You are here: Home / Car Reviews / Hyundai / Previous Models / Tiburon / 2003 Hyundai Tiberon Compact Sporty Coupe with Hatchback

2003 Hyundai Tiberon Compact Sporty Coupe with Hatchback

Base MSRP Range: $16,000 to $18,000

Base Invoice Range: $14,500 to $16,500
Price Quote

MSRP As Tested: $17,999

Versions: Base and GT.

Vehicle Category: XXXX

Engine Location: Front Engine

Drive Wheels: Front-Wheel Drive

Engine As Tested: 2.0-liter, Dual Overhead Cam, Inline 4 cylinder, 134-horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 132 lb-ft torque at 4,500 rpm. Optional 2.7-liter Dual Overhead Cam V6 with 170-horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 181 lb.-ft. torque at 4,000 rpm

Transmission As Tested: 5-Speed Manual with an optional 6-speed manual and a 5-speed Automatic.

Fuel Economy (city/hwy): 5-Speed Manual with 4-cylinder - 23/31. 5-Speed Manual with 6-cylinder - 19/26. 6-Speed Manual with 6-cylinder - 18/26. 4-Speed automatic with 4-cylinder - 23/30. 4-Speed automatic with 6-cylinder - 20/26.

Standard Safety Features: Driver and front passenger, front and side airbags, 4-wheel disc brakes, Remote Keyless Entry.

Competition: Acura RSX, Chevrolet Cavalier, Ford Escort, Ford Focus, Ford Mustang, Honda Civic, 2003 Hyundai Accent, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Spectra, MINI Cooper, Mitsubishi Eclipse, Pontiac Sunfire, Toyota Celica, Toyota ECHO, Volkswagen GTI, Volkswagen Golf, Volkswagen New Beetle

A few years back, there were a whole bunch of small, personal coupes to add excitement to the lives of new car buyers. With comfort for two, an occasional space for a couple more, and an easy loading hatch for those first apartment necessities, they offered the needed function and the desired verve to celebrate one's new found freedom from home and school. Then came the invasion of the sport utes.

Probes, NX2000s, CR-Xs, and MX3s all fell to the small trucks. Now the survivors are few with the Cougar and ZX2 soon to disappear, and most other similar models replaced by the more boxy Euro style machines like the Focus ZX3. But still the Tiburon keeps cruising the troubled waters like its shark namesake, grabbing sales based on its sleek looks and league leading warranty. The sporty coupe that always has been entertaining to drive with exotic good looks. Now it offers a more spacious interior and the longed for optional V6 power, and yet it will be very, very hard to get the sticker above $20K.

Also, uncommon for a Korean car, the all-new 2003 Tiburon was unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Known as the Tiburon in North America, the Hyundai Coupe in Europe and the Tuscani in Korea it is one of the most widely sold cars. The new Tiburon is longer and wider than the current version with a longer wheelbase for improved ride and handling. The 2003 model will be available with Hyundai's all-aluminum DOHC 2.7-liter V6 engine. Buyers will have a choice of three transmissions in the V6 model; the 4-Speed Automatic with Shiftronic manual shift control, a revised 5-5peed Manual, and a sporty 6-Speed Manual transmission.

After nearly four years of development, the Hyundai Tiburon is set to further enhance the company's reputation largely through it's 17-inch wheels blessed with high performance tires. The designers have discovered a simple truth: that the thing that goes the furthest in helping sports car handling is good tires, and they have spent the extra cash to shoe this critter with Michelin Pilots, the same as top performance Porsches. On wide wheels, they look good, but on the twisty bits in the Nevada desert, they keep the sexy looks honest and provide all the thrills the stylists promised.

Following themes set in previous models, new Tiburons have necked in sides with a low character line that gives the car a swept forward but grounded stance. The front fender has a hint of a scoop that suggests the power in the new engine. And for the boy-racer crowd, there is a high spoiler option and an impressive looking dual exhaust.

The interior design is simple yet functional and in the Hyundai tradition the new Tiburon is loaded with value features. Black leather is standard on GTs, and the Infinity 7 speaker stereo with subwoofer kicks out an ear-destroying 360 watts. On the safety front, there are dual front and side airbags and standard 4-wheel disc brakess.

The standard equipment list for the new Tiburon is filled with features that cost extra on the competition, like fog lamps, cruise control, air conditioning, power windows, power-assisted rack and pinion steering, tilt steering column and a remote locking system offered as standard. And the end result is a sticker something like $2,800 to $3,800 less than Celica, Mustang, Eclipse V6 competitors.

Hyundai has enjoyed a 46% sales increase in '01, a year most car companies struggled to keep pace with past years, and this is from a car company some had given up for lost just a couple years previously. A new generous warranty was the underpinning of the corporate message, and the last couple year's history has shown that the product speaks for itself as Hyundai execs swear that their warranty costs are far less than ever expected.

Even as a bargain brand, Hyundai is rated as #2 in brand dependability by Strategic Vision and received the Chairman's Award from JD Power for quality improvement. It has risen to 5th in the import ranks, just behind VW and Toyota, Nissan and Honda ahead of a lot better known other brands. If it were combined with its Kia partner, it would rival Nissan for third place. The National Auto Dealer's Association has rated it the 4th overall dealership value behind Lexus, Toyota and Acura.

Tiburon buyers also benefit from the Hyundai Advantage, America's Best Warranty that includes 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain protection and 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper coverage as well. In addition Tiburon buyers receive 24-hour roadside assistance at no extra charge for 5 full years (no mileage limit). The warranty also includes emergency towing, lockout service and limited coverage for trip-interruption expenses. Anti-perforation is provided for five years or 100,000 miles. There is no deductible on any of these coverages.

Pros: Excellent value for the money.

Cons: Not a lot of dealerships which can make repairs more difficult.

Ratings (1-10)

  • Style: 7
  • Performance: 6
  • Price: 8
  • Handling: 6
  • Ride: 5
  • Comfort: 5
  • Quality: 6
  • Overall: 6.1


Where Built: South Korea

Major Options: Antilock Braking System, enhanced stereo system, larger engines, leather upholstery, sunroof, tall spoiler, variety of transmissions.

Seating: 4

Number of Rows: 2

Crash Test Ratings:

  • NHTSA Frontal Impact/Driver Crash Test Rating: Not Yet Tested
  • NHTSA Frontal Impact/Passenger Crash Test Rating: Not Yet Tested
  • NHTSA Side Impact/Front Seat Crash Test Rating: Not Yet Tested
  • NHTSA Side Impact/Rear Seat Crash Test Rating: Not Yet Tested
  • NHTSA Rollover Resistance Rating: Not Yet Tested

  • IIHS Frontal Offset Crash Test: Not Yet Tested

Length in Inches: 173.0

Warranties: 5 years/60,000 miles bumper-to-bumper, 5 years/100,000 miles corrosion, 10 years/100,000 mile powertrain, 5 years/unlimited mileage free Roadside Assistance.

Weight in Pounds: 2,940

Towing Capacity in Pounds: Not Applicable

Gas Tank Capacity in Gallons: 14.2

Destination Charge: $495