2008 Hyundai Tiburon

In Spanish, Tiburón is a word that translates to "Shark". In North American English, Tiburon is a word that roughly means "underwhelming".

Beginning in 1996, Hyundai decided it wanted to make a sporty coupe. By automotive standards they may as well have been born yesterday, and they wanted to make something cheap and fast, something to push outside their respectable but boring image of "maker of sturdy basic cars". By the second generation, they'd nailed down some pretty nice styling, inspired by Ferrari to the point that rumors swirled about Pininfarina's involvement, and Car & Driver lauded it's style for money value. A large rear hatch and four seats even made it pretty practical.

But about the rest of it? Well....

You'd be hard pressed to find much positive written about the Tiburon, especially by the second generation. While the car was cheap, resting at $18,494 for a base model, it sat firmly within it's class, and didn't make much effort to impress.

The higher end V6 model pushed ahead of a contemporary Celica by .2 seconds in a 0-60, and apparently beat conteporary RS-Xs and Eclipses by over a foot in braking. But that 0-60 time was still a sluggish 7 seconds, and those results only got worse if you spec'ed down to the Beta II inline four visible here, which put out 136 horsepower, trailing behind contemporary sports coupe competitors. Add in a heavy transmission that clunked around like a junker out of the factory, coupled to lifeless steering and a bumpy suspension, and the negatives start to stack.

Fit and finish issues only decreased the car's likability, and by 2022 this example had been thrown to the wolves, winding up in a Fort Pierce junkyard. It's not a massively rare car, but with only a hair over 9,000 units shifted in the 2008 model year, it's no junkyard regular either, putting it into the slot of forgotten middle-models that honestly catch my interest more than they should.

While I've spent most of this post ragging on this thing, I have to admit I quite like the look of the car, even if the interior is pretty bland to my eyes. I'm a sucker for a good hatch, and as a fan of old economy cars and daily driver of a truck with a slipping transmission, power ratings don't sway me awful much. And there is some love for the car, inbetween the scathing contemporary industry press. It *was* cheap, and excepting a bad habit for the rocker panels to rust out and for them to get thrashed by new drivers, they're pretty reliable, being mostly an Elantra with a much prettier shell. There's even a dedicated subreddit for the machines, and their cheap price both new and on the used market led to them getting some mods down the line.

This post was written and published on January 28th, 2023 by an amateur car enthusiast doing their best to swirl personal ancedotes and contemporary press without flatly plagarizing Car & Driver.