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Future models - Mitsubishi - Magna

All-paw Magna family minus top guns

Four-ward thrust: Mitsubishi sees 4WD as an opportunity to present a Subaru-style safety and performance image to the public.

Magna is set to release a family of 4WD models but performance versions will have to wait

27 Mar 2002

MITSUBISHI will unleash a family of four-wheel drive Magnas late in 2002, but do not expect the flagship high performance models to be represented among them.

"Engineering issues" mean all-paw versions of the VR-X and stonking Ralliart Magna will not be seen before the end of 2003. The best you will probably be able to do is an all-wheel drive Magna Sports.

Mitsubishi Motors Australia is expected to offer the all-wheel drive system adapted from the Japanese version Diamante on models as far down the totem pole as the base model Executive, as well as luxury Veradas.

MMAL spokesman Kevin Taylor said only sedans would be included in initial all-wheel drive plans. He would not reveal the engineering issues that have caused the VR-X and Ralliart 4WD models to be delayed.

"We are working on a number of engineering issues," he said.

"The recognised performance variants will not be on sale till late 2003."The desire to beat Holden to market with four-wheel drive is an important motivator and the reason Mitsubishi is going with mainstream models initially.

Holden plans to launch all-wheel drive in 2003.

Mitsubishi sees 4WD as an opportunity to present a Subaru-style safety and performance image to the public.

"The traction, road holding and safety will be the fundamental message," Mr Taylor said.

"We will have some private buyers who want it for the extra traction and so on - we also think some fleets will want it.

"We would expect it to account for between 10 and 20 per cent of sales."The mechanical set-up has been finalised with the Australian Magna body dropped over a hybrid Magna/Diamante floorpan that is assembled locally. Local suspension is retained front and rear.

Four-wheel drive export opportunities are already being pursued in the US, Middle East and New Zealand.

There has also been export interest for the two-wheel drive Ralliart Magna, although only New Zealand is a confirmed starter at this stage.

The release of the Ralliart Magna in May will be closely followed by the facelift of the entire range mid-year.

Launched with the facelift will be a Verada GT limited edition.

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