Home Car Quick-Lane Foreigners: 1991 Sports activities Sedan Comparability

Quick-Lane Foreigners: 1991 Sports activities Sedan Comparability

Quick-Lane Foreigners: 1991 Sports activities Sedan Comparability


From the July 1991 difficulty of Automotive and Driver.

The late Andy Warhol predicted that everybody sooner or later can be well-known for fifteen minutes, however time is operating out and you continue to have not made the quilt of Individuals and even been a finalist on “America’s Most Stultifying Dwelling Movies.”

Say, would you pay 44 cents a minute to announce to the world who and what you’re? The cellphone firm costs half that, however sadly your message would solely attain one listener at a time—not very cost-effective.

You might strive the tv internet­works, like Mr. Iacocca does, however for 60 seconds of air time they need the equiv­alent of what Roger Clemens will get for pitching a complete, exhausting 9 in­nings of baseball towards such formidables because the Seattle Mariners­: $200,000 or so.

Perhaps you ought to think about an vehicle, one which mirrors your type and picture, to not point out your haircut, your cool élan. So our assembled gamers price about $35,000 every. So what? Should you drive one 15,000 miles a 12 months for the subsequent 4 years, averaging 45 miles an hour, it’s going to price you a measly 44 cents per minute to broadcast your tastes and means to everybody on the highway, on the automotive wash, and in entrance of essentially the most overpriced restaurant on the town.

After all, this self-mirroring enterprise, like modern dressing, will be dangerous—the message obtained shouldn’t be all the time precisely the one the sender intend­ed. Is the proprietor of that sensible little Kyongsang Pudhopper EX an excellent client, or simply an expedient skinflint? Does that grand Wellington-Ross HMS 6.5 carry an individual of refined tastes, or of unchecked self-importance?

Think about the seven sedans we have col­lected right here. They’re all comparatively uncommon head-turners. Fleet of foot (they zip to 60 mph in lower than ten seconds), all are ca­pable of greater than 120 mph, which after all can be unsuitable, however who desires to broadcast the message, “Hey, I might not be quick, however I positive am low!”

The names of our fast-lane foreigners pretty lilt off the tongue: Acura Legend LS, Alfa Romeo 164L, Audi 90 Quattro, BMW 525i, Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.6, Saab 9000CD Turbo, and Volvo 940 Turbo. Already it sounds such as you’ve mastered a international language.

We examined the automobiles within the type mostly chosen by their consumers. Meaning automated transmissions, which People overwhelmingly desire to handbook gearboxes, even in automobiles like these. Amongst our contestants, solely the Audi was fitted with a five-speed as a result of, in reality, all 90 Quattros are. (An automated shouldn’t be accessible on any all-wheel-drive Audi besides the flagship V-8.)

We gathered our area in sunny South­ern California and spent a piece week on the highway—testing, measuring, pondering . . . and attempting to find routes not closed by snow or mudslides. The Monsoons of March ended the drought (for a month anyway), however they did not dampen our enthusiasm to learn how these expressive cars stack up. Even automobiles supposed to make a press release must work as automobiles, and for the cash these cost, they need to work nicely certainly.

After some onerous driving and more durable judging, we had our solutions. And rankings that mirror our opinions. We found that every one these automobiles are particular, and that every one are acceptable. However some are extra acceptably particular than others.

seventh Place: Volvo 940 Turbo

From the logbook, a diary of driver impres­sions: “Does not really feel very spirited.” “It isn’t a chore to drive, however it presents no actual pleasure.”

Few automobiles have the cult attraction that Volvos do. A loyal clientele has reply­ed for many years to this Swedish picture of security, reliability, sturdiness, and sensibil­ity. But even the latest Volvo felt dated and overmatched in toe-to-toe compari­son with our half-dozen alternate options.

The 940 collection is the corporate’s new household of sedans and wagons, and the Turbo is its lustiest instance. However our 940 did not win many hearts, despite the fact that it had the bottom sticker worth of the group, $29,813.

HIGHS: Nice seating consolation and visibility, high quality appointments.
LOWS: Thrashy engine, highway manners of a a lot heavier automotive, dated really feel.
VERDICT: Loyalists will not must test-drive anything.

Oh, there was a lot to love about this Swede, beginning with high quality brakes and sheetmetal contours which are softer and rounder than its 740 father or mother’s. And the massive, long-cushioned seats drew raves: supportive, cozy, upright, and mount­ed excessive within the automotive. (One driver tagged this “the king of Sweden driving posi­tion.”) The inside design retains the rectangles and straight strains of the 740, however every part is nicely executed in high quality supplies, making a businesslike cockpit.

