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Magna and Verada AWD Sedans Set Benchmark for Traction

4 December, 2002

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Mitsubishi Motors has won the race to be the first Australian manufacturer to release its production AWD.

The Magna and Verada AWD sedans will set the benchmark for roadholding and traction when they become the first Australian manufactured large AWD sedans to go on sale to the general motoring public early in the New Year.

Mitsubishi will release several hundred of its AWD before the end of this year, but they have all been sold. Other buyers will have to wait until early in the New Year before they will be able to take delivery of this eagerly awaited car.

The car was developed locally by Mitsubishi?s engineers. They took a luxury Japanese AWD Diamante, added some vital elements from the famed Lancer Evolution, and mated it to the local Magna to produce a car that is ideally suited to Australian conditions. The silky Australian-made 3.5 litre V6 engine and local suspension, the Japanese AWD system and elements of the floor pan, came together with the balance of the Australian mechanicals and body to produce an Australian first ? a locally produced large AWD sedan.

There were many engineering challenges to overcome, but with typical Australian doggedness and ingenuity Mitsubishi?s Australian engineers have developed a car that will be brought to market after a quite short development time.

The AWD system ? called QuadTec - uses many elements from the famed Lancer Evolution rally-bred car in its drive-line, and it is this viscous coupling system which puts the power to the ground through all four wheels.

The Mitsubishi AWD sedan range has three models ? the Magna AWD, the Sports AWD, and the luxurious Verada AWD. These AWD models will come in five-speed tiptronic-style INVECS II ?Sports Mode? automatic only, and will be sold in parallel with the existing Magna and Verada 2WD range.

The Magna AWD model gets upgraded 16? brakes, unique 10-spoke alloy wheels, Bridgestone Turanza 215/60R16 tyres, rear stabiliser bar, passenger air bag, power windows, front door courtesy lamps, dual multi parabola headlamps, chrome gearshift surround, leather covered steering wheel and gear shift lever, ?AWD? badging in the instrument cluster and chrome shift surround, and on the front fenders and rear of the car, in addition to the extensive range of Magna?s standard equipment. The external mirrors and side splash protectors are colour keyed.

The Sports AWD model is based on the Magna Sports sedan and gains the Magna Sports standard features, along with all the above standard features, but gets 215/60R16 Bridgestone Grid II tyres and 7-spoke 16? alloy wheels as additional features.

The luxurious Verada AWD model is based on the Verada Ei, and consequently gets a comprehensive list of standard features - many of the above features are already standard - but adds the upgraded 16? brakes, rear stabiliser bar, AWD badging, and chrome shift surround.

The engine for Magna and Verada AWD delivers maximum power of 154kW at 5000rpm and maximum torque of 310Nm at 4000rpm. The Magna Sports AWD engine delivers 159kW of power at 5500rpm, and maximum torque of 318Nm at 4000rpm.

All models now have a 70 litre fuel bladder (in lieu of the 72 litre tank), and shift interlock (automatic shift and ignition key lock). The Sport and Verada AWD models do not have switchable traction control ? as their 2WD counterparts do ? as the AWD system makes this redundant.

The existing colour palette is unchanged, and prices and options are (prices indicative only):

Magna AWD Sedan 5 speed A/T $37,490
Options Sunroof $1850
Sports Sedan 5 speed A/T $43,290
Options Sunroof $1850
Verada AWD Sedan 5-speed A/T $46,460
Options Nardi wood steering wheel/and gear shift lever $475
  Leather trim and sunroof $4,080

1. Introduction

Mitsubishi?s first generation TM Magna was released in 1985, setting new standards for a wide-bodied medium car.

The second generation commenced with the TR series in 1990, and ran through until the third generation was released in April 1996. Through the second generation model life a 3.0 V6 engine was added to the base 2.6, 4 cylinder model range, first in the luxury Verada model, and then progressively through to the Magna base Executive model, thereby maintaining an ongoing, strong market appeal.

The third generation TE Magna/KE Verada range won widespread acclaim because of its stylish Euro looks, its fully independent suspension, whisper interior quietness, great roadholding, general refinement and powerful and highly efficient V6 engines. In the process the third generation Magna/Verada range won almost every ?Car of the Year? award through 1996/1997.

At the time of its release in 1996 the TE Magna was initially released with both a 2.4 litre four-cylinder engine and a locally made 3.0 litre V6. At that stage it was becoming clear that Australian buyers were moving away from medium/large 4 cylinder based vehicles towards 6 cylinder vehicles. The new TE/KE V6 range, with the combination of the powerful, yet highly fuel efficient 3.0 litre V6, and the silky smooth 3.5 litre V6, quickly became the clear choice of the growing number of Magna/Verada buyers.

