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Magna's new nip and tuck

2003 TL Mitsubishi Magna ES
2003 TL Magna: ES variant

2003 TL Mitsubishi Magna ES
Powered by 155kW and 163kW petrol engines

2003 KL Mitsubishi Verada
Sat Nav is available for those who want it

It's been on the cards for quite some time now, and finally Mitsubishi has announced that its updated TL Magna and KL Verada line-up will launch in early July.

In a similar evolution to the Commodore - from VX II to VY - the new TL Magna has newly styled front and rear ends, a smattering of mechanical changes and an upgraded interior.

But the first thing that most people will pick up on is the radical styling.

Gone are the angular lines of the superceded model, replaced by what Mitsubishi's new global head of design envisions as the Mitsubishi corporate face, a style that will eventually be part of every Mitsu that rolls off its numerous production lines.

The new look was created by Frenchman and ex-Mercedes designer Olivier Boulay, now in charge of making all Mitsus look pretty.

The frontal appearance of the Magna/Verada range has a distinctive divided grille with a large chrome three diamonds symbol on the front of the car, which can also be seen on the new turbocharged Evo VIII sedan and Colt (aka Mirage) small car.

When he first commenced work with Mitsubishi approximately two years ago, Olivier Boulay said that his main thrust was to make sure that anybody who looked in their rear view mirror would know if a Mitsubishi was following them.

The new TL Magna has two design levels — one for the volume models and one for the more luxurious or sporty models.

Apart from the grille area, the front guards have a more swoopy appearance, with much bigger and more recognisable triangular headlamp assemblies.

The front bumper is a new design to fit in with the smooth, flowing lines that continue through to include the side sills.

The triangular front light assemblies have a black background for all Magna models and Verada GTVi, while Verada Ei and Xi have chrome backgrounds to highlight their more prestigious pretensions.

The frontal appearance of the sporty VR-X has a smooth, integrated, but aggressive look only normally achieved in expensive European performance models.

While the rear hasn't been altered as much as the front end, there is a newly designed bumper (including a unique, more aggressive rear bumper for VR-X - more on this in future), boot lid, and cleaner badging on all models.

The boot lid has adopted a smoother, flatter line than in the past, and garnishes have also been changed to integrate them better with the overall look. New light assemblies have also been included into the rear design.

New-look TL alloy rims are tastefulAll models get new wheel treatments: Magna ES has a new design full-size wheel cover, while all other models have their own uniquely designed alloy rims as standard. A 15-inch alloy rim is optional on ES.

VR has its own 16-inch 10-spoke alloy wheel, VR-X unique 17-inch five-spoke alloys, while Verada Ei and Xi have their own distinctive 16-inch 10-spoke and 15-spoke alloys respectively. Verada GTVi has carried over its 7-spoke alloy.

Speaking of the Magna ES, there are now new model designations too. The aforementioned Magna ES is the entry model that replaces the Executive, LS replaces Advance, VR replaces Sports, while VR-X remains unchanged, as does Verada Ei and Xi. The sporty Verada GTV is now called the Verada GTVi.

The new Magna/Verada range also benefits from a reinvigorated interior: There has been considerable attention paid to the centre console area, with a re-arrangement of the audio and air conditioning controls.

New audio head units have been introduced into the range, and climate control is now standard on all models. The controls adopt the simple three-knob arrangement that was recently introduced in the popular Pajero range.

The floor console has been redesigned and raised to accommodate air conditioning ducting to the rear passenger compartment. This has meant the redesign and relocation of the console box, which now falls more easily to hand, and the relocation of the power window switches to the centre console (except in the case of all Veradas where they are still located on the door pulls).

The console box has a number of new and innovative features too. The underside of the box lid will take a small box of tissues (a nod in the direction of the BA Falcon's tissue box holder), while the box itself has a mobile phone pocket, an accessory socket (to recharge mobile phones) and a compartment to hold six CDs.

The instrument binnacle (speed/tach dials) also gets a facelift, with black background, white markings and orange needles for Magna ES and LS, white background with red markings and needles for VR and VR-X, and high contrast meters for all Verada models.

