Nissan Magnite Sub-Compact SUV Detailed Road Test Review
Nissan Magnite Sub-Compact SUV Detailed Road Test Review
The Indian market is very competitive and dominated by two carmakers. While the two biggies dominate the stake, others are left with wafer-thin market shares. In the competitive market, there are some one-car brands like Volkswagen, Ford and Nissan is one of them. It was having a tough time in the Indian market but one car has turned the tables – the Magnite. The Magnite truly saved the Japanese marque from sinking and has been doing exceptionally well for the brand. The bookings have risen to 40,000 and the waiting period is hovering up to 8 months for some variants. With that being said, how well does the Magnite justify its price tag? We find that out and more in this in-depth review of the Nissan Magnite.
Nissan Magnite Looks:
The Nissan Magnite looks very refreshing and appealing at first glance. While there are some design elements taken from the Datsun family of cars – especially the front profile – the rest of the design is very attractive. The front profile of the car is dominated by the Datsun-esque grille which interestingly wears the new Nissan logo – first in India! Even the L-Shaped DRLs are carried over from the Redi-go. The grille is flanked with thick chrome borders and the lower part of the bumper also wears some chrome embellishments. The Magnite is also jewelled with all-LED lights at the front – even the fog lights are LEDs. The LED headlights sit on the top – unlike the case with every other new car these days.
Nissan has slapped prominent body cladding on the side of the Magnite and chrome treatment around the windows is distinctly visible. The wheel size is R16 as standard and the top-spec XV Premium comes with dual-tone alloy wheels. Onto the back and you will be genuinely impressed by the glance. The Magnite doesn’t feel like a chop-off from the back and has a very bold stance – credit goes to the inverted crease and large lettering. If I nitpick, Nissan could have provided a shark fin antenna and LED tail lights at the back. However, the casing for the taillights has been designed to mimic the LED feel. In a nutshell, the Magnite is beautifully designed and can be called one of the best-looking offerings in its segment, if not the best!
Nissan Magnite Interiors:
Nissan has engineered the Magnite keeping the costs in mind. Thankfully, that doesn’t seem obvious, at least at first glance. The layout of the interiors is sporty and unique. While the Hexagonal AC vents may remind you of the stunning Urus, the AC controls are reminiscent of that of the Jaguar F-type. The touchscreen and other controls are tilted towards the driver for that extra layer of sportiness. The interior theme and upholstery colour are all black, however, we would have liked some added touches – at least on the dashboard which otherwise looks rather plain. Interestingly, the lower trims of the Magnite get dual-tone interiors and we prefer the dual-tone look over the dingy all-black scheme.
Nissan and Renault cars have always been imperfect when it comes to ergonomics and placement of switches, but the Magnite negates that. All the controls fall in easy reach and the controls sit where they are supposed to. The steering mounted controls are easy to use and have a hint of tactility. You must be reminded that you are driving a Nissan after all right? Hence, Nissan has given aircraft-styled AC flow controls which we see in the mighty GT-R. Some cost-cutting measures have been done at the expense of electric day/night IRVM and flimsy plastic quality. We really appreciate that Nissan has given soft fabric padding on the door pads which adds to the comfort inside the cabin.
Nissan Magnite Rear Seat Space & Storage:
Nissan claims the segment-best rear legroom and passenger shoulder room and we second that. The Magnite is not the biggest car in its segment by any dimension but still, the space on offer is impressive. The seats are accommodating and adhere to the social-distancing rules we have started to follow. While the seats are quite soft, longer drives don’t feel very comforting and lower back support could’ve been better too.
The rear seats offer a generous amount of space and decent under-thigh support. What adds to the premium-touch is the rear-seat armrest which incorporates twin cup holders and a smartphone holder too. Talking about the storage spaces, the Magnite offers many. All the doors have space to accommodate a 1L bottle and some nick & nacks. The glovebox is pretty large but not cooled and the centre armrest doesn’t open. The Magnite also offers 336 litres of boot space and though it’s not the best in its segment, low loading lip and wide aperture makes it accessible and spacious. Save for that, Nissan has utilised the space well and the Magnite is one spacious car to have a jolly ride in.
Nissan Magnite Equipment & Features:
We are thoroughly impressed with the Magnite in this department. Nissan has loaded the Magnite to the brim when it comes to the features, including a bird’s eye view – a very premium feature. The bird’s eye view may sound gimmicky to some, but it is actually very usable and the resolution is also good. The 7.0-inch fully-digital instrument cluster is also part of the package and it does the job pretty well. The graphics of the instrument cluster are a bit fussy but it provides the info in a very unique manner. Talking about the 8.0-inch touchscreen, it works flawlessly and we also get to see wireless Android Auto and Apple Car Play – again a very welcoming addon. It also gets driving eco which gives you a score depending on your driving style along with other information like average fuel economy and tips to improve your score too.
