Mazda Miata Will Finally Get Some Real Competition

The Hyundai Tiburon is about to see the most radical change in its entire three generation lifespan. Inarguably the rakish coupe is perhaps the most enticing Hyundai of all, yet its about to get sweeter with the addition of a power retractable hardtop.

A convertible model was expected after the Korean marques racy HDC concepts hit the show circuit, but when and from what donor platform wasnt known until now. The drop top will join a model update directed at the cars headlights, interior and engine – a direct-injection gasoline powerplant will be added to the range.

Heralded as the Korean Ferrari 456 GT, the rather pretty Hyundai will have its collapsible roof engineered in Germany, as opposed to somewhere in the Orient. Karmann, the creator of the Mercedes-Benz SLKs folding hardtop, has been selected to build Hyundais new unit.

The Tiburons system is composed of a center-hinged roof, plus a rather tricky arm for lifting the hard tonneau cover. To accommodate the roof the interior will be limited to two seats reducing its overall versatility, but on the plus side it receives a large trunk.

The windshields frame, bulkheads and sills have all been beefed up to provide rigidity and strength to reduce cowl shake and improve handling. The increased rigidity also adds protection in the event of a collision.

Expect the Tiburon convertible to be in showrooms around mid 2004, when it will do battle head to head with Mazdas venerable Miata (MX-5) and Toyotas mid-engine MR2.