The '94 Mitsubishi Diamante LS sedan we tested offers abundant power from the 3-liter, 24-valve, 202-horsepower V-6 teamed with 4-speed automatic. Diamante is light on its feet moving from the light or swinging into the passing lane. And the V-6 and automatic are smooth and quiet.

Even though there's lots of power, the mileage rating is an impressive 18 m.p.g. city, 24 highway.

Equally impressive is Diamante's ride and handling. It shares the same suspension with the 3000GT SL grand touring sports car. You get a firm grip onthe pavement without being jostled over bumps. You sit flat in corners and turns, with no body lean or sway. In fact, Diamante allows you to accelerate in turns. If you live in the Snow Belt, have $678 ready to put on the table for the traction control option.

The list of standard amenities is also impressive-dual air bags (passenger-side new for '94), 4-wheel anti-lock brakes, air conditioning (CFC-free refrigerant), power and memory driver's seat, leather seating, powerwindows/door locks, remote keyless entry, AM-FM stereo with steering wheel controls, trip odometer, cruise control, illuminated visor vanity mirrors, power steering, and alloy wheels with locks. Traction control is the only option.

As impressive as the car is, the sticker read: Base price-$32,500. Add a $470 freight charge for a total of $32,970.

As nice as the performance and creature comforts are, the price tag is a bit steep. Diamante is in the same price range as a Mazda 929 or Mazda Millenia luxury sedan, or a Toyota Lexus ES300 luxury sedan, but from $1,000 to $6,000 less than an Acura Legend sedan and $4,000 to $7,000 less than a Nissan Infiniti J30 sedan.

More important, at $32,500 it comes close to a Mercedes-Benz C280 luxury sedan, close enough that if you are in the $30,000 to $35,000 neighborhood, you should give the Mercedes a long look, an even longer test drive and probably 36 to 60 months worth of a portion of your earnings.