For 1998, the Oldsmobile Aurora continues with its stylish exterior design, superb road manners, luxurious interior and 250-hp V8 engine. It's basically the same engine used in the Indy Racing League cars that compete in the Indianapolis 500. For 1998, Oldsmobile's flagship sedan comes in three new exterior colors and one new interior color. The suspension, steering and emissions controls have all been refined for 1998. For the most part, however, the Aurora has remained unchanged since its introduction in 1994. With its stunning design, the Aurora was a dramatic departure for a conservative nameplate when it was introduced, but it's now a familiar face. And that's not such a bad thing. The validity of the original concept has passed the test of time. Engineers and assemblers alike have had a chance to work out any bugs that may have afflicted the earliest examples. And people have had time to become accustomed to what was initially a radical design. It's a case of familiarity breeding contentment. But offering the same product for several years in a row brings some built-in challenges. As other manufacturers have introduced new models in the mid-luxury class, the spotlight has shifted away from the Aurora. Many of the recent arrivals offer features the Aurora doesn't have. And just by virtue of being new they have had the opportunity to grab the headlines, relegating the Aurora to the inside pages. The Aurora still has much to offer, but the competition has gotten much stiffer in the form of new import contenders in the $40,000 range, including the Lexus GS300, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, BMW 5 Series and Audi A6.