12While the Indian market is currently overflowing with SUVs, the fact is that most of these sub-compact and compact SUVs come no where near to the capabilities of true SUVs with a 4x4 system. With a conventional front-wheel drive layout, most small SUVs have a jacked up ride height and rugged styling as the only elements that give them the SUV tag. That said, you can still do a fair bit of off-roading with these sub-compact and compact SUVs, nothing much serious or technical, but a rugged trail is very much doable in most of these SUVs.
But here we have something a little more serious than a mild off-road trail. Here in this video, the owner of this Nissan Magnite takes his car on the treacherous Kailash Mansarovar route in Uttarakhand, which is one of the most broken and difficult roads to drive on in the state of Uttarakhand. Most of route is just a trail of gravel and rocks, with streams and slush pits in between, worsened all the more by heavy rains the previous night. This is, in fact, a serious test for any SUV with a 4x4 system, let alone a front-wheel drive sub-compact SUV.
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This particular Nissan Magnite is powered by the naturally aspirated 1.0L petrol engine that produces 72hp and 96Nm of peak torque. The transmission is a 5-speed manual unit and it seems to be in a mid-spec trim. The Magnite's 1.0L NA petrol engine is the most underpowered engine in its class, and it would be interesting to see how it fares in such conditions. At the beginning of the vlog, the owner says he wanted to drive to Ladakh in his Magnite, and the Kailash Mansarovar stretch was a test to see how the Magnite fared in rugged conditions. And it couldn't have been more challenging than this.
As you can see in the video, even with its base 1.0L NA engine, the Magnite does not struggle all that much when off-road conditions are mostly moderate. With a slow and steady pace, the Magnite owner progressed smoothly over the rocky and gravel trail, only disrupted by the slush pits in between. Still, with a little bit of planning, the Magnite was able to overcome all the slush pits even without a four-wheel drive system. It must be said that the car's capabilities depends a lot on the driver as well. For getting the front-wheel drive Magnite through those slush pits, it is the driver who has to be credited.
The Nissan Magnite has a ground clearance of 205mm, which was enough to get the SUV over most obstacles, although the car did bottom out over some bigger rocks. Where the Magnite seemed to struggle were on the really steep climbs. Sometimes wheel spinning, sometimes needing a push, it was eventually able to overcome them all. It had almost no problems on less steep climbs, primarily aided by the fact that it's pretty light weight and the engine did not have to haul a heavy weight. With the more powerful 100hp 1.0L turbo-petrol engine, this should be even smoother. The fact is, if you are a skilled driver, you can do a fair bit of off-roading even in a sub-compact SUV such as Nissan Magnite. That takes away nothing from the car, but only upholds its abilities.