Car reviews - Mitsubishi - Magna - Executive sedan
Space, power, handling, economy, refinement, styling, longevity, sheer value for money
Room for improvement
Not much - this generation Magna makes a superb used family car
20 Jun 2003
THE all-new third generation Mitsubishi Magna, launched in April, 1996, was a significant improvement over its predecessor in looks, performance and safety.
The Magna's design was based on the Diamente, a luxury model only available in Japan, with major changes to suit Australian driver preferences and roads.
The image of the Magna as a predominantly four-cylinder car was altered by making an Australian-built 3.0-litre, V6 engine available. This moved the Magna head to head with the big three Australian-built cars - Camry, Commodore and Falcon.
This strategy proved very successful and V6 versions of the Magna sold extremely well. But Mitsubishi did not desert economy-minded buyers who preferred a smaller engine, making available the Japanese sourced four-cylinder engine.
The automotive media were impressed and it won a major Car of the Year award.
The Magna had two levels of equipment, Executive and Altera, with the Executive as the base model.
The Executive is comfortably fitted out with a security coded, four speaker AM/FM sound system, remotely adjustable mirrors and power steering. Air-conditioning, cruise control and alloy wheels were options.
Anti-lock brakes were only available with packages which included air-conditioning and either driver-only or dual airbags.
The new four-cylinder engine is smaller than its predecessor - 2.4 versus 2.6-litres - but has a higher power output of 105kW because of the more efficient twin camshaft cylinder head and sequential fuel-injection.
The automatic transmission has a clever electronic control system which varies the transmission shift pattern to suit the driver's style.
It also adapts to the road conditions so there is less gear shifting and some engine braking down hills.
Performance is improved compared to the previous models with the TE in automatic form able to accelerate from zero to 100km/h in 11.3 seconds and covering the standing 400m in 18.3 seconds.
The aerodynamically slick body - the air drag figure is a commendably low 0.28 - and the increased engine efficiency markedly improved the Magna's fuel consumption over the previous model.
Steering and suspension are two areas where the TE Magna moved up to the top of the class.
Front-wheel drive and accurate steering make it very stable and easy to drive at highway speeds, especially in cross winds.
The suspension is firm enough to keep body roll and understeer to a minimum without losing anything in ride quality and comfort.
The TE Magna took the competition right up to its rivals and either equalled or bettered them in most of the areas important to normal drivers.
The combination of comfort and refinement with four-cylinder fuel economy is hard to beat.
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