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Japanese import vehicles have been called many things over the years-high-quality, well-engineered, fuel-efficient. One adjective that hasn't been used very often, though, is luxurious.
The Acura Vigor is certainly a vehicle striven to change that perception, combining many of the best elements of a sports coupe and a touring sedan.
In our test vehicle, a 1994 Acura Vigor GS four-door sedan, we found an ambitious and innovative attempt to improve the import sedan in terms of ride, elegance and Performance. For an MSRP of $28,827, our Vigor GS delivered all the power assists, conveniences and safety measures we've come to expect in a luxury midsize sedan, including an AM/FM stereo with cassette and CD players, air conditioning, a lush leather interior and dual air bags-all standard.
It also boasted a number of technical marvels, most notably a five-cylinder, 2.5-liter, 20-valve power plant delivering a level of performance that competing four-cylinder import sedans would be hard-pressed to match.
Unfortunately, the Vigor GS doesn't reach the upper echelon of luxury sedans because its interior is too small, inches short of what its prime competitors are offering
Particularly when compared with earlier, smaller, Japanese imports, the Vigor GS would fulfill any buyer's wish list in terms of ride, handling, sound isolation and performance. None of those old four-cylinder jobs would be able to match the response we unleashed from the Vigor GS's five-cylinder, 20-valve, 176-hp engine. Our test vehicle ripped from 0 to 60 mph just as a true sports sedan should. When it accelerated from 60 to 90 mph in fifth gear, the Vigor GS eclipsed our highway passing requirements by a comfortable margin.
Shifting was smooth and effortless with the five-speed manual transmission. Even cruising at low speeds through a parking lot was fun thanks to the inclusion of a wide-range second gear. Cornering and maneuvering were quick and stable with the Vigor GS's sophisticated, double-wishbone, four-wheel independent suspension smoothing things out.
Wind, engine and road noise didn't penetrate the interior of our test vehicle at any speed. And bumps, jolts and road shock were all but nonexistent during our two days of testing---and we traveled on some rough, broken-down city streets and hilly freeways.
Team Acura accomplished one important part of their mission with the Vigor GS sedan: They've given owners of older, smaller imports a responsive, elegant and comfortable step up to a midsize sedan.
Acura also created a marvel of technical sophistication with the Vigor GS and filled it with thoughtful extra touches, such as a tiny visor over the rearview mirror to reduce headlight glare. However, this car fell inches short of becoming one of our favorite midsize sedans because of its elegant but way-too-snug interior.