Car reviews - Mitsubishi - Magna - SE sedan
Space, relative refinement, still-modern looking wagon
Room for improvement
Coarse 2.6, iffy auto transmission
20 Jun 2003
THE Mitsubishi TP Magna was the final update of the original TM version launched in 1985.
The Magna's generous interior space, good road manners and - for a 2.6-litre engine - responsive performance made it a popular alternative to its Australian-built rivals. It was voted the 1985 Car Of The Year.
The TP Magna was released in June, 1989, and was offered in sedan and station wagon form with four levels of equipment. The base level GLX had the minimum of equipment and the options of automatic transmission and power steering. The Executive had the GLX options as standard and was popular as a fleet car.
The SE equipment level added a four-speaker radio, velour interior trim and fuel-injected engine. The fully optioned Elite had all the convenience and creature comforts including digital instruments and a two-tone colour scheme.
From April, 1990, until the TP was replaced by a new model in January, 1991, power steering and fuel-injection became standard across the model range.
The overall quality of the Magna was quite good and it was almost free of minor niggling problems that afflicted some of its Australian rivals.
All Magnas used the Australian-built, 2.6-litre Astron engine that continued to power Magnas until the V6 was made standard in March, 1999.
The overhead camshaft Astron engine has internal balance shafts to smooth out vibrations inherent in larger capacity four- cylinder engines. Power output was 83kW for the carburetted engine and 93kW for the fuel-injected version.
Transmission choices were a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic with locking torque converter. The major change for the TP was an improved automatic transmission with power and economy modes. This transmission was only available with fuel-injected engines.
Magna's underbody mechanicals follow established front-wheel drive practice with MacPherson strut suspension at the front and a beam axle with coil springs and trailing arms at the rear.
Suburban fuel consumption will range between 11 to 13 litres per 100 kilometres and 9 to 11 litres per 100 kilometres on the highway. This may seem a little high to some people but remember the Magna is a full-size car.
A well maintained and regularly serviced TP Magna will provide economical and reliable transport. Earlier models had considerable automatic transmission problems and minor rust areas but these had been rectified by the time the TP Magna was released.
A competent and comprehensive pre-purchase inspection is essential to uncover any potential problems. Timing and balance shaft drives in the engine will eventually wear and can be expensive to replace.
There are no particular problems with body, paint or under-car components.
Being a front-wheel drive, the front tyres will wear faster than those at the rear and should be rotated regularly.
Service and spare parts are competitive, which is one of the reasons the Magna was popular with fleet operators.
Overall, the SE Magna is roomy, quiet and refined, providing sensible family transport.
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