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LPG Magna v ULP V8 Statesman over more than 700km of highway running shows LPG is inefficient

July 10, 2007
LPG Magna v ULP V8 Statesman over more than 700km of highway running shows LPG is inefficient

Sure it is cheaper to buy at the pump but LPG burns far quicker than ULP. We know that after our workhorse Magna V6 on LPG tackled a luxury Big Gun Statesman Chev based 5.7 litre V8 on a 700km highway cruise run. We chose the same long highway tour on the same day to even out as far as possible variations produced by road and weather.

Overall the LPG vehicle covered 837km at an average speed just above 90kmh.The Statesman covered 773km at an average 87kmh. Cruising between 2100 and 2500rpm the 1508kg LPG Magna used 48pc more fuel when compared with the bigger, 227kg heavier Statesman but saved 50per cent on fuel costs. Its average fuel cost per kilometre was 7.5c.

With LPG prices around 46.9c a litre in Australiait used 126.5litres of LPG at a cost of $63. LPG prices varied with the highest 69.9c with top-up fills of 42, 37 and 39 litres. We added another 8.5 litres at the end of the run to fill the tank and get final figures. In New Zealand LPG prices have moved up steadily and now sit around 90c a litre. ULP is about $1.56 a litres. On the numbersconversion to LPG is not now seen as a cost benefit by many New Zealanders.

We aim to refill on LPGat or just under half tank level as the bottom quarter of the fuel read-out is inaccurate and the Magna is a pain to restart if the LPG runs out.

The big Statesman V8 is a relaxed, powerful motor in a heavy 1735kg luxury cruiser. Over 773km is used 85.3 litres of ULP. With ULP around $1.30 a litre fuel cost $110. It cost 14.2c to cover a kilometre with the Statesman.

So thanks to the the LPG prices the LPG vehicle made a $47 save on fuel cost for the run. But efficient it is not. The V6 LPG Magna returned an average 15.1 litre per 100km covered.

The V8 Statesman returned an average 10 litres per 100km. Both vehicles were kept up to the speed limits where safe, which was most of the run, and no attempt at economy driving was made. Cruise control was used. Again when safe.

Our practical LPG fuel test vehicle was an ES/TL Magna wagon(dual-fuel) built in 2003 and registered in August 2004. It has 45,352 km on the clock and leads a hard stop-start daily life.

We like Magnas and the LPG dual-fuel Magna LS/TL wagon replaced our effective ULP TJ Advance Magna wagon. It is the fourth Magna we have used for daily work including limited towing.

It was not spared on the test run. We drove it to the legal limits all the way for the whole trip. Cruise control was used a lot but switched off before recurring rainstorms hit. We are aware of the danger of aquaplanning under cruise control in wet conditions. Testing rainstorms, heavy winds and a pitch black stormy night underline the easy going cruising ability and handling of the value priced cooking variety, often under-rated breed.

The ES/LS Magna/Verada models built in 2003 were powered by a 3.5-litre V6 engine with four valves per cylinder and one camshaft per bank. The Magna ES and LS, and Veradai Ei and Xi produced 155kW/316Nm. The 316Nm of torque is high in the range at about 4000rpm.

This is typical of front-wheel drives of this town/and country/touring type and can also be found for example in Toyotas Camry range. The Magna can be used (with care) to tow but it is soft in the rear end and quality Weight Distribution towing gear makes a significant difference.

Front wheel drives in general do not do well towing in slippery situations. With the Magna a wet, grassed campsite will require the WDH on, 150kg on the drawbar, best quality tyres, thoughtful use of the throttle. In a bad slippery spot a left-right veered steering technique can be used to get grip and the show on the move. But overall it is best to avoid slippery situation in the first place.

So if you tow with front-wheel- drive pick you camp site with traction in mind. First class trailer braking is alsoessential for safety in any Magna towing situation but with the front-wheel-drive Magna and vehicles like it a quality system is a must have, particularly in steep downhill or windy work in the wet.

An LPG only fuel system was an $800 option on Magna ES and LS, the engine produces 143kW at 5000rpm and 296Nm at 4000rpm. The LPG tank in the monofuel LPG Magna version is located forward of the rear crumple zone, in line with the rear axle and between the suspension towers, for crash protection.

Smooth Statesman V8
Smooth Statesman V8

But the LS Magna wagon we use is dual-fuel and gave great trouble with its LPG system cutting out until we took its servicing off our long-standing Mitsubishi dealer and went to an LPG specialist.

Once in the hands of a qualified auto-engineer who understands LPG, related electric and LPG system problems were solved after months of frustating LPG fuel flow failures as we tried to work with the Mitsubishi designated LPG provider.

The vehicle is now tuned specifically for LPG. It is dual-fuel vehicle but on ULP we have sacrificed a smooth idle to get top performance on gas. On LPG we use more gas to cover 100km than the Magna petrol variants, but the significantly lower cost of LPG makes it a cheaper alternative in the long run as our practical evaluation shows.

