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Revitalised: The new Sports is a crucial member of the Magna range.

Mitsubishi launches its vital new Magna range with an emphasis on high performance and aggressive looks

8 Aug 2000

THIS is the aggressive new face of Mitsubishi Australia's TJ Magna, the car the company needs to sell in big numbers if it is to survive as a manufacturer here beyond 2000.

The Magna's biggest styling change since its launch in 1996 is the centrepiece of a $30 million upgrade which also sees: * The introduction of the aggressively-styled VR-X sports model
* A 16kW power increase for the 3.5-litre V6 engine in the Sports and VR-X models
* The Sports Mode auto transmission upped from four to five gears in Sports and VR-X and linked to an improved traction control system
* A CD player become standard across the range
* Driver's airbag standard in Executive and Sports
* Dual airbags across the rest of the range
* The deletion of the Altera LS sedan and wagon
* No manual option for any wagons or the Advance sedan
Prices are also up across the board and, despite that, so are sales expectations for the second half of the year.

From bottom to top, the 11 model derivatives - including the KJ Verada luxury models - still encompass over $20,000 difference in sticker price, between $27,770 for the base-line 3.0-litre Executive sedan to $47,990 for the feature-laden Verada Xi Most models rise by between $780 and $980, although the Sports models' new performance is reflected in a $1560 rise for the manual and $1350 for the auto, which gets the new five-speed self-shifter.

The new VR-X full-dresser comes at a $3000 premium over the Sports.

The smallest rise in price is at the top end of the range, Veradas rising by less than $500.

With these prices Mitsubishi claims to offer better value for money than any other medium/large car available in Australia and argues it builds the safest local car.

Mitsubishi is planning to increase its Magna/Verada sales volume from 2350 per month now, to 2850 per month for TJ/KJ. While that sounds ambitious, MMAL is expecting a general post-GST market sales lift to aid its ambitions.

It expects Executive to claim 51 per cent of sales, Advance 28 per cent, Sports and VR-X 8 per cent, and the Veradas 13 per cent.

Mitsubishi plans to build 42,000 Magnas this year, 30,000 for domestic sales and 12,000 for exports.

In addition, MMAL aims to halve the current order to delivery time of around 30 days.

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