South Korean car makers are giving competitors a real run for the money these days. While some domestic auto makers are struggling to stay in business, Hyundai Canada is upping the ante to appeal to its most enthusiastic owners with a new tuning program called Hyundai Performance Parts (HPP). Granted, the name isn’t as catchy as, say, Mazdaspeed, Nismo, SRT or TRD, but the mission is all about providing superior parts and performance to its customers. It also proves Hyundai is listening to its customers, many of whom point out the aftermarket lacks a decent variety of products and support for their Hyundai vehicles.
That said, personalizing a 2007 Tiburon or Accent SR just got a whole lot easier with more than 20 different approved and tested aftermarket parts that can be installed at the dealership. The impressive upgrade list includes everything from AEM intakes, Vibrant cat-back exhausts, B&M short shifters to Eibach Pro-Kit springs and StopTech big brake kits to perhaps the largest selection of aftermarket wheels currently being offered by a manufacturer in Canada. And, that’s just for starters! Read on my friends.
Hyundai has spent the past couple of years developing these parts with a lot of feedback coming directly from enthusiast focus groups. “This new line is all about attitude and versatility,” said John Vermile, Hyundai Auto Canada’s VP of sales and marketing, during his presentation at the ride and drive event held at the Dunnville Autodrome. “Hyundai owners now have the freedom to make their vehicles truly unique and drivers are going to love the way these new performance parts change the look and feel of their everyday experiences on the road.”
You may recall Gerry and I both drove the entire Mazdaspeed lineup at Dunnville earlier this year (on dry pavement) and we came away quite impressed. Even I had doubts that some tuned-up Hyundais would leave as good an impression on me, but impress they did in spite of a rainy day.
My introduction to Hyundai Performance Parts began with short rural test drives in a stock five-speed 2007 Accent SR and RWD Tiburon GT. With a 10-piece ground effects kit and wheel flares, the Canada-only Accent SR looks sporty and sophisticated. Its 1.6L DOHC four banger mated to a five-speed manual provides ample power and acceleration for everyday use, but I found the stock clutch a bit soft. An auxiliary audio jack, 400W Clarion stereo and custom subwoofer enclosure all come as standard.
Having driven it a couple of years ago, the Tiburon is still one of my favourite sports cars. Its quiet 2.7L DOHC V-6 produces a respectable 172 hp at 6,000 rpm with 181 lb-ft of torque at 3,800 rpm and with some subtle design tweaks this year the car looks even better than before. A European-tuned suspension and 17-inch alloy wheels translates into confident cornering and passing on wet two-lane highways; however, the fact that ABS is not available unless you get the GT Limited model is a substantial turnoff.
As for the compact Accent SR, the track-ready mule I drove (they call it an SR-X) was bolstered by an AEM air intake, Vibrant cat-back exhaust ($849.90), B&M short shifter ($181.95), Eibach lowering springs ($453.95), DC Sports front strut brace ($257.95), Hyundai Performance “SR” alloy wheels with 205/40/17 Falken Azenis RT-615 tires, plus an additional lower rear spoiler ($414.95) that adds to the smart rally car silhouette. An SR interior upgrade kit and aluminum door sill plates command another $534.70 to the price, but does improve the cabin in my opinion.
ABS brakes come standard on the SR Accent, however its lightweight FWD layout makes it difficult to put down the power exiting corners. The short shifter is a nice improvement, but I still had to be very smooth to get traction in the wet, however, the challenging conditions made it all the more enjoyable. The stiffer springs and strut bar noticeably cut down on body roll (versus the stock version) while the cat-back exhaust accentuates a sportier, more aggressive tone. This setup will run buyers an extra $2,693.40 in parts, plus the cost of the wheel and tire package selected. Not bad for a car that starts at $19,995 with the five-speed manual (the four-speed automatic adds $1,000).
Despite its small engine and lack of forced induction, the factory-enhanced Hyundai Accent SR-X was just as fun and sporty on this track. Yes, a modified Mazdaspeed 3 is faster, more refined and has two more doors, but comparing its $33,140 as tested price tag, which includes the cold air intake, sport spring kit and exhaust upgrades, is a bit like comparing apples to oranges here. However, it will be interesting to see if Hyundai decides to add more rally car influence to this car–think turbocharger–alongside its rumoured return to the World Rally Championship.
For my track-time in the modified Tiburons there were three to pick from. First up was the 2007 Tiburon GS-X with its five-speed manual and 2.0L DOHC inline-four sporting experimental Hyundai Performance air intake and axle-back exhaust. No real power gains here, but the suspension was completely overhauled with a fully-adjustable coil-over kit by K-Sport featuring 36-way adjustable dampening, adjustable ride height, front strut brace, some other camber goodies. A StopTech 13.2-inch front brake kit with two-piece slotted rotors and four-piston rear calipers on top of slotted rotors commanded an immediate response from the 17-inch FastCo F66 Version 5 lightweight wheels with Falken rubber.
Whereas the GS-based four-banger model was smooth and quiet with more precise handling and braking, the V-6 Tibs offered more of what I was looking car in a performance car. Based on the GT trim, both had their 2.7L engines were supercharged with a fourth-gen Eaton MP62 blower and bolstered with bolt-on mods including a NGM Ice Box intake manifold, DC Sports headers and cat-back exhaust with high-flow catalytic converter. The dark blue stage one car is based on the GT Limited (MSRPs at $28,995 with the six-speed manual) provided roughly 65 more wheel horsepower over stock at four pounds of boost while the light blue stage two GT (MSRPs at $25,495 with the five-speed manual) produces almost 100 whp more at seven psi thanks to the addition of an Ice Box system, uprated injectors and fuel management system by NGM.
As their new, more aggressive sounds denote, the added acceleration is instantly obvious in both cars. You might expect such powerful cars to slide all over a wet race track, but that was not the case as both were sporting some upgraded suspension bits to combat this a bit. The stage one Tib also had a Weapon-R short ram intake and drove on 17-inch FastCo F66 wheels with Eibach springs and sway bars while the stage two car wore 18-inch prototype wheels and a Tein Super Street adjustable coil-over suspension with EDFC (Electronic Damping Force Controller) that allows spring rates to be adjusted on-the-fly. Both had the aforementioned StopTech big brake kit plus a Clutch Masters stage four clutch kit and nine-pound flywheel from Fidanza to reduce the rotating mass and help put the extra power down.
As tested prices for the Tiburons are not as concrete as the Accent SR-X since they utilize many specialty and conceptual parts that don’t yet have solid pricing affixed to them. On the dark blue Tib, however, you would be looking at an extra five grand and about eight grand for the light blue car, but these are only estimates. It’s worth noting that all current HPP parts carry Hyundai’s standard one-year accessory warranty. As of this writing the Tein suspension and superchargers are still undergoing the final stages of certification. Craig Simpson, parts and accessories development specialist for the company, said “We are making all efforts to bring them to market as quickly as possible while ensuring they meet our stringent genuine accessory standards.”
The rain did not subside, but when the action on the track halted at day’s end it was hard to hide the wide grin strewn across my face. With their higher-pitched whines sounding a lot like the modified RX-8 GT ($41,368 as tested) I drove here, the blown Tiburons were as able, fun and memorable as the latter despite costing substantially less. Their widened, more usable power bands, more precise handling and excellent traction improve an already great sports car; and, as someone who knows the tuner market intimately, Hyundai’s brand of fully-tested and guaranteed aftermarket parts will undoubtedly appeal to its enthusiast customers. If this sounds like you, your local dealer can hook it up.
[Note: All pricing is original MSRP supplied by the manufacturer in CAD at the time.]