Auto focus

Magnetic personality, but attractive enough?

S Muralidhar | Updated on October 22, 2020 Published on October 22, 2020

New Nissan Magnite’s good looks may not be sufficient. The entire package needs to pull buyers away from segment leaders

The market hasn’t been kind to Nissan India during the last few years. The slow, over-cautious product strategy of Nissan was a sharp contrast to the blitzkrieg of new vehicles that have been introduced by its competitors. Its last model - the Kicks managed to bring back some interest amongst buyers, but it is time for the brand to stir up some excitement to compensate for the long stagnation in its portfolio.

That breath of fresh air could be the new Magnite — Nissan’s ‘gap-filling’ next model. A sub-four-metre, sub-compact sports utility vehicle, the Magnite will attempt taking on formidable competitors like the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza, Tata Nexon, the Hyundai Venue and what seems to have become the segment benchmark — the Kia Sonet.

This is not going to be an easy task, but Nissan officials are confident that the new Magnite will stand up to the scrutiny. The final pre-production model was made available for a preview, and here are my first impressions from that session earlier this week.

Design

The Magnite has been built on the CMF A+ platform, the Renault-Nissan alliance’s shared platform also used for the Triber. According to company officials, a lot of the exterior design elements were extensively researched amongst potential target customers before being frozen. So, while the vehicle is about 3,999mm or less in length, the need to make it imposing and with a more butch stance than the competitors resulted in the raised hood and the squared-off wheel arches. The large bonnet grille complements the overall design intent, as does the chrome surround, though there is a hint of the feature resembling the Datsun signature grille. Feedback is also said to have come in about the need for LEDs in all the lighting. So, LED projectors in the headlamp and the light-saber turn indicators set within a sleek housing contrast nicely with the oversized grille. The LED DRLs have been separated from the headlamp and are set within the large front fender. The variant (in pics) I saw at the preview is said to be the unnamed top-spec with the one-litre turbo engine. Customers will have the option of choosing a tech pack with six additional special features. LED fog lamps and a faux skid plate below the fender give the Magnite a really good intro. At the rear, the elongated tail-lamps visually enhance the width of the vehicle. The split lamps wrap around the broad haunches and the light configuration is also quite premium. The tailgate has been constructed out of a mix of plastic and metal to deliver its sculpted design. It also manages to offer a low loading lip for the 336-litre boot area.

Interior

The cabin of the new Magnite has a very car-like feel overall. A mild flat-bottomed, multiple-function steering wheel with stitched leather finish, elongated hexagonal aircon vents and a driver-oriented tilt in the centre stack give it that vibe. But the raised seat position and relatively thin A-pillar means that the visibility of the front is good. But, I felt that rear visibility is a bit restricted due to the thick C-pillar and the smaller than average size of the rear-view mirror. But, the top-spec model offers video feed from four cameras (front, rear and one each on the door mirrors too) on the 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system. There is also the option of the “around view monitor”, a simulated aerial view for help during parking in tight slots. The instrument cluster is also a 7-inch digital screen with attractive animations delivering drive-related information, including the speedo, engine temperature and fuel gauge.

The infotainment package also includes a segment-first wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity with related voice-recognition services. Nissan is also expected to offer other connected car features using an app. The optional Tech Pack offers six other features including premium JBL speakers, wireless phone charger, air purifier, puddle lamps and ambient cabin lighting.

Powertrains

The Magnite is expected to be offered with two petrol engine options (no diesel being considered). Both the engines are said to be 3-cylinder units. But, the official announcement currently only talks about the more interesting HRA0 turbocharged petrol engine. My guess is that this straight-3 will deliver about 95-100PS of peak power and about 150-160Nm of peak torque.

The engine is being offered with the option of a 5-speed manual or the Nissan X-Tronic CVT automatic gearbox. Nissan has quoted a mileage number of 20.3kmpl, but there is no info yet if this is an internal assessment or the official ARAI rating.

One can’t deliver any opinions about the powertrain performance until one can take the Magnite out on the road. But, cranking the engine at the display stall showed that the cabin has been fairly well-insulated, though not the best in the segment.

Nissan officials also point to considerable efforts taken to improve refinement levels including what they call ‘mirror bore cylinder coating’ technology to reduce engine resistance and improve mileage.

Differentiators

The Magnite is likely to be a shade more spacious than the top three contenders in the B-SUV segment. Nissan claims that the shoulder room at the front is more than 700mm and the rear knee-room is 593mm. The seats are also comfy with contrast materials and a squab construction that focuses on offering enough thigh and lumbar support, even for rear passengers. The other differentiator is the roof rails which are not just for style, but can also handle loads of up to 50kgs. The Magnite also gets a bevy of safety features, including vehicle dynamic control, ABS with EBD, traction control, hill-start assist and dual airbags. Ground clearance is also an above average 205mm.

Nissan officials claim that a lot of features will be standard across variants, including the 16-inch wheel size, something that they believe is essential to retain the exterior design’s charm. Still, there are a lot of features like auto headlamps, auto wipers, sunroof etc., that are missing in the Magnite. The variant strategy is not clear yet and one has to wait to see if more loaded trim variants may be considered.

However, it is clear that Nissan wants to win back customers with this model. And, after trying hard at packing it in, the company is likely to take the fight to the competition with an aggressive pricing strategy. I expect prices to range from ₹7 lakh to ₹10 lakh. Deliveries will begin from early 2021.

Follow us on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. You can also download our Android App or IOS App.

Published on October 22, 2020
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor