Hyundai Tiburon SE

I know what you’re thinking. The Tiburon is overly bright and sharky, not quite powerful enough to keep up with the likes of the competition and a bit of a faker, too. I say pshaw. So what if the Tib isn’t as fast as the V-6 Eclipse and the VW GTI. It’s still fun, from its looks to the 172 horses it lays on the ground. The handling could be better, sure, but it nonetheless provides more than enough grip around corners to thrill most drivers. The SE model – the one we drove – has a sport-tuned suspension and an electronically controlled stability system, which helps to make spirited driving more fun. 

Problem is, the suspension also makes for a harsh commute. The cabin is loud and rattling; hit a bump and you feel as though the car is coming apart at the screws.  Find a smooth stretch of pavement, however, and the steering tracks nicely, feels responsive and is more than quick enough. The front-end power, six-speed manual transmission and grippy rubber makes for a fun ride, even though the shifter and clutch pedal isn’t really a performance setup. Compared to the above Eclipse, I’d choose the Tiburon and escape the Mitsubishi’s more in-your-face torque steer, though I would forever wish for more power higher in the rev range, a more comfortable interior. Ah, but such is life in a coupe: big boys need not apply.  

Overall, driving the Tiburon is like running, and, just as you get to a sprint, having someone grab you by the belt loop and drag you down. And come to think of it, that’s not so fun after all.

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