Mitsubishi didn’t have the budget to launch an entire upscale brand like Lexus or Infiniti. But, it had the know-how to build cars that were competitive in that class save for the badge. The Mitsubishi Diamante is largely forgotten now, but back in its glory days it was reviewed favorably against luxury juggernauts such as Mercedes. It was all due to a combination of luxurious design and high-tech engineering
According to Motorweek‘s review from 1991, The Diamante boasted sharp styling, cutting-edge technology, and “enough artificial wood and optional leather trim for two Mercedes.”
Its twin-cam, 24-valve 3.0-liter V6 was packed with Mitsubishi’s most advanced techno-wizardry. It had variable induction control, electronic ignition timing, and EFI working in unison to produce an impressive 202 horsepower and 199 lb-ft of torque. It was mated to a 4-speed transmission that “functions so smoothly we were almost unaware of its operation.”
Like the Acura Legend and Audi 90 it had a front-wheel layout, but handling was assisted with Mitsubishi’s unique Trace Control System, which retarded engine timing in turns to reduce understeer for a tighter cornering experience.
Motorweek‘s test drivers were split on whether the computerized gewgaws improved the car or intruded on the driving, but agreed it was “the most advanced traction control system on the market.” On top of that, it also featured electronically controlled shock damping and adjustable ride height.
The Diamante was compared favorably against cars like the Audi 90 and Mercedes 190, but came in at a competitive $19,139 for the base model, $25,135 for the luxury LS, and $30,117 for the fully loaded tester. However, it must be said that the J30 Nissan Maxima was a similar car that offered a more pure sport sedan drive without all the fancy tech or opulent appointments.
Motorweek concluded that the Diamante “will redefine its class.” Well, history shows that didn’t exactly happen, but it was a showcase of Mitsubishi Motors’s best at the company’s brightest era.
While Mitsubishi has the badge appeal in Japan, the rest of the world isn’t impressed. The largest limousine they built after the Diamante was the Proudia and Dignity. Emperor Naruhito’s brother Akishino is still driven around in a black Dignity. It has a FWD 5.0 V8, and the V8 was only used in the Proudia/Dignity.
“Like the Acura Legend and Audi 90 it had a transverse orientation and front-wheel layout,”
By ’91 the Legend had changed to longitudinal engine/trans, but still FWD
This car was the Verada (V6) and Magna (L4) in Australia.
I recall the motoring press made a big deal of the elegant console-mounted analogue clock (a break from years of digitals).
It was refined but bland, and a size smaller than our domestic family sedans.
Good enough for our Navy though — they had a fleet arrangement with Mitsubishi — white Magnas for everyone!
Audi didn’t go to a transverse engine layout until the TT, as the TT was based off a Golf platform. The Audi 90 engine was longitudinal.
Took out that phrase. Thanks.
Did like the hardtop-look, flush windows that made it appear pillarless; roll the windows down, and the B-pillar appears.
1991 also saw the introduction of the amazing Galant VR4 to North America. The VR4 boasted all wheel drive, all wheel steering, and a list of standard equipment that included luxuries like leather seating, air conditioning, power windows, power locks, ABS, cruise control, and more. It’s 200 HP could propel it to 60 in about seven seconds, quick for its time. Handling was among the best for a four door sedan. The car was a technical tour de force and an absolute pleasure to drive in all road conditions
Then there was the more mainstream but still thrilling first generation Eclipse. Mitsubishi was at the top of their game in the 90s.
I do have the Diamante’s the European counterpart: the Sigma
TopGear’s Jeremy Clarkson on the SIgma: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCPSnmL0ko4
I do have the Diamante’s European counterpart: the Sigma
TopGear’s Jeremy Clarkson on the Sigma:
Do you still have your Sigma, where are you? I have a Sigma estate, I am in Sussex, England
Yes, I still have it. I am in Holland.