE model tester offered plenty of adjustments and bolstering but were padded and comfortable at the same time. Red accent stitching gives the interior flare without screaming for attention.

The Tiburon is a sports car - meaning there are some sacrifices. Sports cars handle well, so they don't have a plush ride. They are light, and therefore small, and therefore short on storage space for your belongings
(Photo: Hyundai USA)
and your friends. A V6 engine is available but my tester was a 4 cylinder with 138 horsepower. Here's the point: let's say you compromise and get a sports car: you want to be noticed and you adore the smell of leather and you don't have large friends. Then you compromise the actual performance by having your sports car with a four cylinder engine. If you go with the Tiburon, the compromise is a happy one. You pay a little over $25,500 (less if you can operate a clutch and gear lever) and you get all kinds of features like an MP3 player, sunroof, alloy wheels, fog lights, and even a security system. Then you get covered too- Hyundai has an unbeatable 120,000 kilometer power train warranty, for instance. Imagine how long it would take you to rack up that kind of mileage!

Seeing "four cylinder automatic" on the window tends to make sports car fans look away. Your mother probably drives a "four cylinder automatic" car to the grocery store. But I was impressed: the engine doesn't have a
(Photo: Hyundai USA)
ton of power, but it provides adequate motivation, loves to be revved, and doesn't sound wimpy. It only drinks a gallon of gas every 39 miles. The automatic shifts are very smooth, and the shiftronic feature is a load of fun once you get used to it- you may find yourself as I did forgetting to shift the gears in manual mode since there is no clutch to remind you to do anything. The shiftronic computer will compensate if you mess up, which is good, because I would have accidentally shifted down instead of up a few times while getting used to the system. If you share the car with someone who doesn't like a manual, this feature is ideal. Tap the lever forward to go into the next gear, pull it back to shift down. Pull it back twice and punch it from about 80 kph and you'll be wearing a grin in no time. Put it in drive if you're holding a coffee on the way to work. You get the idea.
Justin Pritchard
Justin Pritchard
Automotive expert
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