UK Car Road Test

Hyundai Coupe 2.0 SE 2002



UK Car Road Test

Hyundai Coupe 2.0 SE 2002

The Hyundai Coupe has been available since 1996, it has one body style (as its name states) and three types of engines. The first engine type is a very under-powered 1.6, the second is this the 2.0 being tested and then the big boy hairy lairy 2.7 V6. The range is the Standard model, SE spec and some occasional limited edition models. 

Hyundai cars are becoming ever more popular in the UK market and this modern-looking coupe has helped Hyundai shed its cheap made-in-Malaysia image. I personally used to think of the old and much derided Pony when ever the name Hyundai was mentioned but now I tend to picture this modern (looking) coupe instead of the old wretched nag that was the Pony which  was, without question, totally hideous and a leading contender for the most horrible car of the decade if not all time. That car alone is likely to be the reason why it has taken such a long time for Hyundai to hold good residual values and for me to get the opportunity to actually try one. And be moderately interested in doing so.

This boxier-shaped car replaced the more curvaceous and swoopy earlier model and it is a stunning-looking 2+2 Sport Coupe; this one tested was equipped with a Tip-Tronic auto transmission and a full range of specification.


Hyundai Coupe (circa 2002)* Nissan 200SX (circa 2001)*

Coupe styled cars have come and gone over the years, disappearing and re-appearing like a Phoenix but a little more beautiful and more powerful than before. With so many classic coupes and modern cars on our roads, with a little imagination I can see other model styles in this car from almost every angle (see picture captions).* Almost as if Hyundai has tried to take elements it likes from a whole gamut of good looking cars and meld them into a single design.

Rear quarter view Toyota Celica

(circa 1990)*

Rear lower panel view Honda S2000

(circa 2001)*

The Hyundai Coupe is very masculine in appearance on the outside, the body is a concoction of shapes ranging from the shapely to the angular. This works well even if it sounds odd. The cars size is small and very squat; with two biggish bore exhaust tail pipes it also suggests it's a very powerful contender in its marketplace.

Side view Nissan 300ZX
(circa 2003)*
Bonnet view Toyota MR2 Roadster
(circa 2001)*

The paint finishing is top quality and the body (along with everything except the alloys) is black and a very deep shiny black at that. It appears a super car so far.

Open the door and you are even more impressed with the trim finishing. This is the SE specification fitted with leather as standard. The combination of black trim, dash, paintwork, seats and nearly all else is effective and stylish. Yet this coupe has a bright and airy cockpit as the sunroof helps elevate the light levels when inside. The rear is unfortunately dingy, dark and claustrophobic and the rear seats are really only for occasional use, so if you happen to be in the back it will hopefully only be for a short distance.



The seating is very elaborate with high quality detailed stitching and, once inside the front seats, you are very well secured and surprisingly comfortable even though you are not far from a 90 angle with your legs out instead of down. The steering wheel and driver's switch controls are all easily understood and utilised falling neatly to hand.

www.ukcar.comComfort Features 
Adjustable Steering Column from
Adjustable Steering Column
Cup holders from
Cup holders
Electric Height Adjusting Drivers Seat from
Electric Height Adjusting Drivers Seat
Front Door Bins from
Front Door Bins
Head Rests (front & rear) from
Head Rests (front & rear)
Height Adjustable Drivers Seat from
Height Adjustable Drivers Seat
Pollen Filter from
Pollen Filter
Remote Boot Release from
Remote Boot Release
Split rear seats from
Split rear seats
Sports Front Seats from
Sports Front Seats
Time Clock from
Time Clock
www.ukcar.comGeneral Features 
Colour Coded Bumpers from
Colour Coded Bumpers
Colour Coded Mirrors from
Colour Coded Mirrors
Digital Odometer from
Digital Odometer
Heated Rear Window from
Heated Rear Window
On Board Computer from
On Board Computer
Rear Wash Wipe from
Rear Wash Wipe
Tinted Windows from
Tinted Windows
www.ukcar.comLuxury Features 
Air Conditioning from
Air Conditioning
Cigarette Lighter from
Cigarette Lighter
Climate Control from
Climate Control
Cruise Control from
Cruise Control
Electric Mirrors from
Electric Mirrors
Electric Windows front from
Electric Windows front
Leather Upholstery from
Leather Upholstery
Radio CD Player from
Radio CD Player
Sunroof (electric) from
Sunroof (electric)

Being the SE spec model, this car has a whole host of standard features and more besides. Cruise control is fitted along with air con, electric sunroof, windows and mirrors. They all worked well, ventilation was very good and the air con was very effective in freezing you even on a hot day. The sound system was a face-off Clarion unit which sounded good but is an after-market stereo which offers little or no security against theft and does not reach the levels achieved elsewhere in the cockpit of this car.


