The world’s four largest carmakers—Volkswagen, Toyota, Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance and General Motors—have struggled to achieve similar success in India. Nissan, in particular, offered two cars that were initially well-accepted by Indian buyers (the Sunny and the Micra), but later on rather than introducing its globally-acclaimed cars, it launched the Datsun sub-brand, which could never attract enough buyers. In fact, for six years, the Indian market didn’t get any new Nissan-branded car (the Terrano in 2013, followed by the Kicks in 2019). Now, under the Nissan NEXT strategy for India, it will soon launch the Magnite, a sub-4 metre SUV, and enter the highly-competitive segment dominated by Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza, Hyundai Venue and Kia Sonet, among others.
For the Magnite, Nissan’s engineers, it appears, have benchmarked all existing sub-4 metre SUVs and tried to better those. This gets reflected in the exterior design. Barring the huge Datsun-like front grille—which may elicit mixed reactions—the SUV looks well-proportioned and well built. Its ground clearance is 205 mm, and turning radius of just 5 metres. The cabin is where the Magnite tries to stand out. The seat fabric is firm, there are plenty of storage spaces, the dashboard is quite distinctive, and Nissan claims it is the most spacious SUV in its segment—including 336 litres of cargo space. Top-end variants of the Magnite will get a ‘tech pack’ that includes a wireless charger, air purifier, puddle lamps and ambient/mood lighting, and speakers from JBL.
It has the HRA0 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, mated to either the five-speed manual gearbox or the automatic X-Tronic CVT. The engine, Nissan claims, returns fuel efficiency of 20 km/litre. “We aim for the Magnite to redefine the segment and surpass customer expectations,” said Rakesh Srivastava, MD, Nissan Motor India. “It is the ideal aspirational upgrade for hatchback buyers in India.” Overall, while the Magnite comes across as a good SUV, Nissan will have to price it ‘just right’.
With the Kicks, Nissan did a major mistake by pricing it higher than its own brand value. With the Magnite, it cannot afford to repeat that. (Its price will be announced during the launch in some time.)
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