The home windows are tall, like searching of a management tower. The brand new Volvo is a com­fortable, safe place to sit down, for hours on finish.

However driving the 940 Turbo for those self same hours is not a very rewarding expertise. Although steering response is great and the suspension retains the tires in good contact with the highway, the physique strikes round fairly a bit, creating a sense of ponderousness. From the driv­er’s seat, you’d by no means guess the 940 tied for second-lightest curb weight.

Additionally disappointing was the racket from the Volvo’s four-cylinder engine. The 162-hp turbocharged 2.3 turned in acceleration occasions that put it in mid-pack, however it additionally raised a decidedly agricultural din. It completed final in each the top-speed and fuel-economy derbies.

So the Volvo pigeonholes itself within the cultist people-hauler slot: it really works okay in its method, however that is not a method that stands as much as hard-nosed comparability purchasing, in our view. Lengthy could the Volvo trustworthy disagree with us.

From the logbook: “It appears tall, outdated, sedate, stodgy.” And: “Stiff and jiggly on uneven blacktop; the wheels keep planted, however the driver is stirred in fairly the unsuitable method.”

1991 Volvo 940 Turbo
162-hp turbocharged inline-4, 4-speed automated, 3180 lb
Base/as-tested worth: $29,675/$29,813
60 mph: 8.4 sec
1/4 mile: 16.6 sec @ 82 mph
100 mph: 30.6 sec
Braking, 70­–0 mph: 165 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.76 g
C/D noticed gas financial system: 18 mpg

fifth Place (tie): Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.6

From the logbook: “A lazy-feeling automotive. It is re­luctant to rise up and go, and when it lastly does, it nonetheless would not ship a lot.” “High quality is great.”

The little 190 Mercedes could have been in over its head right here. We’d have requested a 300 to hold the Benz ban­ner towards a 5-series BMW and the massive Saab, however the window sticker would not lie: search for a Mercedes round $35,000 and that is what you discover. The truth is, the 190E, at $37,392, was the most costly automotive on this group. Additionally the lightest, essentially the most cramped, and the least highly effective. Does that imply it is merely overpriced? You would possibly make a case.

Nonetheless, the 190E 2.6 is fantastically put to­gether and feels strong as concrete. From the high-gloss wooden trim to the agency seats and barely scattered minor swap­es, it gives a real Mercedes-Benz expertise.

HIGHS: High-quality building and supplies, nice bad-road experience.
LOWS: Lazy engine, outmoded transmission, excessive worth.
VERDICT: An actual Benz, however not a fantastic Benz.

Would that it labored higher within the bar­acquire. We have now no grievance with the experience, and the automotive’s dealing with poise appears to enhance because the highway floor deterio­charges. However in most different measures of dy­namic means, the six-cylinder 190 simply type of lies there. Although smooth-running, the 158-hp engine generates solely modest thrust. Exceptionally lengthy throt­tle-pedal journey would not assist. Nor does an automated transmission that lacks the graceful shifting, prepared kickdown, and basic refinement of at present’s typical GM Hydra-matic. An over-exuberant trac­tion-control system cuts engine energy in middling-hard cornering: it made tight mountain roads much less enjoyable and our skidpad take a look at unimaginable to conduct correctly.

We anticipated the 190 to path the sphere in rear-seat spaciousness however have been sur­prised to seek out even the motive force’s ft and knees competing with pads and trim pan­els for a spot to be. Particularly annoying was the under-dash cowl that snagged the toe of the best shoe as the motive force pivoted between throttle and brake.

Any person referred to as this the Cadillac Cimarron of Mercedes’s line. That is per­haps too harsh, however the 190 does danger coming off as an imitation of a status automotive. Or at the least as a really outdated status automotive (the physique dates from ’84, the engine from ’87). It is an actual Mercedes, although, no query. It simply occurs to be priced like larger and higher automobiles.

From the logbook: “Too bodily in all of the unsuitable methods.” “Beautiful experience, however appears to lumber alongside.” “This automotive feels just about unchanged from the outdated 2.3.”

1991 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.6
158-hp inline-6, 4-speed automated, 3100 lb
Base/as-tested worth: $34,070/$37,392
60 mph: 9.4 sec
1/4 mile: 17.4 sec @ 82 mph
100 mph: 31.0 sec
Braking, 70­–0 mph: 177 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.69 g
noticed gas financial system: 21 mpg

fifth Place (tie): Alfa Romeo 164L

From the logbook: “I discover myself considering its failings are okay as a result of that is, in any case, an Alfa.”