Subsequent model year upgrades in TF/KF, and the TH/KH series saw Magna/Verada continue to build its position as a genuine alternative to other large market sedans, particularly in the key fleet market. Moving in step with market demand the 4 cylinder engine was retired from duty, and the Magna/Verada range was powered only by six-cylinder engines from the time of the introduction of the TH series forward. The base engine became the 3.0 litre V6, while the 3.5 litre V6 became generally available across the whole Magna range.

The introduction of the TJ Magna and KJ Verada range in August 2000 saw the introduction of the revised styling with its divided grille and new bonnet shape which is still current today. With the market moving clearly towards the powerful, but very fuel efficient 3.5 V6, the 3.0 V6 was gradually phased out.

During the development of the current generation a series of new sports variants were added to the Magna range, in response to the increasing customer demand for more sporty, performance models. Mitsubishi?s first foray into this area came with the introduction of the 3.0 litre V6 Sports in August 1997. This was followed by the introduction of the 3.5 V6 VR-X, with enhanced engine power, at TJ launch in August 2000. Finally and most importantly, came the introduction of aggressively styled, high performance Ralliart Magna model, in the middle of this year.

Now Mitsubishi is taking a further step forward in terms of providing a product range that continues to move in tune with changing customer requirements. With the introduction of its all-wheel drive (AWD) Magna/Verada range ? which will run in parallel to the 2WD Magna and Verada models ? Mitsubishi is bringing for the first time, the safety and ride/drive and handling benefits of AWD technology to large car buyers, at an affordable price.

2. Market Background

Australians have traditionally had a strong underlying interest in 4WD, not only in the traditional All Terrain product area, but also in the Passenger product area ? with the various benefits of 4WD technology, including superior ride/drive, road handling, vehicle stability and safety, almost universally recognized and highly valued.

In the Small and Medium 4 Passenger car segments 4WD or AWD volume levels have increased from 4,000 per year in 1996 to an expected 14,000 units in 2002, an impressive increase of 250%. This growth has basically all gone to Subaru, with its across the board AWD models, and has occurred in spite of these AWD products generally carrying a price premium of $4,000 - $5,000 over competitor 2WD products in these segments.

In the Prestige/Luxury car segment the increase in AWD volumes has been even more impressive, albeit from a much lower volume base, with volumes lifting from just 400 in 1996, to an expected 2,000 units in 2002, an increase of 400%. This growth has been driven by the influx of new AWD models by Audi, Jaguar, VW and Porche, with Audi the main player (Audi A4/A6 AWD).

To date buyers in the Large 6 Passenger car segment have not had access to an AWD model, although there has been ongoing indications of strong interest in AWD amongst buyers in this segment, both anecdotal and by way of research.

Through 2001 Mitsubishi commissioned market research among Large 6 buyers to quantify the level of interest in AWD for Sedans. This research indicated a strong level of interest in AWD, among all Large 6 buyers, (Commodore/Falcon/Magna/Camry).

Given this background Mitsubishi set out to develop and introduce a locally built AWD product range to cater for buyers in the Large 6 market segment.

3. AWD Engineering Features

3.1 Engine

The standard engine available on Magna and Verada AWD range is the powerful, fuel efficient, 3.5 litre SOHC, 24-valve, electronically injected V6 engine.

It develops maximum power of 154kW at 5000 rpm, and 310Nm of torque at 4000 rpm.

Magna Sports AWD engine develops maximum power of 159kW at 5500 rpm, and maximum torque of 318Nm at 4000 rpm.

The engine?s power and torque characteristics have been matched to the drive-train to give an extremely tractable and enjoyable car to drive.

3.2 Transmission

The standard transmission across the range is the five-speed smart logic INVECS II ?Sports Mode? tiptronic-style automatic transmission, that is common with Lancer Evolution GT-A.

The ratios are:

1st 3.789
2nd 2.057
3rd 1.421
4th 1.000
5th 0.731
Reverse 3.865
Final Drive 3.684

3.3 Brakes

Brakes have been upgraded to the 16? (wheel) brakes currently available on Ralliart Magna.

The front ventilated disc is 294mm in diameter (up 18 mm in diameter) with two-pot calipers, while the rear brakes have been upgraded from 258 mm solid discs to 284mm ventilated discs with single calipers.

The resultant package gives better pedal feel, and improved stopping through a 30% increase in swept area and better fade-free performance.