Service Interval Insurance Group Safety Rating Smog Rating
10000 10 Not Available 202 Band (f)
Engine BHP CC Fuel Inj.
4 Cylinder 16 Valve DOHC 136 1975 Yes
Cyl Camshafts Valves/cyl Compressor
4 Double 4 None
Top Speed 0 to 60 BHP per Tonne
128mph 9.2seconds 103
MPG@Urban MPG@Cruise MPG@Speed Fuel Type
24.8mpg 42.8mpg 33.6mpg Unleaded
Kerb Weight Tow Weight Length Width Height
1333kg 1400kg 439cm 133cm 253cm
Boot Seats/up Boot Seats/Down Seats
0 Litres 0 Litres 4

The engine is a 2.0 16V DOHC producing a moderate 136 bhp which drives the front wheels on this car through an auto box. Turn the ignition key and the engine will ignite assuringly and with considerable noise. Blip the throttle and the rev counter shows an eagerness to rise quickly, coinciding with the exhaust pitch which is subtle and just a little raspy. I am looking forward to driving this astounding-looking coupe for the first time. I have seen many and been reasonably inquisitive and relatively eager to drive one for a while now. 

Once drive is selected on the gear-lever the engine subsides and becomes a little quieter. Let off the brake and the car carries itself forward without any gas needed. Once moving, the first thing I noticed (with the engine cold) was a mild engine roughness which reminded me of many Hondas I have driven. Nothing wrong with it at all - it is just not quite as good as I had expected. (though any comparison to a Honda can only be good :ED) Under normal load and driving conditions the auto-box will change gear for optimum economy and will change up around 2,000-2,500 revs. Around city streets the car will pull away from traffic and accelerate competently and  without any fuss at all. Thankfully the engine noise level drops considerably as the car achieves normal operating temperatures.

With the engine and gearbox hot it was time to see if this coupe itself is really HOT!

Press the pedal to the floor and the Hyundai will zoom off with the not very startling pace of a rep's car. Leave the gas pedal to the floor and watch the speedo rise like an unleavened loaf. I kid you not - this car is very disappointing. It looks like it will fly and it does from 0-30 and after that it revs well but has no torque to mention or power to behold. I have driven faster diesels with smaller engines than this and they would nail this sports coupe to sixty, past sixty, up-hill, down-hill, I think I've said enough. How much is lost to the autobox I dont really know, but I would guess the auto is probably not exactly cutting edge automotive technology in the efficiency stakes

So once the initial disappointment of having a fast car to test is over, I accustom myself to simply testing it for what it really is, and wish it was perhaps the manual version.

In essence the car does drive well, the gearbox is very effective in auto mode slurring and sloshing seemlessly through its ratios and works as well as any German manufactured Tip-Tronic I have driven. Once this Hyundai was accelerating I found myself looking at the gauge (above right picture). It shows how much torque the engine is producing. It's not a turbo gauge, it's a torque gauge and it really could do with another 40 N-M. It will not climb above 20 without severely punishing the engine. It is happy around the 15-20 mark. Why was this fitted at all? It's not like you really need to know how little pulling power your sports coupe is not developing.

On the motorway the car will cruise with ease at around 70 mph. The engine is well balanced at speed and all mechanical noise is overwhelmed by wind and tyre noise. The twin exhausts are lacking in gas flow and therefore do not intrude; altogether the noise levels are very low. I actually find that quite a shame as this rugged-looking sports coupe lacks any brutality, power and (sadly) excitement.



With front wheel drive and a low power production, the suspension does not have to be of superior genre on this coupe, it's a shame to say but average suspension will suffice happily to contain the power from the engine. The general ride is quite hard which is to my personal taste. Throw the Hyundai around a bend at speed and the suspension copes very well indeed. Added to this is the fact that the steering is very precise, providing excellent feedback throughout the car's speed range. All this along with very firm shock-absorbers give a drive equal to this car's looks. It's fair to say that the suspension is far better than the engine and would easily accept a great deal more performance.

