New Car/Review

1997 MITSUBISHI DIAMANTE LS

by Tom Hagin

Mitsubishi

SEE ALSO: Mitsubushi Buyer's Guide

SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 29,990
Price As Tested                                    $ 32,355
Engine Type                      (SOHC) 3.5 Liter V6 w/MFI*
Engine Size                                213.3cid/3497 cc
Horsepower                                   210 @ 5000 RPM
Torque (lb-ft)                               231 @ 4000 RPM
Wheelbase/Width/Length                  107.1"/70.3"/194.1"
Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
Curb Weight                                     3405 Pounds
Fuel Capacity                                    19 gallons
Tires  (F/R)                                     215/60R16V
Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
Drive Train                  Front-engine/front-wheel-drive
Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/four-door
Domestic Content                               Five percent
Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.28

PERFORMANCE

EPA Economy, miles per gallon
   city/highway/average                            18/26/22
0-60 MPH                                        8.5 seconds
1/4 Mile (E.T.)                       16.5 seconds @ 88.mph
Top speed                                           130 mph
     * Multi-point fuel injection

Since its introduction in 1992, the Mitsubishi Diamante has sold well, but has done so in unheralded fashion. It has always represented Japanese high technology and luxury, but as its price kept moving upscale, the buying public kept demanding more car for less money.

In response, Mitsubishi made the Diamante ES and uplevel LS more powerful and attractive, provided more interior room with less heft. And as an added bonus, it's been priced slightly under the competition.

OUTSIDE - Diamante offers a stylish alternative to the conservative shapes common in today's near-luxury market. Its sloped nose and radically raked windshield contribute to its efficient .028 coefficient of drag. This also helps reduce wind noise, and assisted us in squeaking out nearly 27 mpg on the freeway. However, virtually all of our staff agreed that the notched tail lamps are somewhat disproportionate. It rides on the same 107-inch wheelbase and uses the basic platform of its predecessor, but most everything else has changed. For '97, Diamante is nearly four inches longer, an inch taller and just under an inch wider than the version it replaced. Both the upscale LS and the attractively- priced ES models use a body-color grille and bumpers, and as part of Mitsubishi's Premium Package, our test LS model featured a set of fog lamps, seven-spoke alloy wheels, and color-keyed bodyside moldings.

INSIDE - As it was before, Diamante is as comfortable as cars costing much more. The front bucket seats are plush and soft, and can accommodate very wide frames. The center console and side armrests are both at the perfect height to rest a tired arm, and the new dashboard switch gear and controls are still technologically-advanced, and simple to reach and operate. Both Diamante models feature such standards as automatic climate control, power windows, mirrors, antenna and door locks, cruise control, height-adjustable steering, variable speed intermittent wipers and an electric rear window defroster. Top-line LS models add leather seating, a powered driver's seat, six-speaker, AM/FM/CD/cassette player upgrade, and faux woodgrain trim.

ON THE ROAD - Diamante is powered by a 3.5 liter V6 engine with single (one on top of each cylinder bank) overhead camshafts and 24 valves. It produces 210 horsepower, while its 231 lb-ft of torque is a bit above average compared to others in its class. Its horsepower represents a 25 percent increase over last year's version, but off-the-line launch isn't as impressive as the increased numbers might suggest. Mid-range torque, however, is better than before, and is very noticeable during highway passing maneuvers. Its four-speed automatic transmission is computer-controlled, and features what Mitsubishi calls adaptive transmission-control management. This system matches gear selections to driving conditions, so where others rely on a few pre-programmed "maps" to calculate when to shift (or when not to shift), Mitsubishi's system makes gear changes as conditions warrant.

BEHIND THE WHEEL - Diamante's four-wheel independent suspension uses a familiar sophisticated layout: MacPherson strut-type pieces up front and a multi-link rear setup. It is softly-sprung, and feels so when traversing those stretches of freeway plagued by never-ending construction. This comes at the sacrifice of some body lean during heavy cornering, however. Both ends use coil springs and anti-roll bars, and the entire package handles securely and competently through twisting roads. It also features speed-sensitive power rack-and-pinion steering, which varies the amount of boost dependent on the vehicle's speed. This makes turning the steering wheel easier while parking or at slow speeds, and gives a heavier feel at highway speeds. Four-wheel disc brakes are standard on both Diamante models, but the rears are slightly smaller (by three-tenths of an inch) than before. Also, an anti-lock braking system (ABS) is optional, where it was standard with the previous version.

SAFETY - Dual airbags and side-impact door beams are standard; ABS is optional.

OPTIONS - ABS added $732 to our car, while a glass sunroof package (with a HomeLink accessory control system) cost $963 extra.

Complete specifications on the 1997 Mitsubishi Diamante 4dr Luxury Sdn LS and other vehicles are available at the New Car Buyers Guide!

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