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Only one Diamante model is available, replacing the ES and LS models. Mitsubishi also adds some new standard features, options and exterior colors to this top-level model.
To achieve success in the near-luxury market, an automaker must possess a strong brand image that consumers associate with prestige. Mitsubishi does not, and this partly explains the dismal failure that the first Diamante luxury sedan suffered in the United States. It wasn't a bad car, just a little dull looking and loaded with so much techno-wizardry that it cost far more than its perceived worth. That changed last year, when the Diamante appeared worth more than its price. For 1999, Mitsubishi builds upon last year's success, offering more standard equipment than before.
The same 3.5-liter V6 drives the front wheels, making 210 horsepower and upholding the Diamante's standing as one of the most powerful sedans in its class. The Diamante will go from zero to 60 in about 8.5 seconds, and, if you make this Mitsu perform this way often, the four-speed automatic transmission is supposed to learn that you're a lead foot, and adjust itself accordingly.
Exterior styling features a chiseled, BMW-like appearance that is bolder than the smooth silhouette of the previous car. Chrome appears in the window moldings, surrounding the license plate, grille trim and alloy wheels. For 1999, the Diamante displays a centered Mitsubishi Motors decklid badge. The Diamante's interior is tastefully trimmed, though the stereo is fitted with a ridiculous number of buttons. Gauges emit a Lexus-like glow at night, and the automatic climate controls feature innovative pictograms to convey fan mode.
Standard features now include driver and front passenger illuminated visor mirrors, front and rear map lights and power trunk and fuel door releases. Our biggest complaint about the Diamante last year, the lack of traction control, has been addressed and is now offered as an option. Both traction control and heated front seats are available for 1999 with the new Platinum Package. To top it off, Mitsubishi has added a new tan color seat fabric selection and three new exterior paint colors: Richmond Red Pearl, Lexington Green Metallic and Platinum White Pearl.
For 1999, the Diamante's MSRP is less than $28,000 including destination charge- that's $5,000 less than the 1998 Diamante LS and about $8,000 less than the 194-horsepower Mercedes-Benz C280, though the Benz provides standard traction control. This year's Diamante is priced about the same as the Acura 3.2 TL, but the Acura gets you 15 more horsepower and heated seats standard. Both the Benz and the Honda have superior transmissions and are better cars overall.
Laura's old car was costing her a small fortune every month for gas and repairs. She didn't even want to drive her kids to the park any more. But buying a new Kia Soul changed all that.