The 2008 Hyundai Tiburon is a sleeper in V-6 form, and a reasonably efficient commuter with its base four-cylinder.
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. It’s strictly an economy-minded powerplant, and few reviewers mention it or its performance. The V-6 engine is a different story. Automobile notes "low-end grunt is minimal but there is enough midrange power to manage highway merging and passing without too much drama." Automotive.com remarks that "the [Hyundai] Tiburon SE's V6 engine makes 172 horsepower, considered modest for this class nowadays, but it makes a nice throaty sound when you rev it to its 6500 rpm redline." Cars.com says it “delivers sprightly acceleration from a standing start through much of the rev range,” but notes it “lacks the ferocity of a V-6 Mitsubishi Eclipse or the high-revving punch of a Volkswagen GTI.”
Edmunds feels the manual transmission in the GT version is “a better choice,” and “The 5-speed manual transmission is user-friendly.” With the six-speed Tiburon SE, Automobile says that "although the gearshifter is notchy, the clutch take-up is linear,” while Cars.com notes, “Shifting gears is something of a mixed bag. The gearshift's throws are a bit long, and those accustomed to snappy footwork will bemoan the lengthy clutch.” Automotive.com reports that the Hyundai Tiburon 2008 "SE's six-speed gearbox is good, and the clutch is smooth, but the shift lever has too long a throw to feel tight...heel-and-toe downshifts are challenging because of the pedal locations." ConsumerGuide contends "a 6-speed SE clocked 0-60 mph in 7.7 sec with firm, precise shift action. Automatic-transmission models are noticeably slower; Hyundai observes 0-60 mph in "8.2 sec.” ConsumerGuide adds, “The automatic saps midrange punch, but using the manual shift gate helps."
No sources comment specifically on fuel economy, but EPA estimates are given as 20/28 mpg for the four-cylinder model and manual gearbox, 20/27 mpg for the four-cylinder automatic; it’s 16/24 mpg for the V-6-equipped SE models.
Handling is not especially sporty, but it's not bad; Automobile reports that "although the ride is a little brittle, the Tib at least is more fun to drive when you start pushing it, which is one reason it remains popular with street tuners...steering is uncommunicative but direct." Cars.com notes "the Tiburon's shapely lines don't quite translate to the sporty driving experience one might expect...the ride is bouncy on rough pavement," and adds that "even though the car stays properly on course, it doesn't impart a full sense of security." ConsumerGuide says while steering "is a bit light (except on SE)...it is quick and informative." This source remarks, "ABS brakes furnish quick and drama-free stops." Finally, Edmunds comments that the Hyundai Tiburon 2008 "is confident but not eager, and its steering is a bit slow and numb...however, when driven in a relaxed manner, this Hyundai performs capably and delivers a smooth ride."