Words by - Jatin Chibber
All-new Nissan Magnite - Introduction
The sub-4-meter SUV segment is the most competitive and fastest-growing segment in India. Almost every carmaker offers or is planning to launch a vehicle in this segment. One of the main reasons behind the popularity of this segment is the buyers mindset of owning an SUV at an aggressive price tag. Recently, we got a chance to experience the all-new Nissan Magnite, the company’s first-ever sub-4-meter-SUV and an affordable alternative to the Nissan Kicks. But is it capable enough to stand against its potent rivals? Let’s find out in this review.
All-new Nissan Magnite - Exterior
Nissan has worked hard to give Magnite a distinctive look. The all-new Nissan SUV looks stunning and is among the nicest-looking cars in its segment. The massive Datsun-like grille upfront commands a lot of attention, and features a few premium chrome accents as well. Illumination duties are done by sleek projector headlamps, L-shaped LED DRLs and fog lamps. One can see that the automaker has used a lot of chrome upfront in order to enhance its premium quotient. Signifying its importance, the Nissan Magnite is the company’s first-ever vehicle in India to feature their new re-designed logo.
The side profile of the SUV also looks striking as it features sleek electrically-adjustable wing mirrors with integrated side indicators, blacked-out A- and B-pillar, and chrome door handles. The shoulder line of the SUV also employs a long chrome strip to accentuate its length. To give the Nissan Magnite a rugged look, it gets chunky wheel arches along with black plastic scuff pads on the door. The rear end of Nissan Magnite also looks appealing as it gets wraparound LED tail lights, bold MAGNITE lettering, a sporty roof spoiler with integrated stop lamp and a faux silver-finished skid plate. The design of the all-new Nissan Magnite looks very modern and is capable of attracting people.
All-new Nissan Magnite - Interior
As soon as you sit inside the cabin of the all-new Nissan Magnite, your first thought would be that the interior of the SUV is pretty spacious. It does not feel as premium as its competitors but is decently well equipped. However, the plastic quality; along with the fit & finish inside could have been better. The centre console features a touchscreen infotainment unit with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, which is a segment-first feature. The car also comes loaded with features like a wireless charging pad, automatic A/C, steering mounted controls, a USB charging port and a 12V socket.
The aeroplane-like controls, on the other hand, for door lock/unlock and air conditioner on/off look unique. The coloured digital instrument console looks attractive and offers all the relevant information. This includes data like speed, average fuel economy, tyre pressure, temperature, time, and much more. The interface of the instrument cluster is as easy to understand as it is eye-catching.
While the features are more than adequate, the carmaker has made a few cost-cutting measures like offering fabric upholstery on the top-spec trim of the SUV. Coming to the second-row, the rear bench is very comfortable, offering ample legroom and headroom. The second-row is even big enough to accommodate 3-passengers at once because the transmission tunnel does not intrude much. In our opinion, the overall fit and finish of the Nissan Magnite’s cabin is not that good but it makes up for that fact with the level of equipment on offer.
All-new Nissan Magnite - Engine & Transmission
Mechanically, the all-new sub-4-meter-SUV is powered by two different engine options. The first one is a 1.0-litre NA petrol and the second is a 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol motor. The former develops 71bhp of power and 96Nm of peak torque, while the latter produces power and torque output of 99bhp and 152 (CVT)/160 (MT) Nm respectively. Transmission options include a 5-speed MT or a CVT. While we got plenty of seat time with both manual and CVT versions of the 1.0-litre turbo motor, we were not able to get our hands on the base 1.0-litre NA unit. However, we will definitely aim to bring you a first drive review of that soon.
The new 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine, on the other hand, offers an impressive level of refinement but is certainly not the best in the segment. You do get a certain amount of turbo lag upon acceleration but as soon as the tacho needle crosses 1800 rpm, the engine comes into its element and starts picking up speed rapidly. Safe to say, the new turbo-petrol mill is capable enough to make your daily commutes exciting. The top-end power feels a bit compromised and after 4,000 rpm, one can feel the vibrations coming through the pedals.
Initially, we drove the CVT variant of the SUV and honestly, we didn’t find it very exciting. While there is no denying the comfort it will offer to those looking to buy an automatic SUV for daily use, the transmission clouds the true potential of the engine. The ‘box feels lethargic and the rubber band effect is quite evident. However, it does have a saving grace in the form of a Sports mode. Shift the lever to S and this does make the turbo petrol CVT trim a bit more responsive but just not enough to tickle the fancy of any enthusiasts.
However, when paired to a manual transmission, the Nissan Magnite does manage to excite. Compared to the CVT variant, the manual variant felt a lot more alive and responsive. The gearbox does get a bit notchy when trying to shift quickly, but driving and shifting gears at city speeds is a lot smoother operation. Overall, the performance of Nissan Magnite turbo petrol is impressive but it certainly leaves room for improvement.
All-new Nissan Magnite - Ride & Handling
In terms of driving dynamics, the all-new Nissan Magnite offers a good balance between comfort and agility. The three-spoke steering wheel is decently weighted and easy to manoeuvre in city traffic. At the same time, the steering feel does not go lifeless as speeds progress. The overall suspension is tuned well, it offers a plush ride and effortlessly counters potholes and speed breakers. The body-roll is well controlled and gives even inexperienced drivers the confidence to hit corners at high speeds.
Anchoring duties are done by disc brakes upfront and drum brakes at the rear. In our opinion, the brakes of the Nissan Magnite are quite sharp but the SUV does manage to fish-tail ever so slightly under hard braking. While this can be easily controlled, it does get a bit risky. Overall, Nissan Magnite is comfortable, handles Indian road conditions well and will not disappoint when the road gets twisty.
All-new Nissan Magnite - Verdict
The price of the Nissan Magnite is yet to be revealed but is expected to be the most affordable car in its segment. Once launched, it’ll compete with the likes of the Kia Sonet, Hyundai Venue, Maruti Vitara Brezza, Tata Nexon, Ford EcoSport, Urban Cruiser and Mahindra XUV300. The SUV will be offered in four different trim levels, namely- XE, XL, XV, and XV (Premium). We only got the chance to drive the turbo-petrol trim and it impressed us with its mechanical capability and features on offer. However, we did find that it had room for improvement in certain areas. As a buyer, if you are on a constrained budget and are looking out for a compact SUV, then the Nissan Magnite can certainly be a good pick for you.