Nissan tries to capitalise on the affordable convenience of an AMT in the Magnite
- Larger dimensions than rivals
- AMT adds convenience
- Feature loaded
- Ageing design
- Build quality can be improved
- Not the smoothest of automatics
Nissan launched the Magnite in 2020 and the SUV has been carrying the weight of the company on itself single-handedly since. Initially it tasted a decent amount of success due to great positioning and pricing. It has sold steady numbers since then, though newer rivals have come along which has made the fight more intense. To counter it, Nissan has now introduced an AMT transmission on the 1.0L NA engine to bring along a more affordable automatic option below the CVT on the turbo-engined variants.
Nissan Magnite Exterior
The Magnite has always been the most “SUV” of its segment with a tall stance, wide hips and an imposing presence. The large grille at the front makes sure you get noticed as do the L shaped DRLs. It does not have curvy features like some of its rivals and the styling overall makes uses of straight and sharp cuts overall. However, over the years the design has surely aged and it does look like it. It might be imposing but not the most modern. That said, the good bits don’t here. You also have the chunky alloy wheels, thick cladding and proper roof rails keep it relevant. A small change Nissan has made with the Magnite is that the Vivid Blue colour now gets a dual tone roof option of Onyx Black instead of the White offered till now. Not to forget, the larger than life ground clearance of 205 mm means one less thing to worry about when driving through unprecedented terrains.
Nissan Magnite Interior
Climb inside the Magnite and you’re treated to a generous amount of space. The large-ish proportions on the outside have surely been utilised well on the inside. There is a good amount of legroom and the width is more than acceptable as well. The dashboard follows a similar design language as the exteriors with sharp and clean lines with minimal curves. The Lamborghini-esque AC vents add to the charm of the design. That said, the plastic quality leaves a lot to be desired. Fit and finish, though not as bad as some other cars could also be improved.
In terms of features, the Magnite gets loaded with stuff such a digital instrument cluster, Wireless Android Auto/Apple Carplay functionality, 360 view parking camera, LED headlamps, Keyless entry and more. Additionally, Nissan now also offers safety features such as TPMS, Rear wiper, ESP, Traction Control, Hill Start Assist as standard with all variants.
The infotainment system is easy to use and the JBL speakers throw out good quality sound. However, the speakers sound a bit too bright when you turn up the volume to higher levels. The instrument cluster has a very good resolution and the MID shows a lot of information including the TPMS readouts but honestly the graphics were overkill even back then in 2021. Nissan could have put some effort in modernising them to adapt to the elegant option from the rivals. Some features that are evident by their absence include a sunroof, auto-dimming IRVM and height-adjustable seatbelts at the front.
The Nissan Magnite gets a 336-litre boot space that is enough to keep luggage for four people. The rear seats also get 60:40 split just in case more room for luggage is needed.
Performance: Powering the Nissan Magnite is a choice of two petrol engines: 1.0-litre NA unit and a1.0-litre turbocharged motor. The 1.0-litre NA engine produces 71bhp and 96Nm of peak torque and is mated to a standard five-speed manual transmission apart from the AMT offered in the test drive vehicle. The 1.0-litre turbo-petrol unit, on the other hand, churns out 99bhp of power and 160Nm of peak torque. Apart from the 7-speed CVT, there is also a five-speed manual gearbox on offer, producing the same engine and power figures.
The engine has a decent mid-range and top-end and because of that, but it takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r to reach triple-digit speeds, since the turbo duties are not assigned in the AMT counterpart. At lower speeds the cabin stays pretty quiet, thanks to the good NVH levels, but post 80 km/h you will hear the engine noise continuously, which can get too much sometimes.
This AMT transmission drives relatively well while in and around the city. At slower speeds, it does a peaceful job and there isn’t too much room to complain. Step on the accelerator a bit and it’s a whole different story. What’s surprising is it actually takes longer than you think. Even after that, the power delivery doesn’t feel very smooth. The engine feels especially underpowered when travelling uphill. We noticed that even while moving from a standstill this AMT gearbox struggles a bit to get it going. That said, since Nissan already had the relatively better CVT doing its job in the Turbocharged variant, the AMT is purely intended to up the ante in terms of sales figures for the Japanese brand as this combination remains really affordable in the automotive spectrum.
Ride and Handling:
The handling is not that precise, and the steering isnt the best in terms of the weight it offers, but once you reach closer to the triple digit mark it tries its best to contribute to a fun and engaging driving experience (considering the fact that Nissan’s weren’t known to be enthusiast friendly, of late)
The ride quality of Magnite is compliant, though on a slightly firmer side, especially when you are reminded how competent the Terrano was in this department. It is better at higher speeds. However, going over uneven surfaces at low speeds do unsettle it to an extent and there is a prominent thud sound heard from the suspension when going over large potholes or bumps. The firm suspension gives it good straight line stability though. Coming to the handling, throw the Magnite into corners and it starts getting nervous with evident body roll. The steering also feels vague and requires more input at times. Feedback could definitely have been better. The Magnite surely doesn’t like going around corners.
Conclusion: The Nissan Magnite is a strong contender in the highly competitive compact SUV market. It combines an eye-catching design, a comfortable and well-appointed interior, decent performance, and the fact that the Automatic transmission is available from the base variant makes it very aspirational, all at an attractive price point starting just 6.49 lakhs ex-Showroom. While it may not be the absolute best in every category (especially the void of sunroof will trigger the GenZ folks), it offers a well-rounded package that should appeal to a wide range of buyers looking for a practical and stylish urban crossover.