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By Bob McHugh
An upstart Hyundai Motor Company rocked the auto world in 1993 when it
showed a sleek and curvaceous concept car known as the HCD (Hyundai
California Design) -II, on the North American auto show circuit. Until then,
car buyers tended to think of a new Hyundai as a “good used-car alternative”
and what better way to break that mindset than with an image-leader sports
The full production version of the HCD-II became the 1997 Hyundai Tiburon
(Spanish for ‘shark’ and pronounced Ti-Bur-On). An eye-catching design with
large muscular fenders, Tiburon is a 3-door coupe with 2+2 type seating and
a low 0.33 co-efficient of drag.
The ’97 Tiburon came in base and FX trim levels. Extras on the FX include
integrated fog lamps, a rear deck spoiler, a rear window wiper/washer, a
larger 140-horsepower 2-litre engine and 4-wheel disc brakes.
The driving position is little taller and more like a sedan than a typical
low-slung sports car. Despite its compact outer dimensions the front cabin
is spacious and head room is particularly good for the driver and front
passenger. On the other hand, rear passenger space is limited, though still
about par for a compact sports coupe.
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Some credit for the good handling characteristics of Tiburon should actually
go to Porsche for fine tuning the dual link rear suspension. A rigid chassis
also rivals the best in this class and contributed to the impressive list of
Tiburon motor sports successes.
Power comes from either a 1.8 litre or a 2.0 litre (in the FX) engine. Both
Beta-series engines have two overhead camshafts and 16 valves. Fuel
consumption figures for a 2.0 litre/manual are 10.8 L/100 km in the city and
7.3 L/100 km on the highway.
In ’98 the 2.0 litre engine was made standard on both trim levels. After
that no major changes were made until 2000 when the interior was redesigned
and it also got front and rear exterior upgrades.
Safety recalls, in the ’97 Tiburon, include a fault in the vapour recovery
system may cause stress cracks in the gas tank and allow fuel vapours to
escape. An electrical circuit continuity problem may also cause the
windshield wipers to stop working. Faulty seals, in the ’99, may cause a
loss of oil pressure in the automatic transmission and alter shift patterns.
And a wiring fault, in the 2000 Tiburon, may interfere with the Daytime
Running Light system.
Tiburon has been an important vehicle for Hyundai and has helped create a
new image for this South Korea car company. The price is right too and this
fish has lots of bite!
Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.