Nissan Magnite aims to wow buyers with features

Nissan SA recently added the Magnite small crossover to its line-up.

Nissan SA recently added the Magnite small crossover to its line-up.The Magnite enters a bust segment where Ford’s Ecosport has been the leader for a number of years, but with more and more manufacturers coming up with similar vehicles, like the recently launched Suzuki Vitara Brezza and the Toyota Urban Cruiser, things are going to get tough. Does the Nissan Magnite have what it takes to be a sales success? Autodealer drove the highest specced version of this new crossover, the Acenta Plus CVT, to find out.

Modern design

The Nissan Magnite sports a bold exterior with sharp lines right around and a progressive front end. A set of sleek LED headlights with complementing LED fog lights surround the bold grille, while the back looks just as attractive. All the necessary trimmings associated with a compact crossover, like faux bash plates in the front and rear, plus black cladding around the wheel arches, make it clear that this is no ordinary hatch. The Magnite’s polished, 16-inch chrome alloy wheels and black roof, furthermore, make it look sporty and bring the Magnite in line with the latest crossover styling trends. It is really an attractive little car that looks the part no matter the angle from which you look at it. Inside, the cabin is very ”airy” thanks to a high roof and big windows.

Nissan did a good job in making the Magnite look smart and sophisticated inside by applying a mixture of materials, like the seats which are made up of several types of cloth as well as some leather inserts.

The dash, also, is not just a flat slab of plastic, but a selection of different panels with even some carbon-look sections in the mix. Interior layout is not only smart, but also practical, with many storage options. What catches the eye first is an eight-inch colour touchscreen with, right below it, a wireless smartphone charging station. The flat pad with its rubber surface is positioned to make using it easy for the driver, something to which some premium German sedans cannot lay claim – theirs being hidden away and hard to access when on the move.

Space inside the Nissan Magnite is also quite generous despite the crossover’s compact dimensions. Rear legroom is more than enough for adults, but shoulder room, in the rear as well as up front, is a tad on the skinny side.

Many features

We have already mentioned that big touchscreen and wireless charging station, but what about the rest? Well, Nissan must really have been in a good mood when kitting out the Magnite, because it gave the crossover keyless entry, push-button start, cruise control as well as one of the brand’s top support technologies in the form of the Around View Monitor (AVM), which gives the driver a virtual bird’s eye view from above the vehicle.

This feature makes the Magnite easy to operate in tight spaces. But Nissan did not stop there when dishing safety kit; the Magnite boasts Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Hydraulic Brake Assist (HBA), Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC), Traction Control System (TCS), Hill Start Assist (HSA), speed-sensing door lock, central locking and a SRS dual airbag system with pretension and load limiter seatbelt for driver and passenger.

There is even a tyre pressure monitor. All that safety tech, together with a birds eye view of what is going on around the car and a raised ride height, should make the Magnite a safe car to operate in town and perfect as a family vehicle for all-round motoring.

Smooth CVT

As mentioned above, the Magnite derivative Autodealer was given by Nissan to test was the range-topping Acenta CVT. This means that the crossover’s 74kW/160Nm, 1.0-litre turbo-charged engine is driven through a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which is what Nissan favours in all its automatic cars. The CVT works perfectly with this small engine. In fact, it does a much better job of keeping the car going at the right speed and the right revolutions than what other small engines do when linked to conventional automatic transmissions.

While the little Magnite is not as exciting to drive as one would expect from a car with a turbo-charged engine, it does well in town and manages to keep up on the open road as well. Taking the Nissan out onto the N2, Autodealer did experience a bit of movement and had to correct the steering every now and again, but that is how these cars behave because of their lightweight construction and raised roof lines, so it is nothing out of the ordinary.

Being so light, and with a CVT transmission instead of a conventional auto or AMT (automated manual transmission), should make the Magnite a lot more frugal than rivals, with fewer stops at the pumps, which counts for a lot these days, fuel increasing almost by the week.


The new Nissan Magnite ticks almost all the boxes buyers of compact crossovers need to be ticked. It looks modern with a lot of fancy features and has ample interior space. It is also well-priced, with the base model going for R256 999 and the range-topper reviewed here not that far off at R305 700. Autodealer also likes the CVT transmission a lot and the fact that it is the only vehicle in that price range with a wireless smartphone charging station as standard spec.

Compared to rivals like the Vitara Brezza and Hyundai Venue, the Magnite feels less sturdy with a more “hollow” feel when closing the doors. The Magnite’s 1.0-litre, even though it is turbocharged, also feels slightly underpowered. Even so, the Nissan Magnite is definitely one of the must-drives when shopping around for a compact crossover.

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