The Nissan Magnite will be the newest entrant to the already packed sub-4m SUV segment in India. It made its pre-production debut in July and we first expected it to launch in early 2021. However, Nissan seems to have moved its plans forward a bit with the production-spec unveil last month and will be launching the Magnite on December 2.
Judging by the price leak, Nissan’s looking to hook you with the value for money quotient, where many of its rivals have moved into a higher price segment altogether. But the Magnite isn’t just about being easy on the pocket. It’s good looking, doesn’t seem to have many glaring feature omissions, gets a turbo petrol engine and a proper CVT automatic. We’ve got to experience the car and here’s what we learned:
The Magnite immediately comes across as a Nissan offering thanks to its resemblance to the Kicks. It is A well proportioned sub-compact SUV even though it’s not as wide or as tall as most of its rivals. With 205mm of ground clearance (unladen), 16-inch wheels as standard (alloys in XV/XV Premium only) and functional rails (50kg load capacity), the Magnite looks like a proper SUV.
Its sweptback headlamps and black contrast lower lip which houses the fog lights seem similar to that of the Nissan Kicks. It is admirable that Nissan hasn’t strayed too far from the concept car and the final product on the showroom floor is just as distinctive.
The LED lighting elements up front are possibly the most distinctive design element of the Magnite. Its premium looking top-spec LED headlights (single projector on each side for both low & high beam with multi-reflector pilot lights) are complemented nicely by the LED turn indicators just above them and the LED fog lamps. The sleek LED DRLs form long slits in the bumper, a bit like what we’ve seen on the XUV300.
Nissan’s sub-4m SUV looks sportiest in its side profile complemented by the two tone alloys and large roof spoiler. Nissan offers it in a total of 8 colour choices, including 4 dual-tone options.
The rear end of the Nissan Magnite has a thicker does of cladding than the front. You do get a rear wiper and washer as standard while the tailgate gets turbo and CVT badges to flaunt the variant you’re driving.
The Magnite’s cabin is well designed in terms of both style and functionality. The hexagonal AC vents do add a sporty touch to the dashboard and they get silver and chrome highlights from the base variant onwards.
The finish quality of the plastics is smooth but they don’t feel as robust as they do in a Sonet, Venue, XUV300 or even EcoSport. Even the fitment is of a budget grade with bits like the central console flexing/moving about when you fiddle with it. We’d say it’s an acceptable step up from something like the Vitara Brezza but it won’t make you go wow. Nissan did promise to rectify fit and finish niggles on the final products that will be arriving at showrooms soon.
FYI – Footwell could’ve been spaced better. The floor pedals feel like they’re too close together and those with larger feet or those who wear shoes with wide front ends in particular will have to adapt.
Nissan has done an excellent job to give the Magnite a spacious cabin overall. The front and rear seats offer good overall support, even for tall users, and headroom is generous even for users around or slightly over 6ft tall. It also gets adjustable headrests as standard. Despite being narrower than some rivals, it is one of the few small SUVs that can seat three abreast at the rear. However, it only gets a lap-belt for the middle occupant.
FYI – The driver gets a fixed front armrest in the top variant. Rear occupants get an armrest with cupholders (XL Turbo, XV & XV Premium) and a slot for your phone too.
The Magnite has space for you and your stuff. Its 10-litre glovebox is quite accommodating and each door pocket can hold a 1 litre bottle. The centre console can hold both cups and large bottles too.
The shelf-like styling for the central console below the climate controls is handy too. When the wireless charging pad is not in use, it can easily hold your wallet and phone both. There’s also a large storage space underneath with a 12V socket and USB port for any spare change or receipts.
The boot is reasonably voluminous with a capacity of 336 litres and you also get a 60:40 split rear seat (offered with the XL Turbo, XV & XV Premium) which raises the storage space to 690 litres. A drawback in the Magnite’s design is the high loading lip and there is a notable drop from the boot sill to the boot floor.
The Magnite’s feature list isn’t quite on par with its Korean rivals but it does offer just the right amount of frills.
The 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster with its game like interface has to be our favourite features of the Magnite. It’s really cool and fluid to use with a range of information like the time, trip meters, drive mode selected (CVT), fuel consumption, tyre pressure status and door/boot ajar warning. You can cycle through the various screens via the steering mounted controls.
Its 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment unit comes with wireless compatibility for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The system’s interface is very easy to use despite the occasional encounter with lag. Other feature highlights for the fully loaded Nissan Magnite are:
360 degree camera: A nice to have feature but the execution is poor. The resolution has room for improvement and the view seems distorted. The average quality is particularly apparent at night.
