Nissan Magnite Review: First Impressions
Nissan’s comeback intent seems strong with the Magnite. Behind the flashy exterior is a sensible family SUV.
Update (02/12/2020): Nissan has launched the Magnite with prices beginning from Rs 4.99 lakh (ex-showroom). Read more about it here.
It had to be an SUV — and a really good one at that — for Nissan to make space in buyers’ minds. With the Magnite, they have a really strong chance of making it happen. On the face of it, the ninth (yes, ninth!) sub-4-metre SUV to be made available seems like a practical, small SUV for the family, with a few feel-good elements to sweeten the deal. Let’s take a closer look.
That’s a Datsun! Our first thoughts too. Nissan’s signature V-motion grille would’ve solved the Magnite’s identity crisis quite easily. That’s not to say it’s not good looking. While most small SUVs have chosen to put on flab and height, Nissan has chosen to keep it sleek and sharp. The proportions are spot on too, which might just fool you into thinking the Magnite is larger than the numbers on paper might suggest. It can’t shrug off the baby Kicks vibe, thanks to the pointy nose, the raked A-pillar and a roof line that smoothly flows into the raised rear.
We’d go as far as to say the Magnite might just have the cleanest rear end design of all pint-sized SUVs. Sadly, there are no LED tail lamps here (no light guides either), even on the top-spec version. We like the “Magnite” lettering spelt out in bold, and the minimalistic Nissan insignia too. It gets the usual faux skid plate with a large silver element running through the centre, making it look rather sporty.
This dual-tone theme for the cladding continues round to the side. And no, there’s no stickering here masquerading to be the tough-looking stuff (like the Kwid or the Triber). It’s the real deal. Those 16-inch alloy wheels look straight out of the concept too. The twin-shade finish on the alloys really pop with loud colours such as the red and the blue. The Magnite gets the (almost) mandatory set of roof rails too. Just like the Triber, they can be actually used to carry up to 50kg of load and aren’t just an accessory. You’d like the tasteful use of chrome too, just a dab on the door handles and underlining the windows.
There’s a lot more chrome on the front around the grille and the daytime running lamp but it’s far from garish. The large grille adds to the feeling of width at first glance. Then the all-white front lighting on the Magnite also leads you to believe that this isn’t a sub-four-metre SUV. With sharp bi-projector LED headlamps, extra-large L-shaped daytime running lamps and LED fog lamps, the Magnite will make for a pretty sight in the rear-view mirror. The LED turn indicators run the length of the headlights like eyebrows. Pretty neat.
Also, you don’t really need numbers to notice that the wheelbase of the Magnite looks s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d. Benefits of sharing the platform with Renault’s versatile Triber? Seems like it. And that means an obvious advantage inside the cabin, right?
Absolutely. Getting in and out of the Magnite is easy, and elder-people friendly too. The doors open wide. With seats set relatively high, you can simply walk into the cabin.
The layered design of the dashboard looks funky, even if it’s trying to mimic a Lamborghini with those hexagonal AC vents. There’s some attention to detail here — with a smooth to touch film being applied on the central section of the dash, and fabric upholstery extending to the door pads. A dull silver finish on the steering wheel, door handles and AC vents help break the monotony of black.
Fit and finish, for the most part, is consistent. Also, while Nissan has been generous with the use of hard plastic, it does seem durable. Quality levels at first glance seem more or less on par with the Brezza rather than a Venue/Sonet. There are some obvious ‘could be better’ bits though — these include the power window switches, the steering-mounted controls and the dials for the climate control.
From the driver’s seat you’d like the fact that you can see the edge of the bonnet. If you’re new to driving, this is a huge confidence booster. It also helps that the seat is adjustable for height, and the steering for tilt. The seats themselves feel comfortable, even for plus-sized adults. What is a bother, however, is the footwell: for the driver and co-driver both. The odd shape means the co-driver will either have to keep the left foot flat on the floor, or sit in a slightly slanted position. Something that could easily contribute to fatigue on longer highway trips.
On the features front, the Magnite is doing the basics just right. Keyless entry, push-button start, automatic climate control and cruise control are offered on the top-spec variant. It’s got its own party tricks too, the first of which is the 7-inch TFT screen in the instrument cluster. The tablet-like display is crisp, with funky graphics and a host of information. There’s a 360° camera on offer too, but both the need and the quality are questionable.
There’s an 8-inch touchscreen too, that offers wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. It’s paired with a 6-speaker audio system. Nissan plans on introducing a ‘Tech Pack’ for the top-spec variant that will add a JBL audio system, ambient lighting, a wireless charger and puddle lamps to the Magnite’s kitty. If you’re wondering why we haven’t discussed a sunroof yet — there isn’t one.
Rear occupants get a phone charger along with a pair of AC vents. The real perk at the rear however is the space on offer. There’s ample kneeroom at the rear with the front seat set for a six-footer. Headroom is more than sufficient for a six-footer too. The large windows and the small rear quarter glass help mitigate the feeling of being hemmed in in an all-black cabin. Also, the Magnite does manage to seat three occupants at the rear with a bit of a squeeze. The Nexon still remains the benchmark here, but the Magnite won’t feel as cramped as the Venue/Sonet.
We like that the rear seats offer an adjustable headrest, and that 60:40 split seats are on offer too. Boot space, at 336-litres, is marginally better than that of the Brezza (328-litres) and in the same ballpark as the rest of the sub-four metre SUV clan.
Dual airbags, and ABS with EBD will be offered as standard. Other safety features including traction control, hill assist, vehicle dynamics control (VDC) will be on offer as well. We expected Nissan to offer four airbags, considering its platform mate, Renault’s Triber, gets it.
Expectedly, Nissan has chosen a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbocharged engine for the Magnite. Specifications haven’t been revealed officially. However, we expect this engine to make 100PS and 152Nm, just like the global version (as seen in the Nissan Almera). Transmission options will include a 5-speed manual and a CVT.
We’re also expecting Nissan to equip the Magnite with a 1.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol motor from the Triber. This motor makes 72PS and 96Nm, and could be offered with a 5-speed manual transmission only.
Also, considering the compact CMF-A platform, it’s safe to rule out the possibility of a diesel motor for the Magnite.
The ace up Nissan’s sleeve has to be pricing, for it would go a long way into luring customers back into the dealerships. We’re expecting ex-showroom prices to start around Rs 5.5 lakh and top out around Rs 10 lakh (for the top-spec version with the ‘Tech Pack’). That means the top-spec Magnite will battle it out with the mid-spec versions of other small SUVs such as the Brezza, Nexon, Venue and Sonet. Dial in the features and space at that price point, and the Magnite might seem like a tempting option. All that’s left for it to do now is impress us with its on-road manners.