Despite several delays, the Nissan Magnite still comes at the right time, when interest in the subcompact SUV segment is sky high. Two big reasons for that - the move to personal mobility in the post-Covid scenario (and SUVs remaining the preferred body type for most buyers). And then there is the recent arrival of the Kia Sonet and Vitara Brezza based Toyota Urban Cruiser. Let's also not forget the facelift on the Tata Nexon. So as I said the Magnite is delayed, and how. It began its life as the Datsun Go-Cross concept in 2016, and eventually never made it to production under that badge. Why that happened is a whole other story. Let's stay on the Magnite shall we? My test cars today are identical in trim, colour, and engine terms - but one is a manual and the other the CVT.
The Nissan Magnite is a good-looking car, and its sharp styling will turn heads. That said its above-mentioned Datsun connect shines through. Given it was destined to be a Datsun, the grille and daytime running light (DRL) design should not surprise. But there has been plenty of time for Nissan to go back to the drawing board and modify that. Even the decision to stop more new models under the Datsun brand was taken in 2019. It's more than a year later and yet no signature Nissan grille on the Magnite is rather odd. Yet I have to say this grille is sexier than what other Nissan SUVs have so I am not complaining too much. The new global Nissan logo makes its first appearance in India on the Magnite. The DRLs run deep into the bumper like on the Datsun redi-Go, but it's a nice modern face.
Nice sculpting in the hood and along the flanks adds some muscle. That runs in to the rear courtesy very pronounced protruding fenders and taillights that jut out. I like it because it is so distinct. The tailgate is also well contoured, looks a touch Renault like and has a nice name badge running across most of its width. The chrome beltline is nicely finished but I wish the chrome door handles were in fact simply body coloured. The two-tone white roof on my test cars only pairs with the 'Vivid Blue' paint shade. You can't get a solid blue, and there are three other two-tone options - brown, white and red - all paired with a black roof though. The monotone options include a different brown and a different white (go figure!), a silver and black. The 16-inch wheels are standard, and yes the top 2 variants get alloys. The car gets a 205 mm ground clearance. The roof rails can take up to 50 kgs on a separately available luggage rack.
Also Read: Nissan Magnite Variants Explained
Interior and Tech
There are four exterior cameras - one on each side, and then the front and back - to give you a 360-degree surround view like on the Kicks. On the inside the Nissan Magnite's cabin is very minimalist. And while that may seem basic to some, it also gives a sense of airiness and space. The dash and central console are titled towards the driver by 5 degrees. The steering is height adjustable, but not for reach - a negative for me.
The hexagonal AC vents and the 8-inch touchscreen will catch your eye straight away. Both nicely done I must add, and I will come to that screen in a bit. The climate control system has round control knobs with inbuilt display screen - again nicely finished. And overall the cabin - though spartan - looks quite well finished. The plastic quality is also pretty decent but there is a lot of it. Lots of controls on the steering wheel too.
That touchscreen has the usual infotainment and connectivity options. But what is great is you can pair your smartphone to it wirelessly using Bluetooth. And yes that includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay too! That is pretty cool, and a feature I have so far only seen on BMW models in India. Pay for the optional extra 'tech pack' and you also get a wireless charger pad for the phone - making the wireless experience even better. That pack also gets you an air purifier, ambient lighting, puddle lamps on the front doors and better speakers. There is a USB point there in case you do want to use a cable. Strangely though, the central armrest does not open up, and so while there's no stowage space under, there is plenty of storage in the car otherwise, including the doors.
The seats are not very comfortable as they feel a little light and not padded enough. That's a bit of a cost saving that seems to have come through! On the top-end you get fabric inserts on the door, which are nicely done. I also like the unique position of the start stop button. On the whole the dash and layout of the cabin is distinct and you will like it for how different it is to the rivals. The digital instrument cluster has bright solid colours and large designs.
The big central screen shows you plenty of info like mileage and importantly even the TPMS (Tyre Pressure Monitoring System). Voice recognition, cruise control, that segment-first 360 surround-view - give the Magnite a decent amount tech. The top variant on the Turbo gets Nissan connect - a sim-based telematics and connectivity suite powered by a Vodafone or Vi sim. But this is an optional extra and not standard even there. It also offers smartwatch connectivity.
Like the front seats, the rear seat bench also has a flimsy feel to it. So it is not well bolstered and ample. I wish it was, because that would have added a sense of plushness that is currently lacking in this cabin. But it is a great seat back angle, and despite lacking enough under-thigh support, the seat's overall comfort is pretty good. There is a terrific sense of space and that's owing to there actually being a lot it. It is accentuated by the quarter glass element near the C-pillar. The Magnite has excellent legroom, good headroom, and while the width is not great, for this segment it does just fine.