Push button start & smart key
Auto AC with rear AC vents
Wireless phone charger (optional extra with the Tech Pack)
Air purifier (optional extra with the Tech Pack, takes up space in a front cupholder like in the Venue)
Puddle lamps (optional extra with the Tech Pack)
LED scuff plates (optional extra with the Tech Pack)
JBL premium speakers (optional extra with the Tech Pack): Sound quality is decent but nothing great. Those who like their music loud will enjoy it but serious audiophiles can look at other options from the aftermarket.
Nissan Connect connected car tech: Offered with the XV Premium Turbo as an option. Includes vehicle tracking, speed alert, geofencing and vehicle health data
The Magnite will be a petrol-only offering and Nissan offers it with two options to choose from. For our brief drive, we experienced the turbo petrol in both manual and CVT guises.
1.0 litre, 3 cylinder naturally-aspirated
1.0 litre, 3 cylinder turbocharged
72PS @ 6250rpm
100PS @ 5000rpm
96Nm @ 3500rpm
160Nm @ 2800-3600rpm (MT) / 152Nm @ 2200-4400rpm (CVT)
5-speed manual / CVT
Claimed Fuel Efficiency
20kmpl (MT) / 17.7kmpl (CVT)
The Magnite Turbo is an easy going city car with enough grunt for commuting. The three-cylinder engine lets vibes creep into the cabin at startup and while idling, but gets noticeably smoother on the move. There is noticeable lag till around 1800rpm but it’s still usable for low speed driving too.
This 100PS/160Nm (152Nm with the CVT) engine is also punchy enough for easy overtakes at highway speed, as long as you’re in the right gear with the engine at around 2000rpm. We’d pick the CVT over the manual here since it is well tuned to the engine’s strengths and very responsive to throttle inputs.
You’ll only notice some of that rubber band effect when you floor the accelerator but it revs high for only a second or two before settling down again. We would have liked a manual mode on the CVT auto with predefined steps to swap through, primarily for better control while driving downhill. For inclines though, it does have an ‘L’ mode and a lever-mounted button for Sport mode.
The 5-speed manual is easy to use too but it’s not as polished. Shifting gears warrants some effort and the lever doesn’t slot as smoothly as we’d like. If you push the Magnite harder, the notchy behaviour is amplified and you get a lot of resistance while upshifting. Also, the slightly heavy clutch pedal can get annoying in bumper to bumper traffic.
Ride & Handling
Ride quality is one of the strong points for the Magnite. It keeps the occupants well insulated from surface imperfections and does a good job of dealing with potholes and bad roads. However, the suspension noise is quite audible over the sharper bumps and you’ll hear them more than you’d feel them.
Nissan has tuned the Magnite for daily usability and not for outright excitement. Something easily discernible from the car’s handling. You can chuck it into corners but there is noticeable body roll and the light steering offers no feedback, requiring some corrective steer to get it on the line you want. The suspension feels soft while attacking curves and corners. Braking is a slightly vague affair as well. The pedal offers enough bite but you don’t feel the pressure/resistance from the pedal change even as you press the pedal harder.
Overall, the Magnite is a car that can be driven fast but it’s not a particularly fun to drive car.
While dual front airbags, ABS with EBD and rear parking sensors are standardised, the Magnite gets ISOFIX child seat anchors from XL Turbo variant onwards. The XV trim adds a rear camera while the XV Premium gets the tyre pressure monitor and segment-first 360-degree camera. All turbo variants also come equipped with traction control, stability control, brake assist and hill start assist. Nissan has opted not to offer side or curtain airbags for any variant of the Magnite.
The Nissan Magnite is expected to be priced between Rs 5.50 lakh and Rs 9.55 lakh (ex-showroom) which makes it a very tempting proposition and also distinguishes it from its many rivals. This package, however, is not without compromise. The turbo-petrol engine is punchy but in a car whose driving dynamics aren’t particularly exciting. Its rivals from better established brands also have an upper hand in terms of the sales and service network as Nissan’s is going into revival mode.
Simply put, if you want the most premium and sophisticated pick from the segment, the Magnite probably isn’t for you. But if you want an SUV that’s spacious, practical, well loaded and comfortable to drive, all delivered at a price tag that’s serious value for money, the Magnite is certainly worth considering. It will launch on December 2 and unofficial bookings are already open.
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