Why would I buy it?
- Modern design
- Superb turbo engine and CVT gearbox
- Spacious for its size
Why would I avoid it?
- Slow and heavy steering
- Crashy high speed ride
The Nissan Magnite finally comes across as a product with superb potential from Nissan. It looks great, has plenty of features and has a superb turbo engine and an equally well-tuned CVT gearbox. The Nissan Magnite makes a lot of sense for those wanting their first SUV or for those looking to upgrade from hatchbacks. Now, all we hope is Nissan sorting out its dealerships.
Engine and Performance
Under the skin, the Magnite is built on the Renault-Nissan CMF-A platform and the upcoming Renault compact SUV will share it too. While the platform has been used before, the Magnite debuts with Nissan’s 1.0-litre HRA0 turbo petrol, three-cylinder engine. Apart from the turbo unit you also get a naturally-aspirated 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol that you also see in the Renault Triber. What we are driving here is the 1.0-litre turbo with the CVT gearbox. Power output stands at 98bhp and 152Nm of torque. Now compared to this the Vitara Brezza gets naturally-aspirated 1.5-litre petrol with 103bhp and 138Nm of torque and a four-speed torque converter gearbox.
Right off the bat, the Magnite feels peppy. The engine feels refined and what impresses the most is the Xtronic CVT gearbox. Nissan has managed to tune it extremely well to reduce shift shock and the rubber band effect that CVT gearboxes are known for. In fact, it is so good that if you modulate the throttle well, it is hard to notice that this is a CVT gearbox. Acceleration is peppy and there’s plenty of torque at hand which makes overtaking and munching highways a relaxed procedure. Nissan has also worked hard on the NVH levels and it shows. Under normal driving conditions, the cabin feels quiet and the overall experience is a refined one.
Now compared to the Vitara Brezza, the Magnite has more torque, 14Nm more to be specific but the Brezza has slightly more power, 5 more bhp to be specific. But what tilts the favour towards the Magnite further is that the Nissan is almost 100kgs lighter than the Maruti, and that's what gives it that effortless performance during daily driving. Lastly, Nissan also claims a fuel efficiency figure of 17.7kmpl which is slightly less as compared to the Brezza AT which is rated at 18.76kmpl. Overall Nissan has managed a fantastic job with the new engine and the CVT transmission and we are very impressed with it.
Ride and Handling
Now talking about the ride and handling, it’s clear that the Magnite's suspension is tuned for the urban environment. As a result of its set-up being on the softer side, the low-speed ride is excellent. Minor undulations and irregularities are absorbed very well and even the side to side rocking motion is controlled. But as you go faster and the ruts get deeper, the Magnite's suspension starts getting noisy and crashy. The thuds filter into the cabin giving you no option but to slow down unless one has low levels of mechanical sympathy.
The steering too is on the heavier side and is slow to respond to inputs. There isn’t too much feel either and the heaviness means it does not return to its original straight position quick enough and one has to make an effort to bring it back. But once you get past the heaviness, the Magnite feels fine. Highway stability is very good and the car feels composed even at triple-digit speeds which means the long-distance trips should be handled comfortably. Overall, the steering and the high-speed ride might not be the best, but it’s something that can be lived with easily.
Interior Space and Quality
Nissan has chosen a black and grey dual-tone combination along with some silver inserts. So you get these hexagonal air-con vents at the top below which you have a clean uncluttered dash. You get the touch screen infotainment system in the centre with the air-con controls below. There is a decent amount of storage too and the Magnite can hold plenty of knick-knacks in the centre area and door pockets. Talking about the touch and feel of the materials, the dashboard gets textured plastics but no soft-touch materials while the contact surfaces on the doors have been trimmed out in a grey coloured soft fabric. Also, the steering wheel, gear lever and handbrake in this top-spec model get a leather cover. Plastic quality in certain areas like the centre console could have been better and also it's inconsistent in a few places but it’s nothing glaring.
Now talking about front seats, you get this nice textured feel on it and the seat itself is pretty comfortable even for larger frames. The driving position is high and the view is nice and clear and will be beneficial for new drivers too. Now let’s check out the rear seats. The rear seats are again quite comfortable. You have good knee room and under-thigh support even for a tall person and long journeys should be a comfortable affair. You even get air-con vents at the rear so the hot summers are taken care of. While two people can relax here, three will be a cosy affair too.
Now talking about the boot space, at 336 litres it is more than the Maruti Suzuki Brezza. A 60:40 split for the rear seats means additional room for luggage can be made easily. Overall, the Magnite feels almost just as spacious as the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza but gets funkier interiors and better boot space.
Features and Equipment
Now let’s take a look at the other cool bits in the Magnite starting with the instrumentation console. Now, this is a fully digital seven-inch TFT screen which Nissan calls, the advanced drive-assist display and if one avoids the car around it, it looks just like the screen of a handheld gaming console. There’s plenty of graphics, vivid colours and animations happening which some would love and others wouldn’t. The vivid display apart, the console also gives out an exhaustive amount of information like TPMS, two trip meters, real-time and average fuel efficiency, hours-driven and more.
If you need to be competitive in this segment, you need an exhaustive feature list to stand out. The top-spec model gets climate control, touchscreen infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, steering mounted audio controls, cruise control and height adjustment for the driver’s seat. Also, the infotainment system is connected to high-end JBL speakers for a better aural experience. Nissan has also filtered down a few features from the more expensive Kicks SUV like the 360-degree camera set up that can be activated with a dedicated button and this makes parking even in tight spots an easy affair. Apart from that you also get wireless charging and a tech pack which comprises an air purifier, puddle lamps and ambient lighting.
The Nissan Magnite has a big job on its hands. Its primary goal will be to get Nissan the numbers that have eluded the Japanese manufacturer for a long time and while at it, it will also have to take on some much-established competition, primarily the Maruti Suzuki Brezza. As for the design, it plays a very important role in how well a new car is received and we think Nissan has done a good job with the Magnite. Overall, we think the Magnite is a good looking SUV and Nissan got it right with the design but bear in mind, it does look more compact as compared to its rivals.
First impressions of the Nissan Magnite are extremely impressive. We like the way it looks, it’s loaded with features, has enough space and has a superb engine and gearbox combo in the form of the new turbo engine and the XTronic CVT gearbox. Yes, we would have liked a more sorted suspension setup and better steering, but that’s something that will be shadowed by the Magnite’s price. Once launched on 2 December we expect prices to start from 5.5 lakh for the non-turbo variants. While this top-spec Turbo CVT variant is expected to be priced at around 9.5 lakh, which will make it phenomenal value for money. We just hope Nissan sorts out its dealership and service network because the Magnite is a product with a lot of potential.