Okay, it looks good and rides and handles well. Performance is aboveaverage, and you can`t knock a car with antilock brakes as standard.

But the two-seat Buick Reatta coupe does lack one element-other than acouple of back seats. There`s not much pizazz.

Reatta does go glitzy this fall, when a convertible goes into production. How quickly the convertible will be on the market will depend on how quicklyBuick can build enough to ship to showrooms. The debut could be delayed until spring.

One problem with test-driving cars is having a Hyundai Excel at yourdisposal one week and a Corvette the next, then trying to judge each car onits merits. We had just driven a Nissan 300ZX before the Buick Reatta.

The similarities ended with the fact that both are two-seaters. Anycomparison between the two would be labeled apples and oranges. The Z is asports machine; Reatta is a luxury vehicle. With the Z, you think in terms of 0-to-60 miles an hour. With the Reatta, you`re inclined to think about quietoperation and where to fit the golf clubs.

The Z starts at about $28,000; the Reatta at $26,700. Again, to comparethe two would be pitting apple against orange, but with only about $1,300separating the two before options, the $26,700 is a bit disappointing. At$20,000, we`d advise buying a garage full of Reattas. At $26,700, the thought kept popping up: ``For a couple grand more. . .``

Reatta was introduced in January, 1988. Only 1,188 were sold the firstyear. For 1989, sales at the end of May were 3,354. Big improvement, but themarketing folks are still rubbing their heads.

Two factors hurt the car at the outset. The Reatta owes its heritage to a shortened GM N-body (Buick Skylark, Olds Calais, Pontiac Grand Am) platform,which had some wondering how a $26,000 sticker could be justified. Probablyhurting more than most will let on is the fact that when Reatta wasintroduced, you could get it in any color as long as it was red.

The nosedive of the two-seater Pontiac Fiero was still fresh ineveryone`s minds, and, if you recall, red seemed to be the only color Fierocame in at first, too. Some thought of Reatta as no more than a pricey Fiero; others wondered if the car`s goal was to help GM dispose of excess red paint. Reatta is built on a 98.5-inch wheelbase and is 183.7 inches long. Goodroom inside, space Fiero certainly came up short on.

The 3.8-liter, 165-h.p. sequential fuel-injected V-6 is teamed with a 4-speed automatic transmission. Enough power to merge, change lanes and pass.About 25 more horsepower would make a significant difference. With 25 morehorses, Reatta would move up from conservative to conversational.

No complaints with ride and handling. Fast-ratio power steering andindependent four-wheel gran touring suspension help straighten corners andsmooth bumps in the pavement. A livelier engine would compliment thesuspension more.

Standard equip ment, other than antilock brakes, includes airconditioning, theft-deterrent system, hidden headlamps, fog lamps, AM-FMstereo with cassette, six-way power seats, lighted vanity mirrors, leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel, power windows and door locks, rear-windowdefogger, dual-outlet stainless steel exhaust system, steel-belted Eagle GT+4 radial tires, digital instrumentation, clock and trip odometer, and tripcomputer.

All major exterior body panels except roof and front fenders are made ofsteel electro-galvanized metal, so rustproofing is unnecessary.

Add $550 for freight to Reatta`s $26,700 starting price. The only options are a 16-way power seat and a power-operated sunroof.