Choose carefully. Maintain well. Enjoy
A coolant hose let go and cracked the head just three days after purchase. Grrr... :(
Electronic idle controller not working.
Alternator died at 265,000km. Replacement cost me all of 1 hour of my time and $150.
Synchromesh on 3rd gear on its way out.
Air conditioner could be colder. Probably just needs new gas.
Rust in all doors, driver's door worst affected.
Tape deck broken (original equipment tape decks usually have a life span of about 3 years, so not surprised really...)
Driver's seat saggy around the lower back area.
The short version:
Buy one of these with manual transmission, air-conditioning, ECI fuel injection, no structural rust and no oil burning, heed my warning below and enjoy!
The long version:
Warning - If you buy one of these, do the following as soon as you have made your purchase:
- change the engine oil and oil filter
- flush the cooling system
- change ALL cooling system hoses.
Managed to double the price of this car overnight thanks to a stuffed hose. However, at AUD$2,600 ($1,400 for the car, $1,200 for a new head and all the fun bits attached) it's still pretty damn good value for money!
Power, torque and refinement of ECI (Electronically Controlled (Fuel) Injection) models. Smooth as silk and pulls like a train from almost any gear. Considering the price difference between carburettor and ECI models, why would you bother with a carb in the first place?
Ride and handling. Possibly the best ride quality of any vehicle I have ever owned - including my Saab! The rich, characterful tapestry of poorly maintained bitumen that makes up much Australia's urban road system is something that bothers other drivers. On billard table road surfaces, the ride is superlative. The fact that this car handles as well is a nice bonus. Torque steer not as pronounced as you'd expect for a large FWD with over 200Nm of the stuff that makes tree trunks tremble.
Manual transmission and clutch are both quite pleasant to use, other than the synchromesh problem on 3rd gear. It's called 'character'.
Good fuel economy when you let the car's prodigious torque do all the work. Gets a bit thirsty under revs, though.
Pretty comfy, seats 5 Australian-sized adults in relative comfort. GLX trim is basic, but copes with harsh conditions very well. Find an SE Manual (complete with fuzzy velour and extra, buttons to play with) for something less austere.
Despite the inevitable frustrations of a front wheel drive layout, Magnas are quite easy to work on for small to medium-sized jobs.
Benchmark design let down by stupid little oversights, viz: The boot doesn't seal very well. The plastic embellishment between the tail lights, whilst very attractive, has a bad habit of falling off - Gaffa tape is your friend here. The doors are designed in such a way that water traps at the bottom easily and rust sets in and parties on down. Worth spending a weekend or two removing the rust, treating with deoderised fish oil, filling and repainting.
The electronic idle controller no longer functions. All this does is make the car a bit harder to start in the morning. No major drama.
Alternator died (Bosch). Alternators, starter motors, ignition coils etc often retire once a car hits its teens - no matter what brand - because most car makers use components made by Bosch anyway!
The ear-bashing you'll recieve from friends and relatives about how (a) unreliable, (b) uncool or (c) gutless these cars are.
Things that happen to Other Magnas, such as:
Automatics that commit suicide at the drop of a hat.
Timing chains have a habit of going pear-shaped.
Oil burning is common if pro-active maintenance is neglected.
Heads can crack at the slightest provocation (OK, so I walked into that one).
Earlier TM series has a bad habit of developing severe structural rust.
Carb models come with added recalcitrance at no extra charge.
Should you wish to pick my brains about this car, or any other car I have had prolonged exposure to, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org - cheers!
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 9th February, 2002