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Expert Reviews 3 of 5
By Richard Truett
July 23, 1992
If you've been following Cadillac's star-crossed Allante convertible, you could look at the 1993 model and never know it is a different and vastly improved automobile. After all, one could reason, the 1993 model looks exactly the same as every
Allante built since the Italian/American two-seater began rolling off the assembly line in 1987. That reasoning, however, would be somewhat faulty. It's true the Allante's shape is unchanged. But nearly everything inside and underneath that sleek
Italian-designed body has been upgraded. At $61,000 and change, the Allante is the most expensive regular production car you can buy from an American manufacturer. Is it worth it? Some people will never believe an American car is worth this
kind of money - especially those who shelled out for a 1987 model and found they'd bought a car that had more problems than an algebra book. PERFORMANCE The 1993 Allante is the first Cadillac in a decade to feature a new engine. Cadillac calls
the new powerplant the Northstar 32-valve V-8. The name Northstar, by the way, came from the engineering team charged with developing the engine. The Northstar is close to maintenance-free. Aside from regular oil and filter changes, it needs no
maintenance. The first tuneup - a spark plug change - is scheduled at 100,000 miles. The Northstar replaces Cadillac's old push rod 4.9-liter engine, a capable powerplant, but one that lacked the high-tech specifications to do battle with Lexus,
Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz. The Northstar solves all that. It's ultra-smooth and supremely quiet. Floor the accelerator at, say, 35 mph and you'll be tossed back into your seat with enough force to make a space shuttle astronaut experience deja
vu. The Allante goes from zero to 60 mph in just under seven seconds. In combined city/highway driving, the Allante registered 19.0 mpg of expensive premium unleaded. Connected to the Northstar is a new computerized four-speed automatic that sets
the standard for which high-powered front-wheel-drive cars must now be measured. Electronic controls allow Cadillac to do away with many mechanical parts, such as the vacuum modulator and governor. The bottom line is that shifts are nearly
undetectable. HANDLING Here's where another big change has been made. Last year's Allante wasa superb handling vehicle. The computerized suspension system provided a comfortable, yet athletic ride and an almost perfect balance of luxury and sports
car-like handling. But Cadillac engineers weren't satisfied. They ripped out the Allante's suspension system and started over. The difference: At slow speeds, the 1993 Allante has a much more supple ride than earlier models. Allante's
suspension system is still computerized, but it's all new, not just a tuneup of last year's hardware. Cadillac calls the new system RSS, short for Road Sensing Suspension.
Sensors read the road by measuring body acceleration and wheel position during suspension travel, according to Cadillac. A computer analyzes the information and constantly changes the firmness of the ride. The mechanical lay out of the rear
suspension also has been changed from struts to multilink system. All that technical stuff means simply that the Allante is agile when it needs to be. When driven over smooth roads in a straight line, the Allante feels almost as soft and forgiving of
small imperfections as a Cadillac sedan. The four-wheel power-assisted anti-lock brakes are excellent, providing tenacious stopping power. The speed-sensitive rack and pinion steering is fairly heavy, but tight and precise. The convertible top is
the car's only weak point. The test car sported a gorgeous black cloth top. But raising and lowering takes more work than should be required in such an expensive car. Without going through the process, let's just put it this way
In GM's Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme convertible , a car costing about a third as much as the Cadillac, it's easier to raise and lower the top. The seats are terrific; they feature adjustable lumbar supports that can be raised and lowered as well as
moved in and out. There's a full menu of power accessories, including such things as a compact disc player and heated outside mirrors. The Allante has come a long way since those dark days of 1987 when Cadillac got it all wrong.
Truett's tip: With the introduction of the 32-valve Northstar V-8, Cadillac's flagship has everything you could want in an ultra-luxury convertible. Everything, that is, except a power top.