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Beater That's Hard To Beat: 1997-2005 Mitsubishi Diamante

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On: Tue, Dec 22, 2015 at 3:08PM | By: Teddy Field

Beater That's Hard To Beat: 1997-2005 Mitsubishi Diamante

The Mitsubishi Diamante is a well made luxury-ish car that nobody bought. Like most Mitsubishi products, it was designed to be a cut above its competitors, in both build quality and performance. But due to a microscopic marketing budget, no one knew it existed. And those that did know about the Diamante, didn't want to pay Lexus ES money for a car that nobody else ever heard of...which makes it one beater that's hard to beat...

Mitsubishi has always been sort of a fringe automaker that focused more on performance and style than outright practicality. Chrysler bought into the little Japanese firm back in the 1970s, so they could import their fuel efficient cars, thus remaining competitive in the changing American market. This arrangement worked quite well, and Mitsubishi would eventually become the go-to private label manufacturer for Chrysler engines and cars.

While Mitsubishi was flush with Chrysler cash, they weren't allowed to develop a presence in North America, because their cars would compete directly with the cars they built for Chrysler. In other parts of the world, Mitsubishi was a popular brand, and their flagship Magna/Verada sold quite well. But when they shipped the top-spec version (aka Diamante) to the United States, they languished on dealer lots like a box set of Carrot Top DVDs. Nevertheless, the few people that did buy one got a sharp-looking sedan that was loaded with premium features/options like automatic climate control, keyless entry, a sunroof, heated leather seats with memory, and an exceptionally loud Infinity audio system. There was also a sport-themed Diamante VR-X that came with a sport suspension, special wheels, a decklid spoiler, sporty interior trim, and five extra ponies under the hood. You won't mistake the VR-X for a BMW M5, but it still beats the hell out of driving a Camry.

Part of what makes a Mitsubishi so intriguing is the engineering. To that end, the FWD 1997-2005 Mitsubishi Diamante is fitted with sharp steering and a fully independent suspension that offers both a smooth ride and excellent handling. The 3.5L V6 is a brilliantly smooth motivation device, that revs quickly and delivers 200–210 hp amid a glorious roar. This mill is hooked to an equally brilliant Sportronic 4-speed automatic that actually learns how you drive, and will hold gears up to the redline if you fancy a bit of fun. However, you must service this gearbox every 30,000–40,000 miles to avoid premature failure, and the V6 Will require new valve cover gaskets every year or two. But if you keep up with the maintenance, the Diamante will serve you well. And at $3,000–$5,000, it's one luxurious beater that's hard to beat...

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