New Car Review

1998 MITSUBISHI DIAMANTE ES

by Matt/Bob Hagin

mitsubishi

SEE ALSO: Mitsubushi Buyer's Guide


SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 27,650
Price As Tested                                    $ 31,905
Engine Type                SOHC 4-valve 3.5 Liter V6 w/MFI*
Engine Size                                 213 cid/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                                     3436 pounds
Fuel Capacity                                    19 gallons
Tires  (F/R)                                     215/60VR16
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                            18/24/20
0-60 MPH                                          9 seconds
1/4 Mile (E.T.)                       17 seconds @ 85.5 mph
Top speed                                           125 mph
     * Multi-point fuel injection

(According to Matt Hagin, the near-luxury car market is crowded and the Mitsubishi Diamante has tough competition from American, European and other Japanese auto makers. His father Bob likes the idea that the new Diamante is lighter and faster than its predecessor.)

BOB - I don't think that we ever had an Australian-built car to evaluate, Matt, but that's where this new Mitsubishi Diamante was assembled. In fact, exactly half of the parts and pieces that go into this new luxo wagon are made "down under." The rest of it is made in Japan with just a minuscule number of items coming from Canada. No parts of the Diamante are made here.

MATT - The '98 Diamante is the flagship of the Mitsubishi line, Dad, and like its forerunner, it's based on the 3000 GT platform. By using a lot of aluminum in the design and construction of the Diamante, the overall weight of this big sedan has been dropped by almost 250 pounds. The engine was new to the Diamante last year, too. It's a half-liter bigger than the previous version and its 3.5 liters puts out 210 horses with a torque rating of 231 pound/feet at only 4000 rpm. It's the same single overhead cam unit that's used in the Mitsubishi Montero sport/utility vehicle. Coupling the new, lighter body with this more powerful engine dropped the Diamante 0-to-60 MPH time to almost nine seconds.

BOB - There's two version of the Diamante, the ES and the more gadgety LS version. Our base model ES seems to have been tricked out with most of the items that are found of the upscale job and came with upgraded 16-inch alloy wheels, 215/60VR16 tires, fog lamps and leather seats. The door locks, driver's seat, windows and outside mirrors are all power-operated, and the headlights have a device that automatically shuts off the headlights when the driver gets out of the car. At least once a year I leave the headlights on when I get out of my old van, then I have to drag the battery charger up to the front of the house to recharge the battery. And it usually happens when it's raining. And Tom, that automatic headlight switch would be a handy item for an absent- minded guy like me.

MATT - You really are absent-minded, Dad. I'm your other son, Matt. And don't forget that the radio antenna is power-operated too, so you'd run less risk of having it broken off at the drive-through car wash. On the road, the four-speed automatic transmission utilizes computer controls that match the timing and selection of the proper ratio to the driver's driving style. It also downshifts automatically when the car starts down a grade, which extends the life of the brakes. Traction control isn't offered on the Diamante but it has anti-lock brakes and there are discs at all four corners. The new body has an exceptionally low drag coefficient of only 0.28, which probably adds a bit to the fuel mileage of 19 MPG around town and 24 on the highway.

BOB - Not being a fan of moon roofs, I think $950 is wasted on this gadget but it comes in a package with the Homelink system. That's the gizmo that opens your garage door, turns on the garage light and does a couple of other tricks when you're just turning into your driveway. Now if they could train the Homelink to feed the dog and warm up some leftovers, I'd be really impressed. I'm also unimpressed with leather upholstery, but I know that luxury-lovers like yourself like the idea of leather facing on all the seats and interior panels.

MATT - Since the Diamante is the luxury-liner of the Mitsubishi line it only comes as a four-door sedan with one wheelbase length. It also is available with a built-in kid's seat restraint system which I found very handy for toting the two girls. And that's one of the reasons that I like leather upholstery, Dad. If the kids spill something on it, it's lots easier to clean it up. The standard velour-type seating material tends to let liquids soak in a bit before they can be taken care of.

BOB - Matt, it's comments like those that make me very thankful you seven kids are all grown up and that your mom and I don't have to clean up after you any more.

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