Oldsmobile produces Aurora, new flagship luxury sports sedan
Date Posted: 5/10/2005
In the continuing quest to construct a full-size luxury sedan which rides and drives and performs the agile tricks of a sports car, there's a new entry for 1995 and it goes by the new name of Aurora.
In the styling department, Aurora looks as slick and smooth and sensuous as anything on the road today.
In the power department, it packs a sophisticated V8 engine rigged with technical marvels and ample horsepower.
In the comfort department, Aurora fits and feels like some luxo-liner shipped straight from Japan or Germany.
But Aurora is not an excessively priced import.
It's an Oldsmobile built in the United States and it lists for thousands less than the imported luxury sport sedans at which Aurora is targeted.
Aurora is, in a word, sensational.
Consider it the new flagship for a General Motors line which during the 1980s lost its identity as the brand of innovation and far-flung automotive invention. Those Rocket V8 engines and fast things from 1949 forward gave way to nebulous nomenclature of a homogenized collection of GM cars which looked and drove like one another, no matter what badge appeared on the grille.
Today, though, the Oldsmobile Division attempts to venture into new territory, automotively speaking, as it forges new products for the next five years which, once you see them all, will bear some resemblance in style and intent to new Aurora.
That's the word from John Rock, Oldsmobile's general manager whose mission it is to redefine the line.
Rock has his work cut out for him because of those past problems of image and hodgepodge models, but Aurora appears to be, at the least, an excellent start.
On a test drive with Rock in a silver bullet of a prototype Aurora, we scooted through rolling pine forests of northern Michigan as I tried to trick the car into behaving around tight corners or at high speed over humps like the big and mushy American stretchers of Oldsmobile's past.
Aurora would not play my game, however, because it cut a tight and precise line in every maneuver I demanded. No-squeal turning, no-effort steering, no-nonsense managing of suspension components over road bumps, no-deviation routing for emergency brake paths -- these were the traits I found,
Aurora behaved like the world-class car that it is.
And it is simply gorgeous.
Riding on a full-size platform Aurora shares with the new Buick Riviera coupe, this Olds features rounded styling lines which are strictly its own.
The look appears as water in motion, all fluid and flowing in rounded, sensuous patterns, save for a distinctive crisp crease at the center of the prow which extends rearward across the sloping front hoodline. Dennis Burke, Aurora's chief designer at the Oldsmobile studio in Warren, Mich., explained that this sharp crinkle -- adding a straight line in the face of all those curves -- provides dynamic tension to the overall design. "Otherwise, Aurora would look like a nebulous jelly bean, as there would be no point of focus," he told me.
Despite the fact that Aurora's lines are unique, they nevertheless seem vaguely like those of Riviera due to the roundness of form. Because of this, I had expected Aurora to drive in a manner similar to the Buick, which gears its performance toward traits that the over-50 set prefer with the edge taken off the precision of cornering and a certain damping of horsepower due to Riviera's task of pushing such tonnage down the road with only six cylinders.
Where Aurora surprised me was in the way its driving and performance characteristics varied from those of Riviera. You see, the Oldsmobile slants strictly toward the sporty end of automotive acrobatics, which is precisely the way I like a car to perform -- and Oldsmobile is betting that's also the way those now grown and often affluent Baby Boomers want their luxury cars to drive.
Regarding Aurora's tilt toward luxury, understand that the contents aboard this autoship include every possible creature comfort to transport as many as five people in classy style.
The interior layout plies two comfortable bucket seats in front and a rear bench sculpted for up to three. Front seats fit in sport-action manner, then move with up to six power positions.
Everything inside this sedan hinges on power operation -- from windows and door locks to mirrors (with built-in defogging mechanism), and more. Buttons mounted on the sport steering wheel allow fingertip control for audio and climate control systems.
Dual climate zones with rear seat air conditioning vents illustrate the depth of comfort factors addressed by Oldsmobile's designers.
Yet, to me at least, the most significant aspects of this car's character concerns its aggressive powertrain components and the mechanical gear which make it so lively.
The new powerplant, a dual-cam V8 with aluminum upper block and four valves for each cylinder, produces a lusty 250 horsepower rating. This engine, exclusive to Aurora, is a modification from the remarkable Cadillac Northstar plant that sets a new high mark for American motor design.
Aurora's V8 couples to the latest electronically-controlled GM automatic 4-speed transmission. I find it one of the smoothest to shift and still most controllable in today's marketplace.
The independent 4-wheel suspension system creates another hallmark: The precise feel for the road yet still a smooth ride quality easily add up on my scorecard to the best sport-tuned ride sensation ever achieved by an American-built automobile.
Steering, via a rack and pinion system which uses magnetic connections to provide tension control that varies with vehicle speed, feels crisp and to the point. Brakes, with a disc at each wheel and anti-lock action governed by a computer, becomes the first of many safety assets which include dual airbags up front and even traction control.
Only one trim level for Aurora signifies that this is a car complete in its long list of mechanical and comfort features. Options are limited to more aggressive performance tires, a Bose audio system and power sunroof.
Aurora feels and drives wonderfully, and for $31,995 it's priced to compete aggressively with the imports.
1995 OLDSMOBILE AURORA
| Vehicle Specifications:
| 1995 OLDSMOBILE AURORA Specs
| Model Options:
| Overall Length:
| Engine Size:
||DOHC 4.0-L V8 32v
| Gas Mileage:
||$ 31,995 to $ 35,500