They claim the emotive benefits of all-wheel drive include dynamic handling, the pleasure of driving, image, superiority, exclusivity and individuality. The rational benefits they attribute to it include greater traction, safety, ground clearance, robustness, towing reliability and stability.

The results of the survey, conducted by Austrian all-wheel-drive component maker Magna Steyr, were announced at the 4th International All-Wheel-Drive Congress in Graz, Austria, in February.

Coincidentally, Mitsubishi released its all-wheel-drive Magna and Verada models about the same time, but the pre-launch demand hasn't exactly translated into big sales. In fact, a lot of things could have been done better in launching Australia's first home-grown all-wheel-drive sedan, which has beaten Holden and Ford to the top of the all-wheel-drive podium here.

That's a shame because the Magna all-wheel drive is one of the sweetest-handling, most functional sedans on the Australian market – even more important given it has been designed and built here.

Compared with the standard front-drive Magna, the all-wheel drive is flatter through the curves and shows less nosedive on braking, with minimal rear-end squat on acceleration.

These traits extend to improved general handling, enhancing the confidence of the Magna through tight bends while minimising the front-drive version's slight tendency to understeer.

In saying all this, the front-drive model is as good as most drivers will want. For such owners, understeer is about as tangible as the tooth fairy. For you guys, the standard Magna Sports ($39,590) is an excellent car and the extra $3700 for an all-wheel drive is probably best spent on three years of fuel.

However, for those who enjoy a brisk drive and understand the safety advantages, there is the comfort of knowing that this is the most affordable mid-size all-wheel-drive sedan on the market. It's also a great drive.

Mechanically, the Magna/Verada all-wheel drive uses some oily bits from the Japan-only Diamante all-wheel drive and also includes a few from the Lancer Evo VI, and together it's called QuadTec.

All this is powered by one of my favourite V6s, the 3.5-litre that goes to 180kW and later this year will stretch to 200kW – all on standard unleaded petrol.

The Sports all-wheel drive gets a healthy 159kW – up 5kW from the standard model though arriving 500rpm later at 5500rpm – and serious torque of 318Nm at a surprisingly brisk 4000rpm.

Mitsubishi sells its all-wheel-drive sedan range in three models – Magna all-wheel drive, Sports all-wheel drive (as tested) and Verada all-wheel drive– and all come only with a five-speed Tiptronic box.

Standard on the Magna Sports all-wheel drive are sports suspension and brakes, climatic airconditioning, electric windows and mirrors, dual airbags and 215/60R16 Bridgestone tyres on seven-spoke 16-inch alloys.

I appreciate the way this car works – seating five adults and having a huge boot – and can complain only about the depressing black-on-black dashboard and ageing body shape. Let's hope such grumbles will vanish next month with the new Magna – and that all-wheel drive continues as an option.