Opting for the tech pack - which is only available with XV and XV Pre - gets you a fast wireless charger, ambient lighting, puddle lamps, JBL sound system, illuminated sill plates and an air purifier. However, I am not very happy with the rather hollow sound experience from the JBL speakers. The wireless charger offers 15w fast charging and can also accommodate XL-size phones. The puddle lamps are mounted on the edge of the doors and project “Welcome” on the road whenever you open the front two doors.
Nissan Magnite Ride & Handling:
Nissan and Renault cars have a good track record for offering a good ride and handling balance in India at least. However, Magnite seems to have chosen a different path. The ride quality of the Magnite is set on the stiffer side. The small bumps and rumble strips are felt inside the cabin, especially at slow speeds. However, just like every other car with stiff suspension, the Magnite glides over bumps once you get up the pace. You do move a bit at city speeds but on the contrary side, it stays planted on high-speed cruising despite having a lighter body weight.
That’s the case with the ride, now comes to the handling and it’s pretty good. In a word, the Magnite handles beautifully. You chuck it in a corner and it stays glued to its line. That’s more evident owing to the safety net Nissan has offered in terms of VSM and Traction control. The grip from the Ceat SecuraDrive tyres is stupendous and you don’t hear the protest from the rubber even if you intendedly want to.
However, as good as it handles, the same cannot be said about the steering, which is a bit vague. It tends to feel lousy when you put a sudden input, and the manoeuvrability at city speeds could have been better. However, the snug fit of the Magnite’s stubby wheel feels very good. There is some body roll around hairpin bends but that’s largely the case with all other sub-compact SUVs as well.
Nissan Magnite Engine, Gearbox & Performance:
The 1.0-litre HRA0 turbo-petrol engine does duty on the Magnite along with the 1.0-litre naturally-aspirated motor. The one I drove, and recommend is the 1.0-litre HRAO turbo petrol motor that comes with a Dual Overhead Camshaft (DOHC) construction and a Variable Geometry Turbocharger (VGT). The engine also carries the cylinder coating technology from the GT-R which reduces friction. It produces 100 PS of power @ 5000 RPM and 160 Nm of torque from 2800 to 3600 RPM. While the Magnite comes with both MT and CVT gearbox options, it was the manual that was my companion for the whole week.
The torque delivery comes a bit late and stays till 3600 RPM, but real world drivability is really good. The engine puts power effortlessly from the lower part of the rev range though there is only a small hint of turbo lag. The Magnite doesn’t offer the surge of power and it delivers the power in a rather creamy linear manner.
100 horses may sound meek on paper but the motor churns those horses wisely. There is satisfactory power from upward of 1800 RPM and it stays with you till the redline. The drivability is actually good as you can pick the car up in 3rd gear from as low as 20 km/h effortlessly. The gearing of the car is well suited for city conditions and the higher gears (read 3rd, 4th and 5th) are rather tall. Flat out, the 3rd gear tops out at 138 kmph! Some vibrations do creep inside the cabin once you climb up the revs but the engine doesn’t sound gruff.
Talking about the transmission, it’s precise and clunky (in a good way). However, the gates aren’t as precise as we get in other Japanese cars. As the Magnite only has 5 ratios to play with, the higher gears are set taller to aid fuel efficiency and it does a great job in that regard. The clutch travel is a bit long but thankfully, the operation is light. You may take some time to judge the biting point of the clutch, but it’s sorted after that. Despite having lesser horses to brag for, the Magnite maintains its charm with stupendous in-city drivability and effortless cruising on the highways.
Nissan Magnite Fuel Efficiency & Range:
The Magnite comes with a 40-litre fuel tank and the ARAI claimed fuel efficiency for the 1.0 turbo MT is 20 km/l. With that being said, it delivers good economy figures inside the city and even better figures on the highways. With two people on board, you can expect around 13-15 km/l inside the city (can expect 1 km/l drop with AC on). On the highways, it depends on the way you drive the car. If you maintain 100-110 km/h on the highway with AC on, it will return 18-19 km/l. Set the cruise at 85 km/h and it shows some remarkable figures – our test with the given practice showed 25 km/l on the MID which is great for a car of this segment.
Nissan Magnite Verdict:
The sub-compact SUV market is booming these days and it’s a necessity to have a USP. While others settle for a long list of features or boast with their after-sales service, Magnite has hit the sweet spot. However, there is some scope of improvement left for the latter. The sales are booming and the waiting periods are sky-high. What you get with the package is refreshing and alluring looks, loaded interiors, brilliant space and practicality at attractive price. It surely has some downsides including; not-so premium plastics when compared to rivals, bouncy rides and compromised NVH. But you see, the pros overcome all the cons! So if you want a car that is head & shoulders above the regular hatchbacks and sedans at a similar price, the Magnite hits the bombshell for you!
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