Nissan Magnite: Detailed first look at Nissan’s all-new compact-SUV
The compact SUV segment is hotter than ever! Just in the last two months we’ve seen Kia and Toyota enter the segment, and the competition is fierce. Now, Nissan is back to taking India seriously and the lucrative compact SUV segment is what it’s targeting with the all-new Magnite. It gets bold styling, plenty of features and a turbo-petrol engine. Let’s dig a little deeper and see what the fuss is all about.
On the outside, the production-spec Magnite is very similar to what we saw with the concept. There’s a large single-piece grille up front, with Nissan’s new logo, flanked by thin LED headlights and L-shaped DRL elements which look distinctive. Around the side, the Magnite looks very proportionate — no awkward endings here — it also gets a touch of bling thanks to the chrome door handles, the (functional) roof rails, and the chrome strip running around the window line. The back is fairly simple, with wide tail lights (not LED) and the Nissan badge and Magnite lettering sitting proudly in the center. Nissan has added quite a few design touches to the Magnite to make it look more like an SUV, including the plastic cladding all around, the faux skid plates and the pronounced haunches. In person, the Magnite looks pretty good, the flared arches work well, as do the LED lighting elements and the Magnite should turn a few heads when it first hits the roads.
The Magnite’s interior is well laid out, with the center console tilted ever so slightly toward the driver, making it easier to use the 8-inch touchscreen and reach the AC controls put underneath the screen. The AC controls, and the start/stop button seem to have been lifted directly from the Renault Triber, a distant cousin to the Magnite. The steering wheel is similar to a Renault unit as well, but it gets well placed media and cruise control buttons. In terms of quality, the plastics are not up to the mark of the best cars in the segment and they feel quite scratchy. The buttons too aren’t very well damped, and there isn’t a solid thud when you shut the doors.
Where the Magnite scores well is in the space department. As a driver you also sit fairly high up and you get a good view outside. Ingress and egress is better than most rivals for both the front and rear seats, and rear-seat legroom is great. If I sit behind myself in any other compact-SUV, my knees touch the front seat. But in the Magnite I have about an inch of legroom there – not much, but significant. There’s also clever storage all around the cabin, including a slot for your smartphone in the rear armrest, and large door pockets.
The Magnite does get a fairly large touchscreen, but it isn’t the most high-res unit, nor the most responsive. The menus take some getting used to, but the icons are big so it is easy to figure out while on the go. It also supports wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which is great considering it also has wireless charging — you never really need to carry your cable. The 7-inch digital instrument cluster is very well designed, the information is crisp, the display is bright and it doesn’t mess around with throwing a bunch of irrelevant information at you. It is perhaps the most well executed digital instrument cluster in the segment. It also gets connected car tech and all the features that come with that — remote start, geo-fencing, vehicle status, you know the drill by now. There’s also an ‘Around View Monitor’ (360-degree cameras) which are a ‘segment-first’, but the cameras aren’t very good. You can barely make out what’s going on, although that may be because the spray from constant sanitisation had clouded it. We’ll wait to test it in outdoor conditions and save our final judgement for then. Either way, you probably shouldn’t buy the Magnite just for the 360-degree cameras.
Nissan also said there will be a Tech Pack on offer with the Magnite which will include an air purifier, ambient lighting, the aforementioned wireless charging and a ‘premium’ sound system. We do not know which brand the speakers will be from, nor can we tell you how good the ambient lighting works since the prototype car we spent time with only had wireless charging added into it which….works. Nissan has also not revealed whether the tech pack will be available on all variants, or on just the higher end ones.
Nissan only disclosed that the Magnite will get a 1-litre turbo-petrol engine, mated to a CVT. Power figures weren’t revealed but the same HRA0 engine is in the internationally sold Almera and it makes 99bhp and 152Nm of torque in that application. This HRA0 turbo-petrol engine is the same unit that we saw under the hood of the Triber at the Auto Expo this year. Expect a manual option as well as a naturally-aspirated 1-litre engine.
Nissan has not revealed prices for the Magnite yet but we expect it to be between Rs 6 lakh to Rs 10 lakh and for that price it offers a lot of kit, looks the part and will make you stand out in the sea of Maruti-Suzuki Brezzas and Hyundai Venues. These compact SUVs have become rather sophisticated to drive, and it will be interesting to see how the Magnite fares in this competition. The Triber was a step up on the Kwid dynamically, and Nissan should have polished the platform even more for the Magnite. On paper and in the flesh, the Magnite certainly looks interesting and Nissan should be able to price it aggressively and undercut the competition to make it more appealing. Now to get our hands on it on the road, and give you the evo India verdict!