The body is egg-shaped for optimum wind dynamics and a rear spoiler is fitted for that little extra look as well as for the benefit of aerodynamics. Race-like air vents are manufactured into the front wings for extra cooling as if this is needed.

www.ukcar.comSteer/Susp/Tech Features 
Alloy Wheels from
Alloy Wheels
Catalytic Converter from
Catalytic Converter
Disc Brakes Front & Rear from
Disc Brakes Front & Rear
External Temperature Gauge Fitted from
External Temperature Gauge Fitted
Front Fog lamps fitted from
Front Fog lamps fitted
Halogen Head Lights from
Halogen Head Lights
Height Adjustable Headlight Aim from
Height Adjustable Headlight Aim
Independent Suspension from
Independent Suspension
Intermittent Wash Wipe from
Intermittent Wash Wipe
Power Assisted Steering from
Power Assisted Steering
Rev Counter from
Rev Counter

Going back to the engine's performance, what's going on with this car? It looks great, handles great but has no power to match. Did Hyundai initially plan a 250 bhp donkey for this car and then lose its carrot?

It certainly seems very strange. Is it just a stroke of luck for Hyundai to have manufactured such an attractive-looking car? or did they shoot the lot on the looks and have nothing left to fill the void beneath the bonnet.

Driving this coupe is easy and it's surprisingly comfortable  even over long distances. The chassis/body-shell is sturdy, allowing very little body roll and supplying plenty of down-force onto the wheels and tyres when travelling.

The alloys wheels are attractive 5 spoke 16" with average sized tyres and profiles. Grip to the tarmac is good but then I could not really tax the car as the engine runs out of umph. Conservatively sized tyres are at least resonably priced when the engine finally manages to wear through them.




I can't say I have heard of any of these Hyundai cars being stolen. What I can say is that a thief would not choose one twice in favour of  most other sports coupes because others are most likely to be more powerful. And you would not use one for a ram raid because it has no luggage capacity. So, all in all, if you own one you are likely to be the only person who is going to drive it.

Of course, there are anti theft devices fitted. An immobiliser is fitted as standard but there is a greater possibility that someone may steal the fuel from this car in order to drive another stolen car. So Hyundai have fitted a very detailed fuel filler cap which looks stunning with the body lines combined and give the theif something to admire whilst trying to steal your fuel..   

Safety features are up with other makers on paper at least. Air bags, impact protection and a strengthened body shell all add to the driver safety. The airbags are subtle in appearance, the driver's bag being housed inside a tri-spoked steering wheel which both looks good and has a top tactile feel and stylish looks for that feel-good factor.


The airbags in the seats and front dash are not noticeable at all without the signs pointing out that they exist. The airbags in the seats are very well hidden, I just wonder if one goes off whether you have to replace the seat? Most makes have a plastic housing which the airbags sit inside. This car does not, which does look much better but will probably cost more to replace if they are set off.

In security terms, the Achilles heel of this car is its stereo; most makers are fitting units which only work in their cars so if one is stolen it will not work in another make. The Clarion unit in this car has a universal fitting and can be used in lots of makes, particularly older cars, thus making it a target for the thieves who can sell it on easily. I admit you can remove the face and carry it around with you whenever you leave your car but that seems absurd with today's cheaply available technology.

www.ukcar.comSafety/Security Features 
Alarm from
Antilock Braking System from
Antilock Braking System
Engine Immobiliser from
Engine Immobiliser
Front Side Air Bags from
Front Side Air Bags
Front Twin Airbags from
Front Twin Airbags
High level brake Light from
High level brake Light
Locking Fuel Cap from
Locking Fuel Cap
Remote Central Locking from
Remote Central Locking
Side Impact Protection from
Side Impact Protection
Visible Identification Number from
Visible Identification Number

The Hyundai Coupe is not cheap either new or used, it is a stunning looker but a disappointing performer, so would I own one? NO I WOULD NOT!

It has  a great deal of good points, a superior looking finishing and a very good ride to cap it off.

It also has a distinct lack of aggression, a cheesy number of clocks (which I think are intended to impress teenagers) and several rattles and squeaks from the interior along with some peculiar banging from the rear suspension.

You have to be careful when sitting in the back seats as the tailgate is closed as your head gets pressed down which is very uncomfortable when the car is moving and also quite cold on the skin. (if you have a right said fred hair do like yours :ED)


I still consider the Hyundai very attractive and even stunning in certain (mostly looking) ways but remember why I would not own one when I see little details such as the siting of the cup holder on the passenger side of the dash which is as far away from the driver as it could be whilst still being inside the car. I guess it's a car bought with passion initially and later simply tolerated rather than enjoyed.

Roll on the 2.7 with some max power/halfords dash enhancements.



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UK Car Road Test Hyundai Coupe 2.0 SE 2002

UK Car Road Test Keywords: Sports autoCoupe 2.0 SE