Considerable local ABS development work was undertaken by MMAL and Bosch, both in Australia and New Zealand, with additional hardware and extensively revised software to ensure the resulting package would provide the optimum braking performance.

The changes were required due to the cross-talk which occurs between braking wheels in a full-time AWD system with Limited Slip Differentials.

3.4 Wheels

All models carry 16? X 6? alloy wheels with a unique finish.

The Magna AWD has a unique 10-spoke design, while the Sport has a 7-spoke design. Both of these wheels have a unique sparkling silver finish.

The Verada AWD carries over the same wheel design as its 2WD variant, but with a shadow chrome finish to give a distinctive appearance.

3.5 Tyres

All models wear 215/60R 16? Bridgestone tyres. The Magna AWD and the Verada AWD models have Turanza, while the Sport AWD model has Grid II tyres.

3.6 ?QuadTec? Drive Train
Comparative testing was undertaken with the AWD Diamante, Australian Verada (because it has switchable Traction Control) and a RWD Commodore, with traction control in the Victorian snowfields. These tests proved conclusively that although the AWD Diamante needed some changes for Australian conditions, it had much better traction than any of the others with which it was compared. The 2WD Verada was better than the Commodore in these conditions.

The next step was to try and fit the Australian 3.5 litre V6 engine into the Japanese Diamante, to test how they mated, and what engineering challenges it might present. Once this was done the engineers knew that they had a car which would be eagerly sought after for the Australian market. They simply had to determine how they could achieve such a car for volume production, and how it could be built down the Tonsley Park production line.

The answer was to keep the Australian suspension components ? the MacPherson strut front end and five-point multi-link rear ? and Australian body and engine. A new aluminium front cross-member was necessary in order to fit the transfer case in, and a new floor pan under the cabin area was also necessary, as a transmission tunnel was necessary in which to run a prop shaft. A new fuel tank was also necessary, as the prop shaft for the AWD system would have gone through the existing fuel tank of the Australian car.

The answer was found in taking the floor pan, fire-wall and fuel tank of the Japanese Diamante, and grafting the Australian body and mechanicals to these parts.

Major development challenges were the all-new front suspension cross-member steering stystem, exhaust systems and ABS.

The key elements of the drive-line are:

1. The rear Limited Slip Differential is a mechanical plate type, the same as the EVO VI RS (motorsport version). When a speed differential exists between the left and right rear wheels the LSD will distribute torque evenly between the rear wheels.
2. The Transfer Assembly.
- the transfer case is a common case with EVO VI,
- the front differential is an open unit, and is the same as for EVO VI RS and EVO VII,
- the centre differential gives full-time all wheel drive. Its ?slip? (or differential action) is limited by a viscous coupling unit (common with EVO VI), which automatically and optimally distributes torque to the front and rear wheels.

This arrangement enhances drive-away acceleration, straight line stability, and manouverability while also enabling outstanding performance on poor road services.

Under normal conditions (when there is almost no speed difference between the front and rear wheels), the centre differential provides 50:50 torque distribution between front and rear. If a speed discrepancy occurs between the front and rear wheels, the VCU limits the differential action of the centre differential so that the front/rear torque distribution is instantly and optimally adjusted.

- The output shaft from theTransfer Box to the rear differential is the same as EVO VI.

A new steering rack and knuckles were required. The rack has different mounting points, and sits higher than on the 2WD car. This meant that the steering knuckles also had to be changed.

The exhaust systems on the AWD car are substantially different from the 2WD car, to clear the transfer case, prop shaft and new crossmember.

3.8 Suspension

The fully independent suspension is based on the 2WD Magna, viz:

Front: Independent MacPherson strut with lower A-arm and anti-sway bar.

Rear: Independent multi-link, coil springs, telescopic shock absorbers and rear anti-sway bar. Spring rates and damping have been uniquely calibrated for AWD models.

3.9 Fuel Economy

Fuel economy, in accordance with AS2877 is:-

Magna AWD 5 a/t
Highway 8.0 litres/100 kms Urban 12.0 litre/100 kms

Magna Sports AWD 5 a/t
Highway 8.0 litres/100 kms Urban 12.0 litres/100 kms

Verada AWD 5 a/t
Highway 8.0 litres/100 kms Urban 12.0 litres/100 kms

4. AWD Product Features

4.1 Interior

Interior unique features compared with 2WD counterparts :

- Magna AWD
Power windows,
Front door courtesy lamps,
Passenger air bag,
Chrome A/T shift surround,
Leather wrapped steering wheel,
Leather covered gearshift knob,
AWD badging on instrument cluster and chrome shift surround,
Shift interlock.

