Nissan Motor Corporation, which with its entity Nissan Motor India has been present in the domestic market since 2005 by offering CBU models such as the flagship X-Trail SUV and later established a fully-integrated manufacturing facility at Chennai, Tamil Nadu, hasn’t had a smooth innings in the Indian market thus far.
Over the last decade, since it came up with its sprawling campus in Oragadam along with alliance partner Renault, the company has been struggling to make a significant impression in the domestic passenger vehicle (PV) market with a market share that stood at mere 0.38 percent in the April-September 2020 period (3,326 units).
A lacklustre product portfolio, slow-to-respond attitude towards market dynamics and a feud leading to a breakup in 2014 with master franchisee partner Hover Automotive which was its sole sales and distribution partner, Nissan Motor India eventually also failed to earn the buyer trust with inconsistency in sales and aftersales experience on the ground.
While it tried to remain afloat by resurrecting the Datsun brand to cater to cost-competitive entry-level segment in India and launched newer products such as the Kicks crossover in 2019, the truth is that Nissan Motor India has been moving along in limp mode in the Indian market.
The just-revealed Nissan Magnite, the Japanese carmaker's first-ever compact SUV, clearly has a lot riding on it.
The sub-four-metre crossover – Nissan Magnite – which has been designed and developed keeping in mind the requirements of developing markets like India, and aims to give a sigh of relief to Nissan Motor India which will be one of its manufacturing bases globally for the model.
The Nissan Magnite has been developed in close conjunction between R&D teams in Japan and India to deliver a product which stands well on the needs of the local market.
In a recent interview with Autocar Professional, Kei Kyu, future design director, Global Design Centre, Nissan Motor Corporation, said, “Indian buyers are smart and are quite well informed about the latest car designs acrossthe globe. They are interested in owning an SUV that offers high ground clearance,advanced technology, and features. We have used these insights and developed theMagnite with sleek headlamps, a higher stance, DRLs on exterior, screens onthe dashboard and substantial roominess in the cabin.”
In the flesh, the Magnite looks bold and imposing. The wide and trapezoidal Datsun-look grille upfront flanked by sleek all-LED headlamps are modern design elements that draw one’s attention. The front bumper also houses large L-shaped vertically-oriented LED day-time-running lights and the small LED fog lamps beneath.
Towards the side, the rising window line, large body-clad wheel arches and the body-clad running board with clean side panels balance the aggression on the front. A little bit of drama, however, is added by the 16-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels and the high 205mm ground clearance.
At the back, the car gets inspiration from the Kicks in terms of the silhouette and from the Renault Triber from where it gets its beak-shaped wraparound tail lights. The sheet metal between the lamps is where the new, minimalist Nissan logo in brushed aluminium finishing sits, and the metal scoops inward to create a shelter for the space out Magnite emblem. The rear bumper in black and brushe aluminium breaks the amass of the metal above.
The rear number plate area also houses the rear-view camera and the edge of the boot lid carries ‘Turbo’ bade on its left and ‘CVT’ to the extreme right corner. Nissan is offering dual-tone paint shades wherein the roof gets a gloss-black finishing with roof rails and also houses a long antenna towards its rear.
On the inside, the Magnite aims to woo buyers with cabin roominess and the amount of space on offer. While the legroom both front and back seems adequate at the first glance, the sense of airiness is marred by the all-black upholstery and plastics that absorb the outside light entering inside the cabin.
With a tall stance, ingress and egress are relatively easier and the seats finished in textured fabric offer decent support with their lateral contours, with the rear seats especially offering a good back-rest angle. These seats also get a 60:40 split-fold functionality along with a centre armrest and rear AC vents. The crossover gets a 336-litre boot space.
At the front, the Magnite gets a floating dashboard with unique hexagonal-styled air vents. The large 8-inch full-flush touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is tilted slightly towards the driver, who also gets to see a bright 7-inch TFT coloured instrument cluster ahead of the steering wheel.
Nissan says that the car will offer a six-speaker premium audio system in the higher variants, which will also get cruise control functionality and get a 360-degree around view camera. These digital technologies are part of Nissan’s Intelligent Mobility vision.
Turbo power and safety kit
The Magnite will come powered by a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder ‘HRA0’ turbocharged petrol that features Nissan’s mirror-bore coating technology minimising friction inside the engine. The motor will come paired to a CVT or five-speed manual transmission options. The engine is based on the same 1.0-litre, three-cylinder unit that currently does duty in the Renault Triber and develops 71bhp and 96Nm in its naturally-aspirated form.
In terms of safety, Nissan wants to ensure it doesn’t skimp on equipment and has loaded the Magnite with dual airbags, ABS, EBD, TPMS, hydraulic brake assist, hill-hold assist and speed-sensing door locks. The car also boasts a high-tensile steel construction.
According to Sinan Ozkok, president, Nissan Motor India, “India is a key market for production, R&D, new product, development and Nissan will continue to prioritise its investments in India. We will reduce fixed costs to rationalise growth and the all-new Nissan Magnite plays a vital role in our Nissan Next strategy for sustainable growth in India. Nissan Magnite is one of the eight models the company plans to launch in India in the near future.”
Rakesh Srivastava, managing director, Nissan Motor India, added, “In line with its customer-centric approach, Nissan has strengthened its commitment by bringing the showroom experience to customers at their home with the Nissan Virtual Showroom, which aims to offer an interactive experience. The complete Nissan and Datsun portfolio is now available to customers to purchase online.”