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First look: New York debut for new Magna

Dramatic: The new front-end look of the Magna was developed under the direction of world styling boss Olivier Boulay.

The Big Apple hosts the launch of the all-Aussie TL Magna

17 Apr 2003

THIS is the dramatically facelifted "TL" Magna that will go on sale in July.

Codenamed "XR" during its development, this Magna must get Mitsubishi Motors Australia through to the all-new mid-size car that goes on sale in 2005, followed in 2006 by a long-wheelbase version.

We're seeing TL so early because the export version of the car had its world reveal as the Mitsubishi Diamante at the New York auto show overnight.

The photographs here are of the very prototype that was shipped to New York for the show. While not exactly the same as the local model - the bumpers are bigger to accommodate the US 5mph impact regulations - it is pretty darn close.

This car most closely resembles the local Verada variant, but there's not much to pick in styling terms between the Magna and its more luxurious close relation.

Styled under the guidance of Mitsubishi's new global styling chief Olivier Boulay by Mitsubishi Australia's Richard Holden and Dennis Nicole (now retired), the frontal appearance of the car has the distinctive divided grille with a large chrome three-diamond symbol on the front.

The look tied in with Mr Boulay's stated intention that he wanted anyone looking in their rear-view mirror to know they were being followed by a Mitsubishi.

Apart from the grille area, the front guards have more steeply raked lines, there's large triangular headlights that wrap back up over the guards and bonnet and a new front bumper design.

The rear-end does not look much different to the existing Magna, but there is a new design bumper bootlid and new badging. The bootlid is now flatter and garnishes have been changed in an attempt to integrate them better into the overall look.

Inside there has been considerable attention paid to the centre console area, while the instrument binnacle also gets a facelift. Interior trim fabrics have also been updated in search of a more classy and co-ordinated feel.

There has also been some work to improve the chassis and suspension, but drivetrain remains fundamentally unchanged with the choice of four and five-speed automatic transmissions mated to the 3.5-litre V6 engine.

The two-wheel drive sedans and wagons go on sale first, followed by the all-wheel drive variants about two months later. The Ralliart Magna is not scheduled for update until 2004.

The Diamante will go on sale in North America around September-October, with the car set to be sold in Canada as well as part of Mitsubishi's expansion into that market. It will also go on sale in Puerto Rico.

Mitsubishi's other major export market is the Middle East, but because the current TJ bodyshape is quite fresh there, TL will not make it there until September 2004. That means MMAL's Tonsley Park assembly plant will have to build both models simultaneously for a while.

MMAL sale and marketing chief Bill Pike estimated total 2004 exports would add up to about 25,000-27,000, with North America accounting for about 22,000. In 2002, 17,000 Diamantes were sold in the US.

But Mr Pike said there were more export opportunities opening up.

"In the future we expect to have more countries to sell this car to and we are discussing it with a range of potential customers," he said.

"We are on the verge of a couple of reasonably significant export contracts."


MITSUBISHI Australia is understandably reticent to discuss the TL Magna in too much detail so far out from its local launch, but the following was revealed.

Name changes:
Magna base model Executive becomes the ES
Advance becomes LS
Sports becomes VR
Magna VR-X continues
Verada GTV becomes GTVi and a full-time member of the range
Verada Ei and Xi continue Standard equipment:
Auto air-conditioning
Rear air-conditioning ducts
Powered driver seat
Power windows
Dual front airbags
Side airbags Ride and handling:
Retuned steering
Retuned suspension Drivetrain:
Fundamentally unchanged
Dedicated LPG available in ES and LS Exterior:
New front design
New rear design
A through C-pillar section unchanged
Two front-end presentations - low spec ES and LS and upper spec for the rest
New wheel covers or alloy wheels for all models bar GTVi Interior
New centre console design including new-look a-c controls
Lower console incorporates power window switches, except Verada where they stay on the doors
New instrument combinations
New finishes
New steering wheel boss

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