India is one of the toughest automobile markets to crack in the world and the needs of Indian consumers is different from the rest of the world. One thing common across our country is that people like SUVs and high driving position, which is why new segments like compact SUV is thriving compared to a sedan or even hatchbacks. Most manufacturers need a compact SUV to survive in the market and Nissan finally decided to join the sub-four meter segment with there latest product Magnite. We already saw the Magnite for the first time last month and now we are driving the compact SUV in Chennai.
Nissan revealed the Magnite concept in July and it is one of the first product to come with the latest designs theme of the Japanese manufacturer. The production model was revealed last month and it looks almost similar to the concept but the designers had to tone down certain elements obviously for cost. The front is dominated by the huge grille with chrome surroundings and the centre has the new Nissan logo. The Magnite is the first model in the Nissan portfolio to come with this new grille. The grille is somewhat similar to the ones on Datsun models because the Magnite was initially planned to be under the Datsun brand but the company decided to stick to Nissan branding for better appealing.
The headlamps are sleeker and give a modern look for the Magnite. The lights are full-LED units with bright white light. The light throw is really good and you don’t need bright as dim is more than enough for our roads. The L-shape LED DRLs are placed on the bumper rather than integrated into the headlamp unit. Like the Kicks, the projector LED fog lamps are placed on the lower portion of the bumper with chrome surroundings. To give an SUV look, Nissan has given faux skid plates too. The hood is slightly raised in the middle with two character lines flowing towards the grille. Overall the front end gives a bold SUV look for the Magnite.
We realise that Magnite is a compact SUV, when we look it from the side as the wheelbase of Magnite is 2500 mm. In terms of dimensions, the only thing sticking out is that the Magnite is not the widest in its segment except everything is par among with competitors. Nissan has given black plastic cladding across the body for an SUV look. The Magnite branding above the wheel arches looks good along with black finish for the exterior mirrors. The wheels are 16-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels and all models come with 16-inch tyres as standard. The door handles are chrome finished along with chrome window line gives a premium feel. The roof rails are functional too as they can carry unto 50 kgs. To improve airiness inside the cabin, Nissan has given quarter glass too.
The rear design is unique and it looks different from other Nissan models even though we could see Qashqai inspiration here. The rear gets wrap around LED tail lamps with a slopping design for the rear and an integrated spoiler. Like the front, the faux skid plates make their re-appearance on the rear too. The boot space is more than enough even though it is not the biggest at 330 litres and the company offers 60:40 split seat option too. Nissan had also focused on the paint finish too as they claim that it takes 10 vehicles time to paint one Magnite. So overall, the exterior looks appealing and looks different from the competitors, which is a good start for the Magnite. Let’s see whether the interior has the same Jazz.
When you step inside the cabin, you will be slightly disappointed as it doesn’t have the same wow factor as the exterior because the layout is more towards function than form, which is good in my book. The overall layout is good and there are some interesting design points like Lamborghini Urus inspired design for the AC vents. Nissan used hard plastics for the dashboard and the carbon fibre inspired design is good too. The main highlight is the 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system. To be frank, we would have liked Nissan to offer the same system on Kicks as the touch screen response is not great maybe because these are pre-production units and it might improve.
The infotainment system is packed with lots of features as it is the first model in its segment to come with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There is an ECO data along with other information of the vehicle. The controls for climate control are placed below the screen and the temperature is displayed in it. The instrument cluster is a 7-inch fully digital TFT unit and even the entry-level models come with it. The design of the graphics is also good and we can customise it with different screens. Nissan offers a three-spoke steering wheel with integrated audio and instrument controls. We will explain about the steering feel later in the drive. One of the highlights of Magnite is the cubby hole as there are 6 bottle holders across the cabin. Nissan has packed the Magnite with lots of goodies like a 360-degree camera, wireless charging, puddle lamps, TPMS, leather-wrapped steering wheel, cruise control and more. Some of these features are available as various packages on the Magnite.
The space on the front is excellent as there is lots of room for both passengers and the seats offer good support but we could feel that the passengers are sitting lot closer than on some other compact SUVs because of the slightly lower width. Like the front, the rear also offers good comfort for the passengers with good knee and headroom. Again, the only thing lacking is shoulder room but four passengers and a child can comfortably travel in the Magnite.
Nissan offers two engine options with Magnite. A naturally aspirated 1.0 L petrol engine and a 1.0 L turbo petrol engine. The naturally aspirated 1.0 L petrol engine is the same unit, which is available on other Renault-Nissan models but the tuning of this engine is different on the Magnite. The 1.0 L turbo petrol engine is an all-new unit, which made its international debut last year and it is assembled in India. The 1.0 L naturally aspirated engine produces 71 hp and 96 Nm while the 1.0 L turbo petrol engine puts out 100 hp and 160 Nm. These engines are mated to 5-speed manual gearbox and the turbo petrol engine is also available with a CVT gearbox option.
Ride and Handling
We are driving the 1.0 L turbo petrol engine with both gearbox options. Let’s start with the manual, the engine is slightly vocal but that’s not a bad thing as the engine note is sporty. The initial response is really good as turbo lag is not much evident. A small tap on the accelerator pedal is more than enough to move forward with good momentum. The engine picks up good speed as you go up the gear, slotting the 5th gear and the Magnite can comfortably cruiser in triple-digit speeds without any problem all day and if you want to overtake someone on the highway on top, it’s pretty easy too as you don’t need to downshift. The engine doesn’t have any vibration and refinement is really good. One thing annoying is that there is a small vibration on the gear lever and it was present on the Kicks too, hopefully, they will rectify it.
Now its time for the automatic, the CVT gearbox is the third generation unit and it is the same one available on the International market. The response from this gearbox is different from Micra or Kicks as it doesn’t have the rubber band feel of conventional CVT. The gearbox goes well with the engine and there is not much lag while picking up the pace. To further improve performance, Nissan offers a sports mode too and this increases response as everything feel more energetic. The acceleration is even more fast and quick overtakes are much easier. 0-100 kph comes up around 11 sec and top speed is 174 kph.
Nissan tested the Magnite across 2,00,000 km, which helped the engineers to fine-tune the suspension for Indian conditions. Like most of the other Nissan models, the high-speed stability is really good as the Magnite offers good confidence for the driver. The Magnite doesn’t need to slow down much for bad roads as suspensions absorb everything. But when we take the corner enthusiastically, the Magnite reminds the driver that it is a compact SUV as there is a small amount of body roll. Overall, the Magnite is really good and the engine plus CVT or manual combination is excellent. We got around 17-18 kmpl mileage with the manual gearbox and 13-14 kmpl on the CVT.
So the all-important question is can Nissan make a comeback with the Magnite. The answer is Yes, they can as the compact SUV has all the right ingredients for a successful model. The exterior design is appealing while the interior is practical and the long list of features will make the customers happy. The 1.0 L turbo engine with gearbox combinations are excellent with good mileage. Nissan is yet to announce the price of Magnite but rumours suggest that it will be priced between Rs. 5 lakh and Rs 9.5 lakh (Ex-Showroom). If it turned out to be true then the Magnite will give sleepless nights for the competition.