Three transmission choices were available across the 2003-04 Magna range, starting with a five-speed manual on all Magnas. A four-speed automatic was optional on Magna ES and LS.

Our LS has the triptronic gearbox option fitted. We find this useful when towing (Mitsubishi recommends 1500kg max trailer mass with braked trailer and 150kg max download on the drawbar). We make a point of coming in well under the recommended trailer weight when we tow. A five speed automatic with tiptronic gearchanging was optional on the sportier VR and VR-X models, and standard on all Veradas. All three AWD models featured the five-speed tiptronic automatic as standard.

The all-independent suspension was modified slightly with a rear stabiliser bar on all models this improved handling. Changes to spring rates and shock absorbers increased the Magna's sporting prowess with no loss of ride quality, with the AWD variants featuring unique tuning.

The most noticeable change to the TL/KL series was in the steering. Road feel improved with real feedback when cornering in rough going.

Wheel and tyre size were 15in on the Magna ES and LS. This is too low for towing when entry and exit angles become steeper than average and the wagons tail will drag on steep drives, kerbs and culverts. Wheels were 16in on Magna VR and Verada Ei and Xi, and 17in on Magna VR-X and GTVi. All three AWD models ran on 16in alloy wheels.

While the Magna LS lacks rorty passion and it is certainly not a poser vehicle both the Magna and the Verada make getting from A to B easy. The ride is smooth and quiet. When touring it keep its tail firmly in line and the powerful, responsive engine is a great cruiser. The brakes have buckets of bite and the gearbox is diamond bright.

The LS Magna is the fourth in a series of Magnas we have used as company mounts since 1995. Our LS is powered by a 24 valve V6. There was no manual option at this level but the autobox has a triptronic do-it-yourself gear change available too. This is four speeds not the five of the sports versions. It is a useful ratio combination with towing ability in the gearing. But we think Mitsubishi designed it as a town cargeared to handle city driving.

It is much more refined than an equivalent VY Commodore and holds its own with a BA Falcon motor accept in the matter of total torque and towing traction. We find Mitsubishi's Magna range an underated achiever among Australia's large cars with a brilliant balance in its poise, handling and ride. As a tow vehicle it is a compromise.

Maximum output for Magna ES, LS, and Verada Ei and Xi on ULP is:

Maximum power of 155kW at 5250rpm,

Maximum torque of 316 Nm at 4000rpm.

Maximum output for the monofuel LPG Magna ES or LS is:

Maximum power of 143kW at 5000rpm

Maximum torque of 296Nm at 4000rpm. This is a significant 20Nm torque drop compared with ULP versions.

The automatic transmission is an INVECS II 'Smart Logic' with 'Sports Mode' sequential shifting.
It is four-speed for Magna ES and LS.

The Magna is  backed up for heavy work by our Retro Turbo Toyota diesel
The Magna is backed up for heavy work by our Retro Turbo Toyota diesel

Our Big Gun luxury practical fuel cost ULP test vehicle was a July 2001 registered WH Statesman. It has luxury Holden By Design options and only 84,000 kms on the clock. It is a 5.7 litre V8 Auto. Cruise control was used where highway and weather conditions allowed.

An hour was spent in a traffic jam - the rest was highway cruising. The V8 strolled along at about 1800 revs. We know from experience the Statesman will double its normal fuel consumption when towing.

Holdens 1999-2001 passenger flagships, the WH Statesman and Caprice, left little to add in passenger space and comfort. It was noted at its launch that the V8 Statesman was the car everybody wanted to know about, with its new Chevrolet-derived Generation III engine.

Standard were self-levelling rear suspension, traction control, seat belt pre-tensioners with webbing clamps for the front seats, dual front and front side airbags, programmable personal settings, trip computer, climate control, steering wheel-mounted controls, CD stacker, immobiliser with alarm, remote deadlocking system, boot release disable function and improved lighting functions.

Also standard were alloy wheels, split/fold rear seat, rear map lights, rear centre lap sash belt, height-adjustable front belt anchors, power seats, cruise control, anti-lock brakes and front fog lights.

Options included leather trim ($1860) and limited slip differential ($523). The V8 was mated to a smooth auto gearbox and the V8's economy is regarded as better than the V6 version it replaced with an average in testing of 14.3 litres/100km. The big car needed a big engine and it got it in the 5.7 litre V8.

The WH Statesman numbers in 1999 were-

ENGINE 5.7-litre alloy V8.

MAX. POWER 220 kW @ 5000 rpm.

MAX.TORQUE 446 Nm @ 4400 rpm.

TRANSMISSION Four-speed auto.


LENGTH 5237 mm.

WIDTH 1847 mm.

HEIGHT 1459 mm.

WHEELBASE 2939 mm.

TRACK(FRONT/REAR) 1559 mm/1577 mm.



WHEELS/TYRES 225/55 R16.


FUEL ECONOMY 14.3 litres/100km.

FUEL CAPACITY 75 litres.


Statesman V8
Statesman V8
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