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2006 Hyundai Tiburon

2006 Hyundai Tiburon New Car Test Drive
Martha Hindes

Hyundai Tiburon
Hyundai Tiburon Interior

Ten years ago when it was just a tad, Hyundai's sleek little Tiburon was so eye-catching and enchanting, it took honors as one of the top new vehicles of the year. What has changed since those inauguration days?

Well, for one thing, there's a freshened demeanor from a year ago that kicked this second generation version up a notch without losing that menacing undercurrent of stalking hinted by the Tiburon name. Highlighted by a shark-like nose and the flow of a sweeping hatchback, it prowls with the ghostly haunting of a Jennifer Love Hewitt ready to sneak attack the smitten. Maybe that's what Hyundai execs had in mind when they gave it another name for "shark."

Rather than a rear-drive racer for two, Tiburon is a front-drive sport coupe for four, giving it the kind of practical edge someone spending a budget-pampering $16 to $21 K might want. For those who aren't second car folks, the idea of a sporty vehicle with solid driving credentials, a choice of four trim levels and a lot of good taste can equate to having fun while still being able to tuck the kids in the back.

Besides the base, four-cylinder GS, there's a performance GT, GT Limited (new for '06) and ultimate performance SE with six-speed manual only, all with sixes under the hood. GT Limited adds leather, tilt/slide glass sunroof, 440-watt Infinity audio plus other amenities. The GS's inline four produces 138-horsepower, while the aluminum block 2.7-liter V-6 gives up 172-HP. Fuel economy range for the four-banger GS is listed from 22 (automatic) to 30 mpg tops, but gains 2 mpg in city driving with a five-speed manual. The performance SE rates at 18/26.

For 2006, Hyundai ladles on some choice changes. Fog lamps, antilock brakes and key fob with alarm become standard equipment. GS owners can opt for the sunroof alone. SE buyers can get "orange crush" as a smack-in-the-face new color. Safety equipment is enhanced for '06. And sporty, three-spoke steering wheels are individual for each model. With red aluminum front brake calipers and high-riding rear spoiler on the GT, we think even a Donald Trump apprentice could find cruising in this sports coupe a blast.