Hyundai has launched a facelifted version of its Tiburon coupe in South Africa.
Although not a volume seller, the Tiburon coupe is an important brand builder for the Korean carmaker.
Revisions to the latest version are primarily aesthetic with exterior and interior styling updates.
Still a Shark?
From the front, especially the three-quarter view, the Tiburon has a stylish profile which belies its South Korean heritage.
Staunch followers of the Tiburon will notice the distinctly sharper, more rakish appearance that has been achieved by using a smaller, more elongated front headlight assembly.
Gone too are the characteristic gills running upwards between the door-hinge line and front wheel arch.
They have been replaced by a smaller air-inlet positioned just under the side creaseline that runs aggressively from front to rear across the car's side profile.
New rear light clusters, and a bumper curve line, ensure the latest facelift is a complete styling package.
Interior architecture is similar to the outgoing model. The same high quality soft-touch plastics, logical instrumentation and user-friendly switchgear are present.
You get climate control and full leather trim on the 2.7 V6. Unfortunately you also still get the same boring steering wheel, awful pedal placement and lack of grab handles.
Overall the interior is comfortable enough, although it is actually more of a two-seater since space in the rear is cramped.
The seats feature a neat "easy in and out" walk-in memory system that eliminates the need to readjust seat settings after rear passengers enter or exit the car.
To aid practicality the rear seats have a 50:50 split function that increases cargo capacity. This is probably their most practical configuration in any case, considering how cramped it is for adults on the rear bench.
No more heel-and-toe
Mechanically, things continue much as before with the most obvious change to the range being the omission of the 2.7 V6 in manual configuration.
Only the 2-litre is available with a five-speed manual gearbox, whilst the 2.7 V6 (129kW and 250Nm as before) transfers it power exclusively through the four-speed H-matic tiptronic transmission.
Hyundai says that low volumes on the previous 2.7 V6 and six-speed manual gearbox configuration necessitated the decision, as well as increasingly high-density driving conditions.
Around the track
During our track evaluation of the Tiburon at Wesbank raceway we only sampled the 2-litre model, which at Reef altitudes felt a bit flat.
Producing 102 kW at 6 000 r/min and 185 Nm at 4 500 r/min it feels more akin to a torque friendly 2-litre passenger car engine than a coupe powertrain.
If you rev it with particular enthusiasm it does become harsh, but is relatively refined at cruising speeds.
The five-speed gearbox is terrible though. It might have a light action, but when quick-shifting it hardly inspires and lacks a tactile feel of engagement, especially when shifting to third gear at speed.
Around the track the Tiburon turns into the faster sweeps quite neatly without too much body roll, which was generally well controlled.
In the tighter corners, it understeers under normal hooligan late braking antics, and with suicidal late braking, or petulant throttle lift-off, the rear end goes quite light.
The tyres though felt like a distinct weak point, with plenty of audible scrabble, and with so little power on tap to upset grip it was quite a peculiar state of affairs.
Overall the handling is more than adequate for quick road use.
The brakes are an excellent part of the dynamic package, and with ABS and EBD they consistently reined in the Tiburon from high speeds without drama.
Decently equipped, attractively styled and easy to drive, the Tiburon is sure to find favour in the marketplace.
For those wishing to enjoy the image of aesthetically pleasing coupe motoring without committing to an overly severe driving experience, the Tiburon makes a very compelling case.
Tiburon 2.0 GLS Manual R219 900
Tiburon 2.7 GLS Auto R269 900