2008 Hyundai Tiburon Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
August 18, 2008

As good as 2008 Hyundai Tiburon is, its resale value is hurt by the poor quality of earlier models. It's important that you anticipate steep depreciation before committing.

Editors from TheCarConnection.com studied reviews of the 2008 Hyundai Tiburon and have condensed them into this conclusive review. TheCarConnection.com's team has also driven the Hyundai Tiburon in order to provide you with firsthand advice about it. This review also compares the 2008 Hyundai Tiburon with other vehicles in its class to assist you in forming your own opinion about this sporty front-wheel-drive coupe.

The Hyundai Tiburon was introduced in 1997--ages ago when you're considering Hyundai automobiles. Hyundai has proven that it can dramatically improve the quality of its vehicles quickly. The transformation between the first Tiburon (meaning "shark" in Spanish) and the second-generation car that came on line as a 2003 model is nothing short of revolutionary.

The 2008 Hyundai Tiburon that you're reading about is a second-generation model, but benefits from continuous upgrades ever since. In recent years, Hyundai has improved Tiburon by adding features and refining the front-wheel-drive coupe's styling.

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Today, the 2008 Hyundai Tiburon is offered in four trim levels: GS, SE, GT, and GT-Limited. There are minor differences between trims, but overall the exterior style has matured, especially since the design refresh completed for 2007. Inside, detailing is good, particularly in the high-performance SE model, which gets aluminum pedals, red and black bucket seats, and plenty of other performance equipment.

The entry-level 2008 Tiburon GS features a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 138 horsepower. Matching transmissions include a fuel-efficient five-speed manual and an available four-speed automatic with Hyundai's SHIFTRONIC system. Economy for 2008 is 20 mpg city/28 mpg highway with manual transmission, 20 mpg city/27 mpg highway with the automatic.

The 2008 Tiburon GT, SE, and GT Limited benefit from the more powerful all-aluminum 2.7-liter V-6 rated at 172 horsepower. A five-speed manual is standard, while a six-speed ZF manual comes with the performance-oriented Tiburon SE. A four-speed automatic with SHIFTRONIC is available on the GT and GT Limited. Fuel economy estimates for 2008 are 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway for both the Tiburon GT and GT Limited, regardless of transmission. The new SE yields 16 mpg city/24 mpg highway.

Editors at TheCarConnection.com prefer the performance of the V-6 to the four-cylinder, but even with the six, the 2008 Hyundai Tiburon isn't the sportiest of sportscars. The V-6 is rather lazy when it comes to revving, so don't expect Formula One-style throttle response during your test drive. On the road, the Tiburon also rides stiffly. This is fine, given the young buyers Hyundai targets, but it gets a little tiring for older drivers who have already matured past wanting to drive a go-kart to work, week in and week out.

The Tiburon SE, with its sport suspension, hustles pretty well. You'll never mistake the Tiburon for a rear-wheel-drive sportscar, but it acquits itself nicely. This reality, by the way, is why Hyundai recently introduced its rear-wheel-drive Genesis Coupe (with standard V-6 power and an optional V-8).

Quality, once a genuine and tangible problem with Hyundai products, isn't a problem with the 2008 Hyundai Tiburon. For an inexpensive car, the materials and assembly quality are darn good. Even though the Tiburon is a four-seater, the backseats are little more than butt pockets--better for grocery bags or purses than friends you want to keep.

Equipment levels fit Hyundai's strategy of marketing vehicles that are well equipped in their standard forms. For example, 2008 is the year Hyundai made a 220-watt Kenwood AM/FM/XM Satellite Radio/CD/MP3 audio system standard and decided to throw in three months of free service XM Satellite Radio service. This is in addition to the Tiburon GS's standard power windows, door locks, heated mirrors, a remote keyless entry system with alarm, ABS brakes, and advanced front and front side impact airbags.

The next step up is the Tiburon GT, which adds the V-6 engine, larger 17-inch wheels, seats with leather bolsters and cloth inserts, automatic temperature control, cruise control, and a trip computer. The GT Limited dresses up by making the leather front seat bolsters red. (Get out your party hats!)

Designed to be the performance poster child for the 2008 Hyundai Tiburon family, the SE gets a more prominent rear spoiler, red aluminum front calipers, aluminum pedals, red leather bolster/black cloth insert seats, ESC with Traction Control System (TCS) and Brake Assist, a track-tuned sport suspension, and larger, fade-resistant cross-drilled brake rotors. This goes with the V-6 engine and six-speed manual gearbox.

A power tilt-and-slide sunroof is available on all models.

All 2008 Tiburon models include anti-lock brakes and side airbags for the front seats. Stability and traction control are standard on the SE. Performance in government crash tests was good.

Hyundai also backs it the 2008 Tiburon with a 5-year/50,000-mile basic warranty plus a 10-year/100,000-mile warranty on the powertrain. This excellent warranty coverage goes a long way toward addressing quality concerns over this Korean 2+2 and shifting the opinions people have.

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