Mitsubishi Magna VR-X AWD
road test

A gripping drive? ...... You bet!

Mitsubishi say that the Magna AWD is a gripping drive! But can you believe the advertising? In this case we can say yes, indeed, you can definitely believe the advertising. As soon as you're out on the road, this car tells you in unequivocal terms that it is a gripping drive! Immediately the exceptionally fine attributes of this car make it very obvious that the car is going to be a mighty fine experience.

The Next Car team traveled to Perth to road test Mitsubishi's all-wheel-drive Magna VR-X. This is the sporty model of the Magna range. Whilst the current shape Magna is now into its final year or so, the all-wheel-drive version shows, quite clearly, that the Magna is a car which the market needs. Driving the all-wheel-drive model spoils you beyond belief.

The area chosen for our drive was the south-west of Western Australia. We were to travel some 2,469 kms in just 11 days. We drove from Perth to Busselton via Harvey and Bunbury. Then from Busselton we would drive to Denmark via Nannup, Manjimup and Rocky Gully. Then in the next week, the Next Car team would visit the Stirling Ranges and Albany before returning to Perth via Mount Barker, Kojinup, Katanning, Wagin, Narrogin and Armadale. What a great drive this would prove to be!

On sealed highways the Magna AWD proved it was way ahead of its two-wheel-drive competitors. You just cannot compare two-wheel-drive larger locally-built cars with the Magna AWD. Quite simply, they are not in the same league. Never have been and let us tell you, they never will be. Such is the impressive manner in which the Magna AWD attends to business. Then on unsealed roads the Magna AWD did just as we expected it would....... it demonstrated its clear superiority. We did scores of kilometres on several of the many unsealed roads of the west. The Magna impressed every time. In fact, the Magna AWD makes driving a real pleasure.

We cannot say the Magna is a powerful car, because it isn't! But the power from the 3.5 litre V6 is certainly quite ample for the target market. Hot shot drivers are more likely to be looking towards one of the other local 6-cylinder sporty cars. But for those who aren't seeking back-breaking acceleration then the VR-X AWD is certainly an attractive option. It looks good, it has reasonable equipment levels (but certainly not overdone with luxury) and it has the excellent QuadTec all-wheel-drive system and high-performance brakes.

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Despite all the pleasures provided by this car, there are some shortcomings. There isn't a block-out on the overdrive automatic transmission. Sometimes I feel that I'm the only person left wondering why this is the case! But I'm convinced that this car and, in fact, all others are much more comfortable in top gear rather than overdrive when cruising in town at around 50 km/h. To hammer home this point let me ask a question. Would you put a manual car into overdrive at 50 km/h? The only other thing lacking in the VR-X was automatic headlights! What is the world coming to when we start missing such trivial things as automatic headlights?

The luggage space is good and the interior presentation is excellent. The seating is particularly good. As indicated, we did over 2,400 kms in just 11 days and we were always comfortable. In fact, I suspect the Assistant Editor went to sleep during one of my stints at the wheel!

Somehow I suspect company car drivers who do big distances must be missing the point with the Magna AWD. This is a car which I consider to be idea for those who work from their car. It doesn't do anything wrong and it provides so much comfort and so much pleasure when you're behind the wheel! And the safety aspect of the all-wheel-drive must rate as a major consideration when the boss decides what cars are going to join the company fleet.

At around $42,990 plus the traditional add-ons for dealer and state government charges, the VR-X AWD isn't painful at purchase time! Options, such as the leather trim, which was fitted to the test car will increase the price. The Magna LS AWD is priced from $38,990. The Verada GTVi AWD is priced from $46,990. All are equipped with 3.5 litre V6 and a "SPORTS MODE" sequential gear shift. And we noticed a sporty, but definitely a discreet, note from the exhaust on the VR-X AWD. A nice touch, as it added just a little more sportiness to the package.

In summary, let us sing the Magna AWD's praises all day long. It's just that good, even the negative points do not detract from the immense appeal of the sporty VR-X AWD! I'd like to do the trip again ..... in a VR-X AWD of course ..... and I'd like to do it tomorrow!

Stephen Walker
9th November, 2004


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