JOHANNESBURG – THE compact SUV/crossover B segment has just become a bit more competitive with the introduction of Nissan’s Magnite.
It’s a competitive segment to be sure that includes Kia’s Sonet, Ford EcoSport, Honda WR-V, Toyota Urban Cruiser and the Suzuki Vitara Brezza.
From a consumer’s point of view that’s not a bad thing as the world swings more towards SUVs and budgets and disposal income are squeezed ever tighter.
There’s no mistaking the Magnite’s compact SUV lines with square wheel arches, front and rear silver skidplates, integrated sculpted bodyside cladding, 16-inch alloys, roof rails that can hold a 50kg load and 205mm of ground clearance.
From the front the cascading grille, LED L-shaped daytime running lights, LED bi-projector headlamps, lightsaber-style indicators and LED fog lamps shows that the designers at Nissan put a lot of thought into first impressions when you see it on the road or in the showroom.
Inside a first for the segment is an around view monitor that gives the driver a virtual bird’s eye view from above the car, a 17.8cm TFT instrument cluster that allows you different views and setting that you can toggle on the steering wheel including a tyre pressure monitor, a 20cm touchscreen with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as well as a smartphone tray so your phone doesn’t take up one of the cup holders or slides around in the door panel.
Under the bonnet there’s a 1.0-litre three cylinder turbo-charged petrol engine that’s good for 74kW and 160Nm in the five speed manual option and 152Nm in the variant fitted with a CVT.
Getting in behind the wheel I was impressed by the cream and black colour-coded interior in the car that I was assigned to with the dashboard one of the more unique shapes in the segment resembling a futuristic design accentuated by the air vents.
The switchgear too felt solid and is likely to stand the test of time.
The first drive was with the five-speed manual on a route that included both city and some freeway driving, the type of terrain that the Magnite is likely to do most of its time on the road.
Acceleration was crisp with the by now familiar three cylinder thrum present as you switch easily through the gears. It cruises comfortably at the national speed limit with hardly any road noise even over some rough terrain and slight wind noise coming from the side mirrors as it cuts through the air.
I suspect though that loaded with the children’s school kit or luggage piled into the 336-litre boot space there’s likely to be a lot of gear changes.
Sampling the CVT driven version I was pleasantly surprised with little or no whining throughout the rev range. It takes a while to get up to speed but once the Magnite is cruising along it holds its speed well.
I never thought I’d say this but if I had to choose I’d go for the CVT option.
Cruising through suburbia with the traffic circles and speed bumps that comes with the territory, the suspension coped admirably and when someone decided to ignore the traffic circle rules, the brakes quickly had me at a standstill.
Despite the Magnite slotting into the B segment it’s still loaded with safety features such as dual airbags, vehicle dynamics control, hill start assist, traction control and ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution.
Nissan’s Magnite has been a long time coming but the wait has certainly been worth it. It's a decent vehicle that comes in a classy package, loaded with technology and safety features, it has to be on your list when you’re out shopping in this segment.
It comes with a three-year/30 000km service plan and a six-year/150 000km warranty.
2021 NISSAN MAGNITE PRICING IN SOUTH AFRICA
Nissan Magnite Acenta (manual) – R256 999
Nissan Magnite Acenta (CVT) – R280 100
Nissan Magnite Acenta Plus (manual) – R282 600
Nissan Magnite Acenta Plus (CVT) – R305 700