This segment of vehicles is on the track to distinction and an ever-rising number of manufacturers are stepping into the compact-SUV space. The Magnite is what Nissan is calling their offering and we’ve got a chance to spend some time with the production-spec mule up close before the global unveil. Our impressions? Read on.
Since this is a compact-SUV you already know the dimensions that wrap around the Magnite. Official figures are yet to be revealed but as far as visual perception goes, it’s about the size of the Sonet and the sloping roof-line adds to the resemblance. Nissan has been clever to study and understand the market demands and have thrown in the kind of kit a typical buyer would look for. For instance, all lighting elements on the front fascia; the headlamps, the DRLs, the turn indicators, and even the fog lamps are LEDs. The peeled-back headlamps look sharp and they also house the LED turn indicators that are very distinct. Yes, it’s hard not to notice the uncanny resemblance with Datsun’s grille design but that discussion can be left for another day. Overall, it’s sure to get some eyeballs rolling.
What’s also striking are those wheels. They sure do grab attention but are they really elegant or sporty? I don’t agree to the fullest. Yet, the dimensions are proportionate to the heavily pronounced wheel-arches that wear plastic cladding around them, which also adds to the SUV appeal. There’s that dual-tone cladding on the doors for an opulent touch along with judicious use of chrome around the window line. The muscular bulge on the rear wheel arch kept drawing my attention and it’s probably the best styling element for the Magnite’s profile. Dual-tone models wear a contrasting roof colour and in all the shape and design seems inspired by its elder sibling, the Kicks. That in my books is a really good thing.
While most compact-SUVs fail to impress with their rear design, the Magnite combines some bold design cues with a crisp tailgate to finish its exterior appeal. No boxy dimensions, neat tail lamps, well-executed dual-tone bumper and the Magnite insignia just under the Nissan logo. The best bit has to be the chiselled spoiler that adds a hint of JDM flavour to the design. The tailgate opens up to reveal a generously spaced boot that’s relatively squarish and easy to load.
While the exteriors were heavily revealed thanks to the Magnite Concept and the spy shots of this very production model, it was the interiors that were kept deep undercover unknown. Fairly impressed with the exteriors, the interiors were all set to showcase its key strengths as I hoped into the driver’s seat. A glance of the dashboard and you’ll realise the extensive thought process that’s gone behind this cabin. The central console is slightly tilted towards the driver and that always makes a cabin feel special. Then there are those hexagonal air vents along with the patterned finish on the dashboard that give it a nifty touch. The screen interface resembles the ones on Renault vehicles and so does the engine start-stop button (even the placement). What’s worth celebrating is the introduction of wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and I also really like the dedicated slot to charge your phone wirelessly.
Plenty of cubby holes to put your stuff, big bottle holders on the doors yet very strangely there’s no storage under the central armrest, even though you’d imagine one to be present. And while the steering wheel was grippy and chunky to hold, it took me ages to accustom myself to the toy-like digital instrument cluster. Conventional tachos would have been lesser expensive and more appealing, I guess?
Nevertheless, what will certainly uplift your mood are those well-cushioned and supportive seats that have a very interesting fabric finish. And there’s this robust and reassuring thud with which the doors close. It’s these smaller places where Nissan decided to spend in more hours, perfecting the feel of the cabin, and that will certainly appeal to many.
Onto the rear, the most dreaded place for someone as tall as me. But who would have known that the biggest surprise lies back in here? While not many rear seats feel roomy, the Magnite surely impresses with the space on offer. Representatives from Nissan hinted at class-leading figures for the rear seat yet we’ll have to pull out our measuring tape to second that. Nevertheless, the space on offer felt plentiful, the cabin was airy on the whole providing good visibility all around and the bench itself was wide enough. You get your usual kit for the rear occupants but a neat addition has to be the dedicate slot to place your phone. Also, keen eyes would notice the relatively straight cut rear door that aids for easy ingress and egress.
A lot of questions yet the tight-lipped officials were sure not to let any critical information out. What the test mules did make evident was the availability of a 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine on offer, along with a CVT transmission that’s sure to keep them shifts smooth. Nissan is hinting at class-leading figures for the powertrains and that should keep the excitement levels up until it’s launched, which is slated to happen before March next year.
The dimensions are right, both for the interiors and exteriors, the looks are sharp and the product looks robust. Tough enough to take on its competitions? It’s no stroll in the park to challenge its well-established peers but we expect Nissan to leave no stones unturned in terms of its pricing and service packaging to promote a peaceful ownership experience. We are anticipating a starting point just under 5 lakh rupees and that should make the Magnite an interesting proposition. It’s a make-or-break vehicle for the brand in India and Nissan is certainly taking their sweet time to study, assess, and then launch in their vehicle. And when that happens, you’ll hear again from me with an extensive road test review, probably a comparo to help you folks pick the right C-SUV suited to your needs and maybe feature it in a long road trip to share my travel stories.