- Sport AWD
AWD badging on instrument cluster and chrome shift surround, Shift interlock,
White faced sports instrumentation.

- Verada AWD
AWD badging on instrument cluster and chrome shift surround,
Shift interlock

4.2 Exterior

The AWD variants are distinguished by badging on the front fenders (replacing the 3.5 badge) and rear deck lid.

Additionally, the Magna and Sport AWD have distinctive colour alloy wheels, while the Verada AWD has shadow chromed alloys, giving all models a unique appearance.

The Magna AWD has the same badges as above, as well as colour-keyed exterior mirrors and side splash protectors, unique 12-spoke alloy wheels, and dual multi parabola head lamps. This model has a substantially unique look about it.

4.3 Colours

The colour palette is:

Magna/Verada AWD ? Mawson White,
Cocoon White,
Pewter,
Kashmir,
Pacific Blue,
Sapphire Blue,
Daintree Green,
Sienna Red,
Burra,
Sable,
Flame Red.

NOTE: The interior trim is two-tone Dark Grey/Light Grey in Magna AWD and two-tone Black/Light Grey leather, or Black/Beige in the case of Verada AWD.

Sport AWD(Black/Grey interior trim) - Mawson White,
Pewter,
Pacific Blue,
Sapphire Blue,
Daintree Green,
Sienna Red,
Sable,
Flame Red.

4.4 Options

The options are:

Magna AWD

Sunroof $1850

Sport AWD

Sunroof $1850

Verada AWD

Nardi wood gear shift lever/
and Nardi wood steering wheel $475
Leather trim and sunroof $4,080

5. Sales Volume

With the introduction of AWD to the Magna/Verada range we expect to lift our share in all of the major market sub-segments, with the biggest lift expected in the Sports and Luxury end of the market, where the AWD feature is expected to have the greatest impact. The following AWD annual sales volumes are forecast:

Magna AWD (25%) 900

Sport AWD (40%) 1440

Verada AWD (35%) 1260

Total 3600

6. Pricing

Pricing has been set at:

Magna AWD, 5-speed A/T sedan $37,490
Sport AWD, 5-speed A/T sedan $43,290
Verada AWD, 5-speed A/T sedan $46,460

7. Conclusion

With the introduction of the new Magna/Verada AWD range, Mitsubishi is providing access to the benefits of AWD technology to buyers in the Large 6 market segment for the first time, and at an affordable price.

The new Magna/Verada AWD range will lead the Large 6 passenger car market for ride/drive, roadholding and traction.

These models raise the bar for driving enjoyment and safety in Australian manufactured sedans, and the comprehensive level of standard equipment and features will satisfy the most discerning buyer.

All in all the development of the AWD range provides a strong testament to Mitsubishi?s innovation and technology capabilities, and the introduction of the AWD range further re-enforces Mitsubishi?s strong commitment to producing performance products that exceed customer expectations.

8. Specifications

Engine

3.5 litre V6, 24-valve SOHC, with electronic multi-point fuel injection, electronic ignition, roller rockers and auto lash adjusters.

Maximum Power
Magna and Verada AWD - 154kW at 5000 rpm
Magna Sports AWD 159kW at 5500 rpm

Maximum Torque

Magna and Verada AWD - 310Nm at 4000 rpm
Magna Sports AWD 318Nm at 4000 rpm

Transmission
INVECS II ?Smart Logic? 5-speed automatic with ?Sports Mode? sequential gearshifting.

Ratios:

1st 3.789
2nd 2.057
3rd 1.421
4th 1.000
5th 0.731
Reverse 3.865
Final Drive 3.684

Suspension
Front ? Independent MacPherson strut with lower A-arm and anti-sway bar.

Rear ? Independent multi-link, coil springs,telescopic shock absorbers and anti-sway bar.

Uniquely calibrated spring and damper rates.

Brakes
Power assisted 4 wheel discs.

Front: 294 mm ventilated discs with two-pot calipers

Rear: 284 mm ventilated discs

Anti-lock brakes (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD).

Steering
Power assisted rack and pinion

Fuel Tank Capacity
70 litres

Wheels
6.00J X 16? cast alloy

Dimensions
Overall length Magna and Magna Sports 4808mm Verada 4939 mm
Overall width   1785mm 1785 mm
Overall height   1435mm 1435 mm
Wheelbase   2722 mm 2722 mm
Front track   1545 mm 1545 mm
Rear track   1535 mm 1535 mm
 
Kerb mass Magna 1604kgs Sports 1624kgs Verada 1643kgs

Turning circle

11.2 metres

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