Mitsubishi Magna 2005 Review
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Subtle at first, rising with the tacho needle to become almost tuneful, changing its note as the driver feels the thrust to climb up the octaves to scream as the revs hit red line.
This supercharger music is addictive and its audiences traditionally pay a lot of money to hear the symphony that plays in concert with the thrill of numbingly quick acceleration.
Not any more. Entry to supercharged power within the conservative facade of a Mitsubishi Magna is relatively inexpensive.
In designing, building, testing and now marketing a supercharged Magna, WA-based Sprintex Superchargers – part of Australian Automotive Components – has made a boosted family sedan available for about $7600 on top of the car's basic price.
Better, the supercharger is designed for all 3.5-litre Magnas in front-drive and all-wheel-drive format, on cars as fresh as factory direct – notably including Mitsubishi's latest 5/10 warranty – or as a retro-fit proposition.
Buyers get a Sprintex twin-scroll supercharger that sits within the hollow of the V6's banked cylinders, and a 0-100km/h rush that cuts 1.5 seconds off the standard model's time to bring up the ton in just seven seconds.
At least that's what is on offer with the first supercharged Magna in the world that comes with tacit approval from Mitsubishi in Adelaide.
"I'll stress that Mitsubishi does not endorse or has been directly involved in this project," Sprintex managing director Tony Hamilton said. "But they are aware of what we're doing and the product is fully ADR compliant."
Sprintex's enhancement of the standard engine raises power to 226kW from 158kW, and torque to 422Nm from 330Nm. More importantly, the performance arrives without touching the tacho's red line, with power peaking at 5200rpm and torque at 4000rpm.
Aside from the supercharger that sits flat and appears factory-fitted under the bonnet, Sprintex adds a cold-air intake that sucks fresh air from beneath the front spoiler, then changes the engine mapping and fuel delivery, and the five-speed Tiptronic box has slightly different pick-up points and a transmission oil cooler.
The AWD prototype I tested has been made specifically for its debut at the Melbourne Motor Show in March. It adds WA-sourced extras such as a twin exhaust system, 18-inch alloys and high load-rated 235/40ZR Falken tyres, new front and rear bumpers with a stainless-steel mesh grille, and slightly firmer suspension lowered 30mm.
"We can supply this car, as it is, for less than $55,000," Mr Hamilton said. "That puts it, in performance terms at least, up against all-wheel rivals such as the Audi A4 turbo-quattro series, Volvo S60 AWD and even the all-wheel-drive HSV Coupe.
"The fact that the Magna AWD will cost $30,000 less gives it a lot of interest. You'd be battling to find a similar package."
Sprintex and AAC have had other forays, including the one-off 320kW 4.6-litre V8-engined and supercharged Ford Falcon AU Coupe, and its four-door 300+ sister, and are finalising a supercharged Harley-Davidson V-Rod.
Mr Hamilton said the Magna was chosen because of its ubiquity and because in AWD form it offered the potential to be a fast, safe and family oriented sedan that could take on more expensive European rivals.
On the road the 2004 Magna VR-X AWD's performance is as understated as its silver paintwork.
There is an omnipresent whistle of the supercharger, blending with the deep roar of the twin exhausts.
It's certainly music and certainly appreciated over a short duration, though it could become harsh on longer journeys.
But it's early days and Sprintex emphasises that this is a development model.
More appreciated is the flexibility of the engine. The torque band is so fat that the engine can be dribbled down to 1000rpm with the car trolling in fifth gear at 30km/h. Mash the accelerator pedal and, even allowing for torque converter slip, the acceleration is astounding.
That carries over to country touring where power is on tap across the rev range for brisk overtaking.
In the city there's not a lot of cars as quick from the lights – and certainly none that looks as innocuous – and on wet or unsealed roads this thing is dynamite.
Impressively, the power delivery is linear without any peaks and is so smooth that the speedometer needle's progress must be metered. The handling limits of the AWD package – itself a development of the Evo VI rally car – simply add to the extra power to make the supercharged car safe yet a lot of fun on winding roads.
But the best news is that the car is very similar to the standard Magna. It is a fuss-free, simple enhancement to a highly rated all-wheel-drive sedan. Buyers of MG, Rover and now Mitsubishi cars with superchargers aren't penalised with warranty work if the service schedule is followed.
"From our side, the supercharger requires little attention other than a belt change every 50,000km," Mr Hamilton said.
Range and Specs
|ES||3.5L, ULP, 5 SP MAN||$3,300 – 5,170||2005 Mitsubishi Magna 2005 ES Pricing and Specs|
|ES (LPG)||3.5L, LPG, 4 SP AUTO||$3,740 – 5,500||2005 Mitsubishi Magna 2005 ES (LPG) Pricing and Specs|
|LS AWD||3.5L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO||$4,510 – 6,710||2005 Mitsubishi Magna 2005 LS AWD Pricing and Specs|
|VR-X||3.5L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO||$4,840 – 7,040||2005 Mitsubishi Magna 2005 VR-X Pricing and Specs|
Lowest price, based on third party pricing data