Nissan Magnite compact SUV in CarToq’s first drive review [Video]

Let’s admit it, most of us have written off Nissan from the face of the Indian automobile market. There isn’t much happening in the Nissan’s camp and a product like the Kicks have become lost the game to the Koreans. Well, this is not the end of the road for the brand. After unveiling a brand-new logo earlier this year, Nissan has been working constantly on developing its all-new product – the Magnite. While we saw the glimpses of Magnite in the past few months and also got you the first look review a few weeks ago, most of us have been waiting to get behind the wheels of the Magnite and we did that recently! In short, Nissan India cannot be written off, not yet. Why? Well, for that read on.

Nissan Magnite’s 1.0 Turbocharged petrol engine

Since most of you have seen the Magnite and have already made your judgements on it, let’s start with what the all-new Magnite drives like. Nissan will offer two engine options with the all-new Magnite. There is a 1.0-litre naturally-aspirated engine that develops a maximum power of 72 PS and peak torque of 100 Nm. It is only available with a five-speed manual transmission. We did not drive this engine option as we were spending time with the more powerful 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine-powered variants. The all-new Magnite gets the all-new HRA0 1.0 turbo-petrol engine that generates a maximum power of 100 PS. It is available with two transmission options a five-speed manual and an X-Tronic CVT. With the manual transmission, it generates a maximum power of 160 Nm of peak torque and the CVT version has a maximum torque of 152 Nm.

Nissan Magnite 1.0 turbo-petrol manual drive

We started the drive with the manual version of the Magnite and to cut it short, it is a gem of an engine. Even though it is a three-cylinder set-up, there is no vibration and even when the car was idling, we did not feel it moving much. It gets a five-speed manual transmission and the transmission shifts well, it gets well into the slots and there is no soft feel to it. It is crisp. Also, the clutch pedal is light and there no need to put much of an effort to it, which means that you will be able to still feel your left leg after going through horrific traffic situations.

Now coming to the engine itself, yes, there is a bit of lag, which translates into a turbo-kick once the rpm crosses the 1,800 mark. Post that, it is a hoot to drive if you constantly keep it on the higher rpm. The power delivery is linear post the turbo-kick and once you get a hang of it, you will love how it just gets a boost of power. Now, on open highways and roads, that’s something you will love to experience but what about the city roads?

Well, Nissan has tuned the transmission for both the situation and it is a well-balanced box. The first gear ratio is relatively short but the second and third are pretty tall and you will keep the engine alive from as low as 10 km/h to more than 100 km/h. So you just need to shuffle between these two gears in heavy traffic situations and in most situations, keep it in the third gear will do the job well. But, if you want even more convenience, choose the CVT.

Nissan Magnite 1.0 turbo-petrol CVT drive

Nissan has also paired the turbo-petrol with the X-TRONIC CVT automatic. This transmission is perfect for driving inside the city limits. Unless you are pushing the pedal to the metal, you would not feel the rubberband-effect, which the CVTs are infamous for. It is tuned well to drive sanely on the roads, do your daily commute and go on highway drives occasionally. If you’re cruising on at about 90 km/h and want to overtake quickly, there is enough power on reserve to do that but since it is a CVT, it will take a micro-second to change the gear-ratio and push you forward. Yes, there is an “L” mode in the transmission, which will ensure that the engine stays in the higher rpm and ready to overtake as soon as you push the pedal but it will just ruin the fuel efficiency of the vehicle.

We could not test the fuel efficiency of the Magnite during our short time with the car. Mostly because it was so much fun to drive and we did not think about checking the fuel efficiency at all.

Nissan Magnite: Steering, suspension and comfort

The Magnite gets an electric power steering with both the engine options. It is quite good and precise but at higher speeds, you will feel it getting heavier too. However, if you have been driving a car with hydraulic steering wheel for a long time, you may find it artificially weighing up. Apart from that, it is a functional steering wheel with buttons to control the infotainment system, instrument cluster and the cruise control system. The suspension is on the stiffer side to minimize the body roll and it works very well with the Magnite. We could take corners at a faster speed. However, if you get an unmarked speed bump or a pothole, where you could not reduce the speed, you will feel it in your bones. We do like the set-up this way.

Nissan Magnite – Features that you will use daily

Nissan has done a wonderful job when it comes to the feature list. For example, you get the wireless phone charger and also the wireless Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay infotainment system that will allow your phone to charger and connect to the infotainment system wirelessly. It is a segment-first feature and there are more like a 360-degree camera. Yes, it is quite useful to park the vehicle in small places, which most of us do at the end of our driving sessions.

The dashboard layout looks good to the eyes, especially with the 8.0-inch infotainment system tilted towards the driver. It is a rich interface but did lag sometimes during our 5 hour time with the car. It should be alright with an update in the future. The infotainment system also has a driving manual that will detect the way you are driving and will give you tips.

The top-end variants of the Magnite will offer an all-digital instrument cluster with a massive 7.0-inch TFT screen that is highly rich in colours. The screenplays a welcome animation when the car starts and has some high-end smartphone level-graphics. There are various modes in the screen that you can set according to your needs including an ECO screen that ensures you get the highest fuel efficiency possible. Nissan also offers first-in-segment Tyre Pressure Monitoring System or TPMS that shows the OK status of the tyres. However, the exact pressure reading of the tyres is not available. In the rear, you get a 12V charging socket with two adjustable air vents. Also, the central armrest in the rear gets two cup holders and a phone holder too.

Safety-wise, it gets two airbags as standard across the model line-up. There is vehicle dynamics control, hill start assist, traction control, ABS, EBD and anti-roll bar too. We did test the traction control by slipping the clutch on the sand, it did turn out to be working quite well.

Nissan Magnite: Space

While we could not compare the space of the other cars in the segment with the Magnite, it offers a lot! It has ample headroom and shoulder room in the front seats while the rear offers a good amount of legroom too. There is comfortable enough under-thigh support too and since it gets large windows, even without the absence of a sunroof, the cabin feels bright and airy. Even the boot gets a lot of space. There is 336 litres of space a with 60:40 rear seat split, you can fit longer objects easily. The Magnite gets big bottle holders on all the four doors, rear seat pockets and a massive glove box of 10 litre, which is highest in the segment. There are two cup holders and more space to keep your knick-knacks in the centre console.

Nissan Magnite: Looks good enough?

It looks prominent on the roads, especially because of its massive grille in the front. It gets chrome outlining and it sure attracts a lot of eyes. Nissan claims the headlamps available with the Magnite are sleekest in the segment and they are all-LED. On the side, you get a Magnite branding on the fender and cladding on the skirts. The overall shape of the car looks very proportionate too. Nissan offers functional roof rails with the Magnite that also makes the car look taller. At the rear, it gets split tail lamps but they are not LED. Nonetheless, the car looks eye-catchy.

Somethings we did not like?

Well, Nissan Magnite is aiming to become the most affordable car in the segment and with that, it offers more than enough. However, just to mention, it gets hard plastic on the upper part, non-adjustable front armrest, a few sharp plastic edges on the door and a few missing features that the rivals offer. But then again, let’s wait for the prices before judging the car on these parameters. Honestly, we did not feel like anything is from the all-new Magnite.

Magnite: A winner in hand?

Nissan has a winner on its hands with the Magnite. It looks good, drives well and offers features that you will use daily. The only thing that we do not know is the price and that will be announced on the 26th of November. To make the Magnite a successful product, Nissan definitely needs to work on its dealership network, which is happening as we speak. It is the car that ensures that Nissan cannot be written off from the Indian market, not yet!