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.