Although profoundly completely different in heri­tage, execution, and character from the Mercedes 190 (and greater than $3200 cheaper), the Alfa 164 toted up and boiled right down to a dead-heat end with the newborn Benz in our total judgment. It additionally, regardless of some endearing traits, could not rise above the competitors arrayed towards it.

In our first take a look at of a 164 (a top-of-the-­line S mannequin in June 1990), we discovered the normal Alfa quirkiness pretty nicely un­der management and the automotive’s efficiency good. For this take a look at, pricing and the dearth of an automatic-transmission possibility on the S compelled us into an L-model, and alongside the best way the hearth went out. The three-liter V-6 loses 17 hp between S and L trim, and that mixed with the softer energy supply of an autobox dragged 0-to-60 occasions from 6.9 seconds to 9.8—an entire persona of distinction.

HIGHS: Distinctive styling remedy, lusty engine sounds.
LOWS: The engine solely sounds lusty, and steering weight feels odd.
VERDICT: Good, however nowhere close to the quicker, sportier S-model.

Everybody preferred the unconventional styling of the 164’s physique. The combina­tion of a growly engine and high-feed­again suspension provides the automotive a gritty, mechanical really feel that holds promise for the fan of the driving artwork. Flip up the in­tensity on the highway, nonetheless, and that promise fades. The steering’s self-cen­tering forces are curiously robust and ar­tificial-feeling, giving little clue to how onerous the entrance tires are working. And our slalom take a look at turned up a darty instability within the rear suspension.

The boldly designed inside of the Alfa, particularly all of the slatted panels and sq. buttons of the dashboard, look authentic. And it really works nicely sufficient, after an acceptable orientation interval. The driv­ing place is arms-out however not arms-­stretched-out, and the seats are decently snug.

So the 164 is an undeniably attention-grabbing automotive, one that’s uncommon however not so bizarre as to make it unlivable—as some Alfas have been. We wished very a lot to love our 164 L. However in too many small methods, it allow us to down—one thing that did not hap­pen with different automobiles that its $34,142 worth compelled it to compete towards.

From the logbook: “Its sparkling-good appears to be like aren’t aided and abetted by glowing­-good efficiency.”

1991 Alfa Romeo 164L
183-hp V-6, 4-speed automated, 3440 lb
Base/as-tested worth: $29,015/$34,142
60 mph: 9.8 sec
1/4 mile: 17.5 sec @ 83 mph
100 mph: 27.1 sec
Braking, 70­–0 mph: 176 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.76 g
noticed gas financial system: 20 mpg

4th Place: BMW 525i

From the logbook: “Good driver! Lacks energy.” “All the pieces works so very nicely and with nice confidence. Maybe the very best balanced automotive within the take a look at.”

This was our first time behind BMW’s new multivalve “small” six, and the re­sults inform all: the 525i completed in fourth place, however it almost tied with the third­-place Audi and slotted in respectably near the winner.

This newly powered price-leader 5-series provides an fanatic driver a lot to like, together with stability and poise on twisty roads, very good seats and driving en­vironment, in all probability the very best styling of this group, and faultless construct high quality. Some testers famous the numb spot within the steering round dead-ahead, however in each different method, the 525i actively approaches driving as a sport, a pastime, and a pas­sion. Your thighs, seat, torso, and shoul­ders are positively positioned by the deep buckets, your thumbs discover completely fashioned rests on the wheel’s higher spokes, your eyes and proper hand have the dash-center devices and controls canted towards them.

HIGHS: Superbly made, fantastically formed, lovely to drive.
Engine wants revs—and a handbook gearbox—to actually work.
VERDICT: A real driver’s automotive: strong, balanced, and built-in.

Beneath method, the BMW feels keen and spirited, with velvety management response, prepared maneuverability, and good nook­ing grip. But it surely is not significantly quick. This 189-hp 24-valve 2.5 represents a wel­come enchancment over the 168-hp twelve-valver (C/D, July 1989), however it wants revs to make energy. And which means the motive force has to maintain it spinning. Greater than another autoshifter right here, the BMW cried out for a handbook field. And in a single respect—high velocity—what functionality the engine does have is hobbled. The 525i is electronically restricted to 128 mph, ostensibly due to tire rankings but in addition in all probability for advertising and marketing causes: it mustn’t crowd the efficiency of the dearer 535i.

Material upholstery that regarded a bit of downmarket was the one seen sugges­tion that we have been in an “financial system” BMW. That idea is relative. At $36,683, our 525i surpassed all as-tested costs right here save the 190E’s. But no en­thusiast will query the BMW’s worth.

From the logbook: “Very candy. No rocket however not dangerous, and the chassis presents fantastic give and take.” “Very strong, very safe, delightfully responsive.”

