Named for the Spanish word for shark, the Hyundai Tiburon retains its ichthyoidal profile for 2005, but substitutes an upright slot for 2004’s fishy fender “gills”. Other exterior changes include redesigned headlights and lower front fascia, new mirrors and refashioned taillights. Inside, all models now get a CD/MP3 player with six speakers, while the SE gets red cloth seat inserts, and SE and Tuscani get red stitching on the door trim panels. The Tuscani now comes standard with a four-speed automatic, which can be optioned up to a six-speed manual.

Another change is that Hyundai’s powertrain warranty, hiked with much fanfare to 7 years/120,000 km for 2004, has been very quietly returned to 5 years/100,000 km for 2005. American buyers still get a 10-year powertrain warranty.

The Tiburon comes with two engines, a 2.0-litre four-cylinder or a 2.7-litre V6.

The base Tiburon starts with the four-cylinder, along with 16-inch alloy wheels and Michelin tires, four-wheel disc brakes, power windows, locks and mirrors, fog lights, the CD/MP3 player, and rear wiper/washer.

The SE builds on that, adding air conditioning, keyless entry, cruise control, power sunroof, auto-down on the driver’s side window, leather-wrapped steering wheel and luggage net.

The six goes exclusively into the Tuscani, which adds 17-inch wheels, sport-tuned suspension, heated leather seats, ABS, automatic climate control, metal pedals, side marker lights, and interior metal trim.

The Tiburon comes with all the drawbacks inherent to the breed: poor rear visibility, an almost unusable back seat, harsh noisy ride, and no graceful way to enter or exit the vehicle. But for bang-for-the-buck, all-out driving fun, this may be one of the best deals out there, even in four-cylinder configuration. While lacking the V6’s aggressive acceleration, the 2.0-litre remains a zippy little machine that, in base but well-equipped form, comes in just a hair over 20 grand.

By comparison, a base Toyota Celica with similar convenience features to the SE is only two extra horsepower, and it’s $2,005 more and doesn’t include SE’s sunroof; Celica’s higher-performance four-cylinder makes 180 hp to the Tuscani’s 172 hp but is an extra $5,335 over the six-speed-equipped Tiburon. Hyundai certainly doesn’t match Toyota’s sterling reputation among buyers, but five grand is … well, five grand.

The Hyundai Tiburon is built in Ulsan, South Korea.

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