Replacing the two-door coupe for the 1997 model year, the Hyundai Tiburon was introduced as an affordable sport coupe. Receiving its model name from the Spanish word for shark, the Hyundai Tiburon featured a sleek, heavily curved exterior appearance. Rolling on tires mounted to 14-inch wheels for 1998, it has been popularly suggested that Hyundai sought help from German sports car maker Porsche in developing the Tiburons suspension. This rumor has not been officially confirmed by either auto company but was also not denied. Completely dropping a lower-powered 1.8-liter engine used on the base model of the sport coupe in 1997, all 1998 Hyundai Tiburons featured a 140-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine.
A five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission could be matched with 1998 Tiburons powerplant. Along with providing peppy small car performance, the powertrain of the Tiburon was also fuel-efficient. The 2003 model year version of the Hyundai Tiburon was completely redesigned receiving a more aggressive outer look and a longer wheelbase. In addition to the four-cylinder base engine, the 2003 Tiburon gained an optional 2.7-liter powerplant with the GT model producing 170 horsepower. For 2005, a four-cylinder Hyundai Tiburon GS featured an upgraded powerplant featuring Continuously Variable Valve Timing. Standard features on the 2005 Tiburon GS includes16-inch wheels on Michelin tires and a six-speaker stereo system.
Power for the six-cylinder powered Hyundai Tiburons was modestly increased to 172 horsepower for 2005. In 2007, the Hyundai Tiburon sport coupe received a retouched front and rear appearance while the interior offered an audio system with standard MP2 capability. Throughout the production of the Hyundai Tiburon, the sports car earned a respectable reputation in amateur and semi-professional racing competitions. The Tiburon helped Hyundai to capture multiple manufacturer championships in SCCA ProRally competition during the late 1990s.