Comfort hasn't been overlooked in the Magna's mid-life upgrade, and as such a power driver's seat is now standard on all models, which is quite something.

The TL Magna benefits from a number of safety upgrades as well, which now sees all models meet the latest Offset Deformable Barrier (ODB) and Dynamic Side Impact requirements. Front driver's and passenger's air bags are standard, as are side air bags, which are contained in the sides of the front seats.

The new Magna line-up, while slightly more expensive than the superceded model, is extremely impressive, both in terms of its new visage and standard features. One may even go as far to say that Boulay's time at Mercedes (and in designing the million dollar Maybach) is having a favourable effect on the inspired new Magna, particularly in terms of safety and comfort.

Furthermore, even the audio systems on all models have been upgraded: ES, LS and VR get a security coded, high power (30W X 4) electronic tune AM/FM radio, an independently adjustable tone control, a single CD player and six speakers (in four positions) for ES and eight speakers (in six positions) for LS and VR. Telephone mute is also a feature.

Meanwhile, VR-X and all Verada models benefit from a rather tasty premium sound system, incorporating a high power (35W X 4) electronic tune AM/FM radio with a six-disc CD in-dash stacker and 6-speaker front stage and 4-speaker rear stage for a total of 10 speakers (in eight positions). Again, telephone mute is also a feature.

Interestingly, while the wheelbase of the TL Magna hasn't changed, rear legroom has been increased by way of reshaping the rear of the front seats, the rear seat back and cushion, as well as careful re-arrangement of the rear seat hip points and squabs.

Moving onto the mechanical side of the new Magna/Verada range, and the drive-train for all models remains largely unchanged, which is no bad thing. The smooth and progressive 3.5-litre single overhead camshaft, 24-valve V6 engine develops 155kW of power at 5250rpm and 316Nm of torque at 4000rpm on Magna ES, LS, Verada Ei and Verada Xi models.

Magna VR, VR-X and Verada GTVi get a more powerful engine with a tuned exhaust note that develops 163kW of power at 5250rpm and 317Nm of torque at a higher 4500rpm.

Mitsubishi hasn't forgotten the LPG model either, with the monofuel LPG engine available in ES and LS models. It delivers maximum power of 143kW at 5000rpm and maximum torque of 296Nm at 4000rpm.

Although the drive-train remains unchanged, the driving enjoyment has been enhanced with steering rack revisions, and spring and damper rate changes in the suspension set up, combining to provide more sporty ride and handling, but without sacrificing the Magna's impressively compliant demeanour. Rear stabiliser bars are now fitted to all sedan models as well.

At the end of the day, the superceded Magna was always a solid buy in its own right, and now with the new features and modern styling cues, perhaps buyers will show more enthusiasm towards what is often the 'forgotten' Aussie large car.

The prospect of an AWD Australian-built large car is also quite appealing, and it will be interesting to see how the new 2003 TL Magna will be massaged to fit the 4WD underpinnings.

With its new global styling, and impressive list of standard features on all models — driver, passenger and side airbags; power driver’s seat, power windows; power steering; power external mirrors; independent suspension; automatic air conditioning with rear seat ducting; increased rear legroom — the 2003 Magna represents solid value and should give the Falcon and Commodore something to think about. It goes on sale in early July, 2003.

  • Click here for more detailed pricing on the Mitsubishi Magna range

Magna Sedan Wagon
ES
Manual $32,990  -
Automatic $34,790 $36,480
(Note: Mono-LPG is $800 extra)
LS
Automatic $38,230 $39,920
(Note: Mono-LPG is $800 extra)
VR
Manual $37,990  -
Automatic $39,990 $41,690
VR-X
Manual $40,990  -
Automatic $42,990  -
Verada Sedan Wagon
Ei
Automatic $42,490 $45,130
GTVi
Automatic $46,130  -
Xi
Automatic $51,620  -
 
The new TL Magna and KL Verada 2WD variants go on sale in early July.

 

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