1990 Porsche 928

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$23,950
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chicagotribune.com
Flash and dash, that`s what the Porsche 928 is made of.

The flash, of course, comes from the distinctive styling, from the you- can-tell-from-a-mile-away low-slung sheet metal up front to the bulbous tail, complete with spoiler that tells others what animal is coming long before it arrives.

The dash comes from the 5-liter, 32-valve, V-8 tuned to deliver 326 horsepower when teamed with 5-speed manual, or 316 horsepower when you order it with automatic.

The 5-speed is for those to whom performance is the top priority, the 4- speed for those to whom image is the primary aim and chasing Corvettes is only a pastime.

The 5-speed is for the open road, the automatic for those who travel expressways in rush hour and don`t want to shift every 5 feet.

Our test car came with the 5-speed, which also features a firmer suspension, wider wheels front and rear and a wider rear track to increase handling at speed for performance enthusiasts.

With manual or automatic, antilock brakes are standard, to ensure the stops are as quick as the starts. As an added safety measure, driver- and passenger-side air bags are standard.

The zero- to 60-mile-per-hourtime with the manual is 5.6 seconds. Top speed is 171 m.p.h. With the automatic, you have to accept some sacrifices, reaching 60 m.p.h. from a standing start in 6 seconds and a top end of only 165 m.p.h.

No one said life was fair.

The EPA rating with the manual is 13 miles per gallon city/19 highway; with automatic, it`s 15 and 19. Either way, add $1,300 in gas-guzzler taxes to the sticker, the penalty you pay for the performance.

No one said life was cheap, either.

The 928 borrows from Porsche`s racing heritage. An automatic variable- ratio, limited-slip differential developed and tested on the Porsche 959 is standard, as is a tire pressure monitoring system first used on Porsche`s Group C race cars and then on the 959.

Thelimited-slip differential uses electronic controls working with the antilock braking system sensors and a multidisc clutch. The system can adjust the locking factor from zero to 100 percent, based on inputs that signal differences in rear wheel speed. It also recognizes brake use and lateral acceleration to keep the wheels from slipping on the pavement.

The tire pressure control system can detect slight changes in inflation pressure and warn the driver via text and a flashing arrow pinpointing the offending tire on a schematic in the dashboard information and diagnostic system. Correct tire pressure, of course, enables optimum road holding and handling at highway speeds while prolonging tread wear.

Exceptional acceleration, excellent braking, above-average cornering and a name that bestows the owner with prestige. Those are the hallmarks of Porsche.

As for drawbacks, other than price and mileage, there is the rear seat, which is too small to carry any thing larger than babes in diapers or your leather racing gloves.

Standard equipment includes air conditioning, power seats finished in leather, an AM/FM digital stereo cassette radio with 10 speakers, power and heated outside mirrors, the driver information and diagnostic system providing data on 21 items, adjustable steering column, power windows, cruise control, fold-out armrests in the doors, electric sliding sunroof, heated windshield washer nozzles, electro-galvanized body panels, power brakes and steering, 16- inch tires (225/50 ZRs front and 245/45 ZRs rear), fully independent suspension, retractable halogen headlamps, front air dam with integrated fog lights, leather-covered steering wheel and rear-window wiper.

Among the options are a compact disc player at $689, heated seats at $522 and phone installation kit including wiring, antenna and console, but not the phone, for $664.

The 1990 928 starts at $74,545, same as the `89. Add the $1,30 0 guzzler tax and $655 for freight.

>> 1990 Porsche 928. Wheelbase: 98.4 inches. Length: 178.1 inches. Engine: 5-liter, 316/326 h.p., 32-valve V-8. Transmission: 5-speed manual; 4-speed automatic. Fuel economy: 13/19 m.p.g. manual; 15/19 automatic. Base price: $74,545 plus $1,300 gas guzzler tax. Strong point: Performance, ABS/air bags, prestige image. Weak point: Mileage, price. Chicago Tribune Graphic.

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