Nissan Magnite First Drive Impressions

As an automaker, Nissan hasn’t been in the news or the top 10 list for quite some time now. Despite being one of the leading carmakers in the globe, Nissan has not yet achieved the anticipated sales numbers in the Indian market.

However, things are about to change, and for the better that is. You see, in the fiercely competitive sub-4m compact SUV space, Nissan has debuted its Magnite – a sub-4m high-riding vehicle developed specifically to meet the dire needs of an Indian consumer. And, on top of that, it is the brand’s make-or-break model as the carmaker’s future in the Indian market solely depends on this small SUV.

It is, after all, a much-needed shot in the arm for Nissan in India, which is why the brand has left no stones unturned to make it stylish, heavily loaded with gizmos, and priced it extremely well undercutting all its rivals so that there comes no reason to pick the Nissan Magnite over its competitors. But is that really the case? Let’s find out.

We’ll have the price comparison debate later, but first let’s take a look at what makes the Magnite a special car, apart from its well-sorted price. First things first, Nissan has designed the Magnite in such a way it looks unlike anything else on the market. And sharp and rugged, it actually is. From the sleek sharply cut headlamps, heavily-creased bonnet to the vertically stacked DRLs, the Magnite really has an imposing stance from the front. One thing that does look a bit out of place though, is the massive Datsun grille at the front, which should have been reprofiled when Nissan cars made the decision to not sell it under its affordable brand.

Nevertheless, and small nitpicking aside, it really looks good from other angles too. From the side, the car looks like a small SUV rather than a hatchback on stilts, which is a problem with most cars in this segment. The eagle-like taillamps along with a rugged bumper add that last bit of SUV appeal to the Magnite. Our test car was finished in dual-tone – blue with a white roof and black ORVMs – and it looked extremely stunning. It even managed to turn some heads on the move.

Step inside, and the expectations set by the well-designed exteriors are quickly washed away by looking at the interiors. The doors feel like they have made from light metal sheet, the plastic quality isn’t up to the class standards, and some panel gaps are inconsistent. The overall plastic quality isn’t going to bowl over anyone too.

However, as far as equipment is concerned, the Magnite does climb back on the lost brownie points as it brings a segment-first 360 parking camera technology to the mix, along with the usual gizmos like 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple Carplay/ Android Auto, push-button start with keyless entry, cruise control, a tyre pressure monitoring system, climate control, and so on. It also gets a 7.0-inch digital MID with somewhat cartoon-ish graphics. But, hey, it is very informative and easy to read on the move.

As for the engine options, the base variants of the Magnite come powered by a 1.0-litre three-cylinder naturally-aspirated engine, which makes 71bhp and 96Nm of torque and comes mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. We’ve tested this engine earlier in the Renault Triber and it’s nothing to write home about.

What should be of more interest is a 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, which churns out 99bhp and 160Nm of torque. It comes mated to either a 5-speed manual or a CVT automatic transmission. With this engine, the Magnite feels sprightly to drive around town and the throttle response, too, feels a bit too eager. However, this engine, despite being a turbocharged unit, gains momentum in a progressive manner. The gearbox, too, is configured in a way it prefers linear progression over anything else.

Moreover, the light steering wheel of the Magnite, too, hints that the car is meant to be driven with ease and not relentlessly. The ride quality, on the other hand, is stellar and the car has a soft suspension setup, which means that bumps are absorbed quite effortlessly.

At Rs. 4.99 lakhs (introductory ex-showroom, India), the Nissan Magnite easily undercuts most of its rivals. Even the top-spec version, priced at Rs 9.45 lakh (introductory ex-showroom, India) with the turbo-CVT combination scores huge on the value-for-money front. So if you don’t mind making a few plush sacrifices for a lot less money, the Magnite is the car to pick in the segment. Also, grab the latest info on the new cars, only at autoX.

The views and opinions expressed by the writer are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official position of VOM.
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