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A DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH SPORT SEDAN

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Fri, Jul 9, 2004

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

© All photos by Harvey Schwartz

A DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH SPORT SEDAN By HARVEY SCHWARTZ

The new 2004 Diamante VR-X retains all the luxury features that make the Diamante a jewel in its class, while adding several new aggressive exterior styling cues common to performance cars. The VR-X's exterior adds a black mesh grille, wheel arch flares, decklid spoiler, color-keyed lower side skirts, and unique headlamps and tail lamps. With 210 horsepower generated from its 3.5-liter SOHC V6 engine, a responsive four-speed Sportronic transmission with Adaptive Shift control, a sport tuned suspension, a free flowing exhaust, and four-wheel disc brakes riding on 16 x 7 inch tires and wheels, the new freshened VR-X is one of the more satisfying driving experiences in its class.

The interior of the VR-X features new, sport-style, high-back bucket seats with plenty of support and comfort. The cockpit also features many premium sports-sedan touches like an illuminated white-faced gauge cluster with VR-X graphics, 14-way adjustable driver's seat with memory, eight-way adjustable front passenger seat, dashboard mounted ignition switch, power windows/door locks, padded center console, dual cupholders, electronic cruise control, variable-speed wipers/washers, power side mirrors, a beefy, tilting, leather wrapped steering wheel with audio control buttons, a well designed center stack with automatic climate control, and featuring a powerful 270 watt Mitsubishi premium audio system with eight speakers and a separate amplifier. All buttons, switches and dials are within easy reach. Lets take a closer look at what makes the new Mitsubishi VR-X such an outstanding sport sedan and a great bargain.

The VR-X comes equipped with a smooth, and powerful 3.5-liter, SOHC, 24-valve V6 that produces 210 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and 231 pounds feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. The engine features a naturally smooth 60-degree cylinder arrangement, durable cast-iron block, aluminum heads, quiet belt-driven camshafts and friction reducing roller-type rocker arms. Hydraulic valve lash adjusters eliminate the need for periodic adjustment. The engine's combustion chamber is a compact pent-roof design for high combustion efficiency and low exhaust emissions. The spark plug is located at the center of the chamber for faster, more stable burning. The VR-X's powerful V6 engine is mated to a four-speed, electronically controlled Sportronic transmission INVEC-II system that learns a driver's throttle inputs and adapts them by modifying its shift pattern. A four-position shift lever with a with a Sport-mode gate allows drivers to experience sporty, positive-feeling manually actuated shifts with a simple push or pull of the leather topped shift lever. In fully automatic mode, the Sportronic transmission will downshift for engine braking if the computer senses that the driver brakes frequently while descending a hill. The transmission also will hold lower gear while climbing hills for more power and to prevent constant upshifting and downshifting.

The Diamante VR-X's confident handling is the result of a well-designed fully independent suspension that uses MacPherson strut design up front and a multi-link setup in the rear. For superior durability, the suspension's front struts use a large, rigid cross section design that resists bending and twisting. This helps to lead to more precise control of wheel geometry and consistency in handling. The lower arm of the suspension is attached to a precision cast-aluminum crossmember. Rubber bushings isolate the crossmember from the body, and the lower arm is mounted to the crossmember using liquid-filled bushings that absorb vibration, road harshness and noise. The sophisticated rear multi-link design consists of a pair of high-mounted upper A-arms; two lower trailing links and four lower transverse, unequal-length control arms. The upper wishbones are connected to the lower links through long 'twisted' arms, providing a mounting point for each wheel hub. Mitsubishi engineers further tuned the suspension of the VR-X with higher rate steel coil springs and thick front/rear stabilizer bars that help to reduce body roll, and body dive/squat under braking. The rear stabilizer bar and trailing links are mounted by pillow-ball bushings, which provides smooth, progressive roll control and reduces rear impact harshness. The Diamante VR-X comes equipped with speed-sensitive, power-assisted rack & pinion steering. Requiring only 3.1 turns-to-lock, the quick response and reassuring feel of this system provide constant input about the road surface and the car's directional dynamics. Standard traction control helps to prevent unwanted wheelspin, keeping you on track and out of trouble.

To provide confident stopping power, the new Diamante VR-X comes equipped with power-assisted four-wheel disc brakes with four-channel, four-sensor ABS. Up front are 10.9 inch vented discs clamped with a dual piston caliper and the rear solid discs measure 10.2 inch and are clamped with a single caliper. Braking control is further enhanced with electronic brake force distribution to apply hydraulic force to the front or rear brakes where it will do the most good.

The VR-X rides on P215/60R16 all-season performance tires that are wrapped around sporty,16 x 7 inch 10-spoke, aluminum alloy wheels.

The new Diamante VR-X incorporates numerous technologies designed to help enhance occupant safety in the event of a collision. Mitsubishi Motor's engineers use the acronym RISE-Refined Impact Safety Evolution-as a description of their goal to take safety to an even higher level. A number of elements, such as high-rigidity side members, roof reinforcement, large section side sills, door frames and side-guard beams combine to create a tough skeletal structure around the interior. In addition, front and rear crumple zones help absorb impact energy to keep the force of a crash away from the occupants. Even the crossmember that supports the steering column helps protect passengers as this crossmember acts as part of the front bulkhead and helps to increase resistance in a front impact, plus it helps to add rigidity in the event of a side impact. Also standard are front driver and passenger airbags, front height-adjustable, three-point safety belts with pretensioners and load limiters. Rear passengers also have standard 3-point safety belts. For children there are tethers anchors for child safety seats and childproof rear door locks. With a base sticker price of just $26,819.00 the new, freshened Mitsubishi Diamante VR-X is one of the best bargains in the near luxury sport sedan segment. © All text and photos by Harvey Schwartz

For more information on Mitsubishi products, go to www.mitsubishimotors.com. More photos from Harvey Schwartz can be found at www.autofotos.com SPECIFICATIONS Name of Vehicle: 2004 Mitsubishi Diamante VR-X Price: $26,819.00 Engine type: 3.5-liter SOHC, 24-valve V6 with a cast-iron block and aluminum heads Horsepower: 210 at 5,000 rpm Torque: 231 lb.ft. at 4,000 rpm Drive configuration: Front engine, front-wheel drive Transmission type: 4-speed electronically controlled automatic with Sportronic semi-manual shifting Front suspension: Independent MacPherson struts with higher-rate coil springs and stabilizer bar Rear suspension: Multi-link with higher rate coil springs and stabilizer bar Wheels/tires: P215/60R16 all-season performance tires, with 16 x 7 inch 10-spoke, cast alloy wheels Brakes: Front: 10.9 in. ventilated discs with dual-piston calipers Rear: 10.2 in. solid discs with a single piston caliper ABS and electronic brake force distribution Overall length: 196.0 in. Overall width: 70.3 in. Overall height: 56.5 in. Curb weight: 3,560 lbs. EPA mileage: 17 mpg/city 25mpg/highway 0-60 mph: 7.9 seconds

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