1991 BMW 525i
189-hp inline-6, 4-speed automated, 3600 lb
Base/as-tested worth: $35,555/$36,683
60 mph: 9.6 sec
1/4 mile: 17.5 sec @ 83 mph
100 mph: 26.3 sec
Braking, 70­–0 mph: 178 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.77 g
noticed gas financial system: 21 mpg

third Place: Audi 90 Quattro

From the logbook: “A fabulous machine. Gentle, supple, responsive, forgiving, and comfy.”

The Audi was a little bit of a ringer attributable to its five-speed handbook gearbox, however we did not wish to depart the all-wheel-driver out of the take a look at, particularly as a result of we had been impressed with the distinction its 20-valve engine made after we first sam­pled it. Because it seems, the Audi would have taken the crown as sportiest sedan of this bunch it doesn’t matter what transmis­sion it carried.

HIGHS: Taut, direct really feel; unmatched grip and foul-weather traction.
LOWS: A small, noisy cabin, comparatively talking.
VERDICT: The one clear sports activities sedan right here, and a jewel wherever.

It is a startlingly agency automotive, virtually onerous. From the seats to the steering-wheel rim to the experience high quality, little in the best way of pad­ding isolates the motive force from the automotive or the highway. Typically, that is nice. It provides the 90 a really optimistic really feel. On tough pavement, although, the highway rumble can assault your ears, and the five-cylinder engine can do the identical on the elevated speeds it must ship punch. However total we loved the Audi’s taut, direct method and its agency really feel.

The 90 did come up quick—and small—when referred to as upon to do sedan­-type passenger responsibility. Its inside mea­sures tighter than all however the Mercedes 190’s—and it felt perhaps snugger than that—and its trunk capability was the smallest of all. None of which bothered the individual lucky sufficient to be on the wheel. The Audi drew reward from all quarters, even earlier than the climate turned rotten.

When the rain and snow fell, whoever had the 90 Quattro grew downright belligerent about stopping for a driver change. The CB radios crackled with challenges: “That is it, I am locking the doorways, I am right here for the period,” and “You’ll be able to have my Audi once you pry my chilly, useless fingers from its wheel.”

Anybody needing extra convincing that the $32,735 Audi 90 Quattro deserves the tag “sports activities sedan” can simply have a look at two classes of testing the place it racked up the massive numbers: skidpad grip and in­terior noise. That will not represent the definition of a sporting automotive, however it’s a good information.

From the logbook: “A particularly silky automotive on {smooth} pavement. The experience is tight and managed, the directional stability glorious.” “I am in love. How a lot a month?”

1991 Audi 90 Quattro
164-hp inline-5, 5-speed handbook, 3180 lb
Base/as-tested worth: $28,935/$32,735
60 mph: 8.2 sec
1/4 mile: 16.3 sec @ 84 mph
100 mph: 25.4 sec
Braking, 70­–0 mph: 182 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.81 g
noticed gas financial system: 21 mpg

2nd Place: Saab 9000CD Turbo

From the logbook: “Perhaps the very best throughout.” “This engine is a delight.” “Appears like a four-liter V-8.”

Saab’s luxurious 9000CD, with the brand new balance-shaft 2.3-liter turbo 4, set the tempo for sheer velocity and got here inside simply two factors of taking all of the chips. Based mostly on earlier expertise with a hatchback, five-speed 9000 Turbo, we had anticipated the notchback automated to be large, cozy, and swift. However we had not anticipated its extensive margin of victory within the velocity contests. The 200-hp engine (with 222 pound-feet of torque at a low 2000 rpm) belted the automotive to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds and hurled it down our take a look at straight at 141 mph. No different automotive right here approached these feats. And the Saab 4 ran with an eerie, silky smoothness that rivaled the Acura’s V-6 and embar­rassed the Alfa’s. It is a outstanding engine.

HIGHS: Distinctive mixture of dimension, stability, and blistering velocity.
LOWS: A niggle right here and there, however nothing critically noteworthy.
Almost unimaginable to beat as an fanatic’s sedan.

The automotive it propels so energetically additionally leaves treasured little to complain about. From the perspective of an fanatic or a accountable head-of-household (realizing these will be one and the identical per­son), the $34,853 CD Turbo is pleasant and efficient. Tall, upright seats give good assist, the controls work with precision (some testers would have preferred an adjustable steering wheel), and the cavernous cabin retains everybody com­fortable. The CD’s new walnut instru­ment panel provides a component of class. On virtually any sort of highway, the massive Saab exhibits nice composure. It beneath­steers when pushed, and the within entrance wheel can simply spin exiting sluggish cor­ners. However the automotive tracks completely down straights and dances into and thru turns with poise sudden in such a big automotive. Large humps and dips create no extra physique flop or suspension slop, only a properly damped, hydraulic sensation. And any time temper and situations dic­tate, a push on the best pedal can serve up a headlong rush into the distant scen­ery. It is onerous to think about the motive force who wouldn’t be impressed with this automotive.

