The upside and downside of Nissan Magnite 1.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol

For the price, you do get a sleek design, yet the car falls out when it comes to engine power

The Nissan Magnite’s entry into our market, which was launched in India over a year ago, it shook up the compact SUV segment. While we previously reviewed the rather-impressive turbo-petrol version, we now experience the more affordable, naturally aspirated version. Is it as easy to recommend it as its costlier turbocharged counterpart? Read on to discover.

Let us start with the engine, which is the biggest change in this variation of the Magnite. Under the hood lies a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder naturally aspirated (NA) petrol engine, codenamed B4D. As expected, at 72hp and 96Nm, it significantly goes down on both the power and torque of the turbo-petrol engine (by 28hp and 64Nm). However, the Magnite 1.0 feels smooth when you pull away from standstill and the power is delivered in a linear manner.

The engine is not the punchiest unit out there, especially given that peak power and torque come in quite high in the rev range. This results in the Magnite feeling quite lethargic when caught in the mid-range, and in order to get the best out of the engine you have to work the gearbox a fair bit. Revving it too high also has little effect, resulting in noise without much progress. At highway speeds, the Magnite 1.0 NA feels strained and slightly out of its element.

Speaking of the gearbox, we drove the 5-speed manual version. This unit is not the slickest in operation and what does not help either is the biting point of the clutch, which takes some getting used to. Additionally, while the Magnite does share its powertrains with its sibling — the Renault Kiger — it misses out on the AMT automatic gearbox that is offered with the 1.0-litre NA in the Kiger. This hampers its appeal as a city car to an extent, as more abuyers opt for the convenience of an automatic in the urban environment.

In the ride department, this iteration of the Magnite is similar to the turbo-petrol variant. There is a firm edge to the ride, which works well when travelling at speed as it smoothens out almost all the imperfections that come its way and feels stable. At lower speeds the ride is a touch on the choppy side, thanks to this underlying firmness, and larger potholes do filter in. Cabin insulation is also not great, and on bad patches of road, apart from a fair amount of tyre roar, you can hear the suspension working away. This gives a sense that the suspension is not as robust as it actually is.

There is another positive to the slightly firm set-up, and that is the handling. The Magnite’s body roll is quite nicely contained and it handles the twisty roads well. The steering does not provide a lot of feedback, nor is it quick, though it feels nice and light at low speeds.

Design wise, Nissan has kept both variations of the Magnite identical, with their badging being the only way of discerning them visually. The Magnite looks smart and well-proportioned. Its sleek headlight, hexagonal grille and ‘L’ shaped DRLs give it a unique and recognisable identity. In profile, you can also see the sharp creases and pronounced cladding around the wheel arches that add character to the Magnite. The rear looks neat and we like the clean lines of the sculpted tail-lights and boot lid.

Step inside the cabin and you are greeted by a well laid-out dashboard with a modern look. There are some neat design touches like the hexagonal AC vents that look like they could belong in a Lamborghini, the climate control screens are well incorporated into the rotary adjustment dials, the 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster and the free-standing 8.0-inch infotainment (which is quite responsive and easy to use).

There are also some nice features on offer like keyless entry and go, automatic climate control, the 360-degree camera (which is not the clearest), and wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity (which is slightly temperamental to use). There are also a number of convenient storage spaces around the cabin, including a huge glovebox and large cup holders, though the fixed front centre armrest feels like a missed opportunity for another storage space. The way the dash is recessed and the central console is placed low also give a great sense of space for a car of this size.

Technical Specifications

  • Engine: 3 cyls, 999cc
  • Power: 72hp at 6250rpm
  • Torque: 96Nm at 3500rpm
  • Gearbox: 5-speed manual
  • L/W/H: 3994/1758/1572mm
  • Wheelbase: 2500mm
  • Ground Clearance: 205mm
  • Boot capacity: 336 litres

An area where the Magnite lacks is the quality of material. Things like the exposed steering rack in the driver’s footwell also does not help the perceived quality. One big exception here is the denim-like fabric Nissan has used on the various elbow rests around the cabin — it is a premium touch in an otherwise dull and lacklustre cabin.

The front seats offer a good view out and are well-cushioned, offering good amount of comfort. Rear seats are also quite comfortable, offering plenty of space (even for taller passengers) and good levels of under-thigh support.

One of the biggest appeals of the Magnite 1.0 NA has to be its price. Starting at ₹ 5.71 lakh for the base XE trim and going up to ₹7.85 lakh for the top-spec XV Premium trim (ex-showroom, Delhi), this iteration of the Magnite offers some real bang for your buck. There are few hatchbacks that can provide this level of kit and space for the same price, let alone compact SUVs. However, this naturally aspirated engine struggles to offer strong performance. This does not matter much when looking for a daily commuter to use in the city, however, as an SUV to use for long-distance travelling, it is a limitation. The lack of an automatic gearbox option with this engine does also hurt its potential as an urban runabout, but if it is sheer value you are after, the Magnite B4D is hard to beat.

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