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LOOKING GOOD ON THE LAMB

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Thu, Sep 6, 2007

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

A LAMB IN COYOTE CLOTHING? By Gordon Bleam When walking towards the Hyundai Tiburon, your pulse accelerates and the fight (or flight) instinct goes into ready mode. Open the door, and you see the formed driver's seat beckoning to embrace your body. You give in and steal your body into the flight cockpit feel of the seat. Insert the key. The V-6 turns over effortlessly, and the tonal quality of the exhaust helps your heartbeat gather speed. Look down and see the six speed, short throw transmission and tachometer with the 6500 RPM plus red-line. It is time to take your Nitroglycerine pills and check your pacemaker batteries. Blood pressure, heart beat and senses are peaked and ready for battle as you slip the gear-shift lever into gear and let out the clutch slowly meandering through the parking lot toward the launch area.

The streamlined bullet easily slips to the edge of the parking lot and gets ready to merge into Southern California traffic. You see an opening in the traffic line easily big enough for this bullet with a V-6 and you set your sights, calculating the optimum entry angle and estimating the necessary torque and acceleration needed to acquire your place in the stampeding herd. Your clutch foot lets just a little bit slip until you feel it start to bite and get ready for your inauguration into the Hyundai Tiburon SE's world of expected power, ego and torque. Here we go. The liftoff is here and you let the engine roar and feel the 215/45R17 tires grab the pavement. You lean into the accelerator waiting to feel the pressure on your chest from the Tiburon. You continue to press further and further wondering if you're in the wrong gear. You glance down and make sure you're in first and not third gear and the brake isn't on. You hear the exhaust note stimulating your feel of the power you must be producing but your speed is not what you had calculated to smoothly merge into the opening in traffic. You wind the RPM up past 3,000, 4,000 then 5,000 and yet still no great acceleration and you see the tachometer's red-line coming up fast so you push it past 6,000 before shifting into second.

By now you are dedicated to attempting a safe merger, and you see you are very close to being honked at. But you remember how sleek and spirited the car looks and you hear the V-6 performing (harmonically at least) so you push forward and make it without looking like a octogenarian Sunday driver (barely). The Hyundai Tiburon SE is a great-looking and sounding car. Based on its styling and price point, you might compare it to the Volkswagen GTI, Honda Civic Si or MazdaSpeed3. In doing so, however, you'll soon realize that the Tiburon is at the bottom of the feeding chain. Hyundai would probably prefer that you to compare it with the Scion tC. The Tiburon will score well against the Scion, but Hyundai may have done itself a disservice by the hot styling and lackluster V6. In 2010, Hyundai is expected to release a rear-wheel drive, V8-powered Tiburon. Now we're talking.

A few more nits to pick: If you're in the vehicle and someone opens the rear hatch, the whole vehicle shutters. It sounds like the door had sprung but it is just the tight fitting seals and the size of the hatch. If you're taller then five-eleven, this car is not the most comfortable fit. The ceiling is a tad too close and the seat doesn't provide enough leg room to drive comfortably. The SE comes with a Kenwood AM-FM radio with 220 Watts and six speakers, CD player, MP3 player, WMA player - and it looks like your son installed it. It doesn't match the rest of the center console finish, but the sound is pretty good. Hyundai uses small LCD screens in the center counsel for clock and outside temperature and in the instrument cluster for trip OD and drive-time. These screens are coated with a polarized film to reduce glare. Polarization is a great idea, but if your sunglasses are also polarized, you may find the screens unreadable. Finally, the air conditioning has a hard time keeping the two passengers cool if the outside temperature is above 85 degrees.

All nit-picking aside, the car looks great going down the road or just sitting there in a parking lot. It certainly looks more expensive than its $22,095 MSRP suggests. If all that matters is how good you look, the Tiburon has it all over the aforementioned VW, Honda, Mazda or Scion. I would, however, suggest a test drive to see if you fit - and if the abundant show is enough to make up for the lack of go. SUMMARY JUDGMENT Slow in motion, but fast-looking sitting still. For more information about Hyundai products, see www.hyundai.com.

SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2007 Hyundai Tiburon SE Price: Base $22.095, as tested $22,095 SE Model options include: Sunroof, 220w Kenwood CD Radio, track-tuned suspension with upgraded brakes, an electronic stability system, a larger rear spoiler, auxiliary dashboard gauges and a six-speed manual transmission. Engine type: 2.7-liter V-6, 172 hp Dual Overhead Cam Horsepower: 172 @ 6000 rpm Torque: 181 lb.-ft @ 3100 rpm EPA mileage estimates City/ Highway: 18/26; 14.5 gallon fuel capacity Drive configuration: Front engine / front wheel drive Transmission type: Manual 6-speed Rear axel ratio 4.43:1 Suspension: Independent front and rear Wheels and tires: 17-inch aluminum wheels, P215/45R17 BSW tires Brakes: 4-wheel discs with ABS Variable assist power rack/pinion steering Overall length/wheelbase: 173.0 inches/99.6 inches Overall width: 69.3 inches (excluding mirrors) Overall height: 52.4 inches Not recommended for towing Hyundai warranty includes 5YR/60,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty, 10YR/100,000 mile power train warranty, 6YR/unlimited mile 24-hr roadside assistance, 7YR/Unlimited mile Anti-Perforation (rust) Limited Warranty. All warranty aspects are fully transferable to family members at no cost.

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