From the logbook: “Fast acceleration to 130 with no engine thrash. Superb for a four-­cylinder engine. GM wants a few of this for the Quad 4.”

1991 Saab 9000CD Turbo
200-hp turbocharged inline-4, 4-speed automated, 3220 lb
Base/as-tested worth: $34,853/$34,853
60 mph: 6.8 sec
1/4 mile: 15.2 sec @ 93 mph
100 mph: 17.9 sec
Braking, 70­–0 mph: 179 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.75 g
noticed gas financial system: 21 mpg

1st Place: Acura Legend LS

From the logbook: “Appears like the massive automotive that it’s. It responds fairly properly, however I am all the time conscious that it is a big, heavy piece.” “Nice en­gine. All of the torquiness of regular aspiration, however the energy and smoothness of a turbo.”

Curiously, our testers had a wider di­vergence of opinion on the victorious Acura than on the second-place Saab. However regardless of the combination of bravos and but-then-agains within the logbook, when the factors have been totaled, the Legend eked out the win.

HIGHS: Engine energy and refine­ment, construct high quality, management efforts.
LOWS: Its excellence is usually too delicate to register.
VERDICT: The winner, pure and easy. What else is there?

A lot of the controversy in regards to the newest large Acura hovers across the high quality of sport­iness. One contingent inside our merry cadre identified how hefty the automotive felt, they usually thought of its cornering poise a bit too waffly. Admitting it did nothing unsuitable, in addition they felt it did not appear com­pletely glued to the highway within the twisties. Each steering and brakes lacked crisp suggestions.

The automotive’s supporters, in the meantime, seized upon the Legend’s mild, delicate management efforts and its fast, predictable responses. That, they claimed, made for a sportier driving expertise than, say, the BMW’s heavier helm. Everybody praised the three.2-liter V-6, the largest powerplant right here and tied with the Saab for highest energy score at 200 hp. The Acura six is a gem: versatile at low speeds, lusty at excessive speeds, satin-smooth in any respect speeds.

So is the remainder of the automotive, however usually it shines in a delicate, understated method. Might­be too understated. Its styling, for in­stance, is unremarkable, but clear and tasteful. If the automotive would not scamper via bends like a jack rabbit, neither does it ever shock you or put a wheel unsuitable. It is a superb open-road cruis­er, with unmatched refinement. And for high quality of match and end, the Legend scores among the many finest within the automotive world.

The Acura Legend accomplishes its duties easily and subtly, fairly than with overt spirit and verve. Succesful as it’s, it could actually fail to make an impression. That will account for the boundless respect however certified affection our drivers felt to­ward it.

From the logbook (the comparability cleaned up considerably): “The Acura is the Meryl Streep of cars. She acts flawlessly, however I would not care to become involved.”

1991 Acura Legend LS
200-hp V-6, 4-speed automated, 3500 lb
Base/as-tested worth: $34,861/$34,861
60 mph: 7.8 sec
1/4 mile: 16.3 sec @ 83 mph
100 mph: 23.7 sec
Braking, 70­–0 mph: 191 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.76 g
noticed gas financial system: 19 mpg

1991 volvo 940 turbo, mercedesbenz 190e 26, alfa romeo 164l, bmw 525i, audi 90 quattro, saab 9000cd turbo and acura legend ls

Automotive and Driver

Because the General Score scores illustrate, we had 4 automobiles right here that made sense to us. The BMW, the Audi, the Saab, and the Acura spoke to us with a mixture of competence and magnificence. We might not look askance at somebody selecting to pay the value for any of them.

The 525i flattered us with its presump­tion that we have been severe drivers. The Quattro entertained us with its racy de­meanor. The 9000 freed us from com­promising between utility and velocity.

However in the long run, the Legend would sim­ply brook no problem. Swift and silky, it fortunately took up any driving chore we threw at it. If the automotive left us little to re­mark on within the course of, nicely, that will simply be a measure of how unflappable it’s. And who may deny, considering forward to issues of upkeep and reliability, that the Acura probably represented the lowest-risk buy right here?

In the case of expressing private type, plus saying a factor or two about good household transport, the Acura Legend simply has all the nice strains.



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