HYUNDAI has taken a huge bite out of the price of its "shark``, the Tiburon, in a bid to spark renewed interest in the sporty coupe .
Tiburon is Spanish for shark and the speedster`s designers have given it a suitably sleek, sharp-edgedlook with fluted flanks and a purposeful profile. It even has "gills" in the front fenders.
When it hit the market more than two years ago, the striking V6-powered racing machine was priced at $41,000.
It has undergone a few price drops since then and the latest slashing is $3000 to a remarkably-competitive $31,990, plus on roads, for the six-speed manual. Tiburon V6 automatic is $33,680* and features Selectronic
transmission with a sequential clutchless manual mode. For a limited time, the Tiburon also comes with a bonus factory-fitted electric tilt/slide sunroof worth $1800.
The move is already paying dividends for Hyundai, with 93 sales reported for August, and many more expected in coming months.
In a segment almost full of four-cylinder models, Tiburon is now the only V6-powered sports car substantially under $60,000.
Tiburon also has MP3 capability in its quality six-speaker CD/tuner audio while a vibrant Exciting Blue metallic replaces a darker blue in Tiburon`s six-colour palette, which also offers Samba Red, as tested, and Ebony as well as silver, white and yellow.
The 2.0-litre, four-cylinder Tiburon variant has been discontinued.
Standard equipment in Tiburon V6 includes pollen-filtering air conditioning, dual front airbags, four-channel ABS anti-skid disc brakes with electronic brake force distribution, cruise control, remote central locking with alarm, electric windows and door mirrors, leather trimmed steering-wheel rim and auto gearshift knob, trip computer and a boot luggage net.
The coupe is well-connected to the road with 17"x 7" alloy wheels shod with low profile 215/45-series unidirectional performance tyres.
The initial response from most people who see the Tiburon is genuine surprise that it is a Hyundai.
No disrespect intended to the fast-improving Korean manufacturer, but in the design stakes this is really something out of the box. In fact, it`s arguably one of the best lookers going around.
Inside, Hyundai`s German and Korean design studios have complemented the striking exterior with some cabin fashion elements and attention to detail.
Contrasting with the charcoal theme interior are brushed alloy highlights on the centre dash panel, door switchgear panels, steering wheel, auto gearshift knob and (with rubber inserts) the pedals and the driver`s left foot rest. Instrumentation lighting is an orange-red glow.
Both front seats are sports type with deep side bolstering and correct anatomical cushion contouring for maximum enjoyment of Tiburon`s
exhilarating handling. The driver`s seat adjusts for tilt, height and lumbar support, the front passenger seat has a flip forward memory return to its pre-set position and the two rear seat backs have a 50/50 split/fold function.
Sports coupes are generally no place for lankier drivers and the Hyundai is no exception. Anyone over the six-foot mark will be struggling for head-room in this chariot.
Visibility is far from exceptional but again, that is not unusual in this class.
Tiburon is no light-weight and has a solid feel on the road.
Probably due to its weight, it`s acceleration is not in the breath-taking category, though it can get you from 0-100km/h in eight seconds, which is more than fast enough for most humans.
Despite its performance credentials, Tiburon V6 is still fuel efficient, with the manual using just 7.6 litres for every 100km of open road covered and about 11.6 zipping around town.
Tiburon is Hyundai`s first six cylinder sports car and also its first car with a six-speed manual gearbox.
Its 2.7 litre all-alloy twin-cam `Delta` V6 delivers up to 127kW of power at 6000rpm and maximum torque of 245Nm at 4000rpm.
Tiburon`s all-independent suspension is tuned for handling and agility appropriate for sports driving and includes premium German Sachs gas dampers and plenty of noise suppression elements to ensure a quiet ride.
Steering is direct with just 2.6 turns lock-to-lock for a 10.88 m turning circle between kerbs.
Tiburon build quality and engineering integrity is backed by Hyundai`s industry-best factory new car warranty of five years or 130,000km, as with all its other Hyundai stablemates.
Hyundai`s shark is aimed at the likes of the high-flying Toyota Celica and Honda Integra and while these are tough acts to follow, it has proved quite competitive in most areas.
The Tiburon may be bargain basement priced but it is more than worthy of consideration by those seeking a sexy sports car that can turn heads and back its looks with V6 performance and slick handling.