Rear AC vents are mounted a bit high, which is nice because I didn't have a struggle to reach them; and you also get a direct blast of air, which on very hot day can be a boon for those stuffed into the rear! There's a 12V charging point, but no USB at the back. The drop down rear armrest has cupholders and a niche to place you smartphone - a nice touch. The seats have a 60:40 split. And the car's bootspace is a decent 336 litres.
Like most cars the Nissan Magnite also gets a lap belt for the rear middle passenger. Pass on the cost I say - but give us 3-point seatbelts for all passengers! Sigh! Isofix child seat anchors are available in top-end versions, and that's good!! Dual airbags are standard across the range, so no six-airbag version then! ABS or antilock brakes with EBD is also standard. Hill Start Assist, Traction Control and Dynamic Control are on the Turbo variants only.
Before you ask, the base XE variant gets a 3.5-inch LCD cluster, all power windows and a 2-tone cabin. The XL variant adds on 6 speakers, audio controls on the steering wheel, climate control and electric mirrors. The XV and XV premium then add the rest of the goodies.
The Magnite has two engine options. The naturally aspirated petrol is a 999 cc unit that makes 71 bhp and puts out 96 Nm of peak torque. Here you get just a 5-Speed manual gearbox and claimed mileage is a generous 18.75 kmpl. The second engine is the Turbo option - and that's in both my test cars today. I began with the manual.
|Specifications||Nissan Magnite B4D 1.0|
|Max Output||71 bhp @ 6,250 rpm|
|Peak Torque||96 Nm @ 3,500 rpm|
|Claimed Mileage||18.75 kmpl|
|Specifications||Nissan Magnite 1.0 Turbo|
|Max Output||99 bhp @ 5000 rpm|
|Peak Torque||160 Nm @ 2800-3600 rpm (MT)/152 Nm @ 2240-4400 rpm (CVT)|
|Claimed Mileage||20 kmpl (MT), 17.8 kmpl (CVT)|
The Magnite feels light and zippy - and that can go both ways! Yes in an urban context that's good for most buyers, but it also makes the car feel small. Not physically, but in its drive character and manner. In fact the Magnite feels tiny and a bit too light. That makes me wonder how this car would do on its crash test results - I am not drawing any conclusions here at all, because I don't have any such test results with me. So I will wait for that result, because after all don't forget that this segment boasts two 5-Star and one 4-Star car. Nissan (Datsun) has been a little bit of a tangle with Global NCAP, when it comes to crash capability of all its Indian made products anyway, so a good score on this car would actually be great.
The car's NVH or noise vibration and harshness levels can be a lot better. In fact the seat and doors shake when the car is idling. The steering is agile, but very light. The car gets an excellent 5 metre-turning radius. Luckily the Magnite delivers on being Japanese and being a Nissan, where it counts! Hugely refined turbo engine, that is really well mated to the manual transmission. The gearbox itself is smooth, and given the ample torque, you don't need to gear change a lot. The engine feels and sounds energetic - but the whine from the turbo seeps in easily. Sound damping isn't great - another obvious cost saving I would think.
The Turbo punches more power and it kicks in sooner too. The turbo is also good, and you will not feel a lag. The Magnite gets anti roll bars for better handling. Cornering is not great at higher speeds as the car feels light and slightly skittish. Decent ride quality, pretty good suspension for a car of this size, and it's the drivetrain that becomes the area where the Magnite scores. The Magnite gets an 'eco function' that spells out your driving habits - so you can drive more frugally if you want to.
Now let's check out the CVT. Given the purpose this car has been built for - primarily city driving - you're going to find the CVT to be a better option from the convenience point of view. But if you ask me which is more fun - the obvious answer is - the manual! But as CVTs go I have to say Nissan's X-Tronic is really nice. It's refined, it's responsive and even though like most CVTs, it gives you the impression that the engine is revving too much for nothing, it accelerates fairly quickly.
Also Read: Nissan Magnite Prices Leaked Online
So the Magnite is ready to roll. The launch is just a couple of weeks away, and if online leaks are to be believed, Nissan plans to go super-aggressive with the prices. The naturally aspirated petrol will likely begin below ₹ 6 lakh and top off under ₹ 7.75 lakh. The turbo will probably start at around ₹ 7 lakh and top off under ₹ 10 lakh for the top grade with CVT. If our guess is true then the Magnite will undercut every other rival - and how! That kind of awesome value will instantly make it a strong player in the subcompact game. But don't forget you have to pay extra for thinks like sim-base telematics or that tech-pack. Its alter ego - the Renault Kiger will also grace us soon, and so by 2021 the subcompact SUV segment will sport 9 players - making it one of the most crowded and competitive segments in the Indian car market.