The Mitsubishi Magna was a mid-size car offered between May 1985 and September 2005 by Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited (MMAL). Manufactured at the Tonsley Park assembly plant, Magna spanned three generations before being replaced by the Mitsubishi 380. Their 4-cylinder ("4G54/Astron II") and V6 ("6G72" and "6G74") engines were also manufactured by MMAL in South Australia, at the Lonsdale plant.
Prior to Magna, Mitsubishi did have a large family car to rival the Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore in the form of the 6-cylinder Chrysler Valiant, which was inherited upon MMAL's takeover of Chrysler Australia's operations in 1980. Nevertheless, the Valiant was put out of production the following year, making the Sigma MMAL's largest offering.
When Sigma's replacement became due, MMAL opined that a car's width was a crucial factor to Australian drivers who have traditionally favoured large cars. As a result, to compete more effectively against the large-sized Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore, former Chrysler engineers now working for MMAL, developed a wider mid-sized car specific for the Australian market. They accomplished this by splicing an extra 6.6 cm (2.6") right down the middle of Japan's mid-sized Mitsubishi Galant sedan, to create the unique Mitsubishi Magna range. Given the inherent space efficiency of front-wheel-drive (FWD) relative to rear-wheel-drive (RWD) platforms, this allowed MMAL to offer a passenger cabin that was as spacious, if not more spacious, than that of the market-dominant Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore.
Over the years, Magna grew in size and offered V6 power and All-Wheel-Drive (AWD), the latter to compete against its rivals' perception of better dynamics from RWD. The Magna was the first all-new Australian made Mitsubishi vehicle, replaced by the FWD Mitsubishi 380 sedan, which became the second and last of Australian made Mitsubishi car, upon MMAL's closure of its South Australian production facilities in 2008.
The 1985 TM Magna was initially available only as a sedan. An Australian developed station wagon was released in 1987 with the updated TN series, proving popular with company fleets.
While the general styling and side profile was similar to the Japanese market Mitsubishi Galant of the time, the Magna was several centimetres wider in order to accommodate Australian market requirements. The smaller footprint at no expense of interior space also meant that Magna could get away with a big-bore 4-cylinder engine, instead of the more traditional 6-cylinder engines of its rivals. Fuel efficiency, however, was not significantly better.
The Magna range was FWD and formed by: GLX (intended for company fleets), Executive, SE and Elite. In later years, the range expanded to include a sporty Elante and Grand Tourer (both featuring bodykits), as well as several limited editions.
Their engine was an Australian-made single overhead cam (SOHC) transversely mounted 2.6-Litre Astron II 4-cylinder 8-valve engine codenamed "4G54", which was derived from the "4G52/Astron" of the preceding RWD Mitsubishi Sigma. It produced 85 kW (114 hp) at 5000 rpm and 198 N·m (146 lb·ft) at 3000 rpm.
This new "Astron II" engine featured hydraulic mounts and counterbalancing shafts (technology adopted by, amongst others, Porsche, for their large 4-cylinder 924-944-968 models) to reduce vibrations, characteristic of large 4-cylinder engines. Initially, these Australian engines were carburetted, with Mitsubishi's "ECI Multi" electronic Fuel injection (EFI) version launched in April 1987.
Fuel consumption on average for all models was 11.0 L/100 km in city driving and 7.8 L/100 km in highway driving, as measured according to the applicable Australian Standard.
Magna was fitted with either a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic with overdrive (its button on the front of the shift lever, providing a 3-speed (by default) or 4-speed mode), with the TN Executive and luxury Elite available only in automatic. In terms of suspension, the car featured McPherson strut independent front design and at the rear a 3 link torsion beam axle with coil springs. The wagons ran a 4 link beam axle with coil springs.
The more luxury-oriented models - SE and Elite - featured higher equipments: seats were covered in velour trim with the driver's seat being multi-adjustable; rear passengers benefitted from integrated headrests; automatic transmission (standard on Elite), power windows, central locking, alloy wheels and metallic paint standard on Elite (two-tone paint) and optional on SE (one-tone paint); radio radio/cassette players were equipped with a roof mounted telescopic antenna and novel security system that would make the unit completely inoperable in the event that its power was disconnected, while Elite's system also featured a separate equalizer and controls buttons on its steering. In addition, instead of standard control steering stalks and air conditioning panel on their dashboards, SE and Elite had two steering side pods, thus bringing all major controls within a driver's fingertips, and making them jointly height adjustable with the steering column. Finally, Elite also featured an LCD instrument panel, thanks to the Japanese automotive trend in the late 1980s.
The first range TM Magna was marred by various quality-control problems (chiefly: fragile engine heads and automatic transmissions), which were eventually rectified throughout the life of this 1st-generation Magna. At launch, however, this car was voted Wheels magazine's 1985 Car of the Year.