Oldsmobile Division's compact Achieva enters the 1993 production run for its first full model year.Introduced in mid-1992 as a new nameplate for Olds' lineup of cars, the well-styled model has been designed to woo buyers in what is probably the most competitive segment of the automotive industry.The Achieva was born with a lengthy list of strengths, including a high-tech power train, an advanced chassis, two leading-edge body styles, and a selection of four models. The line ranges from the most affordable S series, to an SL, an SC, and an SCX coupe that lends itself to sports-car racing.The General Motors Corp. division has adopted the philosophy of something for everybody with this lineup. Offering compacts that can be virtually tailored to a customer's request, the cars sport technology designed to enhance their drivability as well as owner satisfaction.Almost a midsized carWhile considered a compact, the Achieva almost bumps right up against midsized car specifications relative to wheelbase and overall length. Yet it still is light enough that, with an optional dual-cam, 16-valve, four-cylinder engine or a push rod/rocker arm V-6, its performance is quite crisp in either coupe of sedan form.The Achieva coupes are slightly lighter than the four-doors. And when packing Olds' 155-horsepower Quad 4 or a 160-horsepower V-6, any of the two-doors can offer some spirited motoring. For the road racers, power up to 185 horses is available from a W41 Quad 4.The model with the lowest base sticker price is an Achieva S coupe of the type that Paul Shadday, general sales manager of Collins Oldsmobile, provided for a test car. The base is a touch over $13,000; an owner can go from there in creating whatever kind of automobile he or she desires.The test car went upstream to the extent of some $3,000 in options and freight beginning with the optional Quad 4 engine.Quad OHC is standard engineStandard in this car is Olds' eight-valve, single-overhead-cam Quad OHC engine that is strongly based on the dual-cam Quad 4. The 115-horsepower OHC is a reliable, economical power plant. But if you want to go the four-cylinder route, the 16-valve engine has to be the choice.It represents an investment of $410, but its four valves per cylinder provide greater valve area for more air flow than is attainable with the V-6's two valves per cylinder. It revs quicker than either the single-cam 4 or the V-6. And when putting the pedal to the metal, one is left with the impression things are happening under the hood with great zest.The S had a three-speed automatic rather than the Achieva's five-speed manual that goes with the 175-horsepower or the 185- horsepower versions of the Quad 4. As a consequence, driving the car was oriented more toward the pleasurable side of motoring rather than the stand- on-the-gas-and-turn-left variety.Oldsmobile owners, or really owners of virtually any automobile, will be right at home with the Ach ieva. One gets the feeling on first encounter that it seems like we've been here before.Controls are newThe controls are new in that they are not a copy of past Oldsmobiles. And the instrumentation and seating and interior tend to follow a new trend of thought. But no orientation is needed when sliding behind the wheel and taking off.The S had full instrumentation, including a tachometer, and the designers of the instrument panel did one of the best layout jobs we've seen in awhile.All the gauges are right in front of the driver where they are easy to see and read. And none of the gauges located on the perimeter is partially covered by the steering wheel as is the case with some instrument panels.Being a compact, there is more legroom in front than in back, especially if driver and front-seat passenger put their bucket seats all the way rearward. But if locked in a normal midway position on the seat's travel track, rear-seat legroom is sufficient for adu lt passen gers of average size.The S drove like any other Oldsmobile. With the automatic transmission, there wasn't a whole lot to do.The seating was comfortable, the visibility better than average and the ride quite smooth for a moderately lightweight automobile. Four-wheel independent suspension for ease of ride is old hat with front- drive cars these days. But the Achieva improved on the concept by a suspension system with upgraded dual-path front struts and shock absorbers.At speed on the interstate, the S gave the impression of being a lively automobile that was light on its feet. It would go where you pointed it with surefootedness. And while you can't say the car runs with the quietness that is found in limousines, it does run in an easy, really fairly quiet manner.Engine quieterThere has been comment by the motoring media in the past that the Quad 4 engine was prone to noise and vibration. But, thanks to considerable design work, this '93 version didn't give any indication of that.A tuned absorber has been added to the right-hand engine mount to reduce high-speed noise and vibration. The cylinder block has been given extra ribs and gussets to improve its stiffness. A laminated-steel front cover blocks the transmission of camshaft drive noise. The induction system components have been made stiffer. And acoustical material has been added to the front of the passenger compartment.It all adds up to a very pleasurable driving automobile, and one that Olds is going to be making for a long time.Contrary to recent reports that the future of Oldsmobile is somewhat clouded, with models like the Achieva the division is in for the long haul.
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