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By Jim Mateja
May 13, 1990
Sigma. What is it? It`s a four-door luxury sedan that`s as much pleasure to drive as aToyota Cressida, Nissan Maxima or even a Lexus ES250. Who makes it? Mitsubishi, the folks that make the Eclipse at Diamond-Star.
Sigma is one of the best kept secrets on the market, not surprisingbecause it started life as a Mitsubishi Galant, the original best kept secret on the market. Mitsubishi reasoned that if Honda could add Acura, Toyota Lexus andNissan Infiniti, it
could have its own luxury product called Sigma. So, allthe bells and whistles were added to the Galant and Sigma was born asMitsubishi`s top-of-the-line model. Now that you know the background, be advised this is Sigma`s last year on the market.
Mitsubishi might keep the name but that`s unlikely when an all-newtop-of-the-line luxury car previews in mid-1991 as a 1992. The replacement is just being introduced in Japan under the Diamantenameplate. The 1991 Diamante, or whatever
Mitsubishi calls it in the U.S., is larger than Sigma. It`s built on a 107-inch wheelbase and is 186.6 inches long,versus a 102.4-inch wheelbase and 185.6-inch length on Sigma. Diamante isroughly the size of a Honda Accord or Ford Taurus. The U.S.
Diamante will feature a 2.5- or 3-liter, 24-valve V-6 borderingon 200 horsepower. A new luxury sports version of the Galant will come outthis fall called VR-4, which sets the stage for Diamante by offering four-wheel drive, four-wheel steering and
four-wheel antilock brakes. The front-wheel-drive Diamante being introduced in Japan offers all those, plustraction control and an air suspension system. Unlike Acura, Lexus or Infiniti, the new car will be sold throughexisting Mitsubishi stores.
Dealers won`t have to plow $3 million into aseparate site that wastes land just to salve the manufacturer`s ego. We asked Mitsubishi the chances of coming up with a version of theDiamante under the Chrysler name. Based on Iacocca`s tirade against
Japaneseimports, the chances of a Chrysler Diamante are remote, we were told. Back to the `90 Sigma. It`s powered by a sprightly but quiet 3-liter, 142-h.p., V-6 with 4-speed automatic with overdrive that`s rated at 18 miles per gallon
city/22 m.p.g.highway. The gear lever selector button allows you to engage overdrive when youwant optimum mileage on the open highway. For optimum power, leave the button alone. The two times it came down to a decision to hit the accelerator or the
brake, we hit the accelerator to avoid trouble and the V-6 delivered the boostneeded without hesitation. Had we chosen to hit the brake, Sigma`s four-wheel antilock system wouldassure fast, straight stopping regardless of road conditions.
The suspension system complements the engine performance and takes it astep further. Sigma features air-controlled shocks with self-leveling andautomatic valving as well as anti-lift and an
ti-dive geometry to keep thevehicle on an even plane under hard acceleration or braking. In laymen`s terms, you float on a cushion on the straightaways, but hangtough in the corners and turns without body swing or sway. The power steering is as
nimble as that on a Honda Prelude, probably the benchmark for powersteering systems. There`s plenty of arm, head and leg room front and rear, comfortableseats and a trunk that seems to have been designed by a magician, considering all the stuff you
can hide inside. The only objection is a heavy, prop-held hood. Base price is $17,879, and you get a lot for the money. Standard equipment includes driver-side air bag; power brakes andsteering; four-wheel antilock brakes; air
conditioning; tinted glass; AM-FMstereo with cassette and controls in the steering wheel; power windows/doorlocks; cruise control; digital quartz clock; rear window defroster;intermittent wipers; color-keyed, dual, power mirrors with
lectric defogging;power antenna; color-keyed bumpers; bodyside moldings; 15-inch, steel-beltedradial tires; stainless-steel exhaust; bucket seats with eight-way manualadjustment for the driver; velour upholstery; split fold-down rear seatbackswith
pass-through to trunk; remote hood/fuel filler door/trunk openers; andmudguards.