Nissan Magnite coming to SA: More details

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The Indian-made Nissan Magnite compact family car, which was recently awarded a 4-star rating in ASEAN NCAP crash testing and is already on sale in Indonesia, is set to arrive in South Africa in the coming months (1st quarter 2021). The local market will offer the Magnite with a 1.0-litre turbopetrol engine.

Last year, Nissan South Africa's marketing director, Kabelo Rabotho, confirmed the Rosslyn-based brand was looking at introducing 2 new compact crossover/SUV products (the Magnite, as well as the next-generation Qashqai – in the 4th quarter – as well as the Navara-based Terra SUV, the latter towards the end of the year. There's no word on when the next-generation X-Trail will arrive, however.

The Magnite is underpinned by the CMF-A+ platform that also underpins the Renault Triber and it's the cousin to the French firm's upcoming Kiger, which is also earmarked for Mzansi. It's produced at the Oragdam plant in India and rivals lower- to mid-spec derivatives of the Ford EcoSport, Hyundai Venue and Volkswagen T-Cross, Kia Sonet, Mahindra XUV 300, Renault Captur and Suzuki Vitara. 


Wait, isn't that a Datsun? The Magnite's styling incorporates cues of its sibling brand's design language, but it's no coincidence.

Autocar India reports that while "ASEAN NCAP has confirmed that the Magnite has received a 4-star crash test rating... sources tell us that crash test results for the Magnite conducted by Global NCAP (which local readers will recognise for the body's #SaferCarsforAfrica programme) are expected to be out in the coming months."

The India-spec Nissan Magnite features safety features such as dual front airbags, front seatbelt pre-tensioners with load limiters, ABS, EBD, rear parking sensors and front passenger seatbelt reminder as standard. Turbocharged iterations of the model (more about this later) also feature ISOfix child-seat mounts, ESC, traction control, hill start assist, brake assist, a 360-degree parking camera and a tyre-pressure monitoring system. The Indian publication points out Global NCAP only considers the standard safety equipment while testing and awarding its crash test rating...

An instant hit in India...

The Magnite's styling is eye-catching; some may even go so far as to say its chunky detailing is reminiscent to that of the Hyundai Venue. It features the prerequisite raised ride height (205 mm), sleek headlights with L-shaped LED DRLs, as well as accoutrements such as front and rear skid plates, rugged plastic cladding around the wheel arches, roof rails, and at least 16-inch wheels/alloys. 

The newcomer has attracted massive interest in its home market by virtue of Nissan India's "aggressive pricing strategy for all variants", which has resulted in a long waiting period for some variants.

Incidentally, it’s no surprise that the Magnite's grille has a Datsun look to it; this crossover was meant to have a Datsun badge but it bears a Nissan badge instead. You might be wondering why this is the case and it makes sense if you consider that Datsun is being scaled-down globally and instead of scrapping the project entirely, it has now been allocated to Nissan...  


The Magnite's interior architecture is clean and simple, but Nissan has not skimped on creature comforts and infotainment.

In terms of what will power the newcomer, Nissan SA has confirmed that an all-new 1.0-litre turbopetrol engine will be offered in South Africa in conjunction with a 5-speed manual or a continuously variable (CVT) automatic transmission. According to a Nissan India product brochure, the manual version produces 100 kW and 160 Nm, while the CVT has a slightly lower peak torque of 152 Nm. That suggests that the naturally aspirated 72 kW/96 Nm 1.0-litre petrol, which ostensibly helps the Magnite to be "most affordable compact SUV in the Indian market, won't be offered here.

As for the interior, the newcomer’s overall design is very minimalist. Lower- to mid-spec versions in the Indian market feature dual-tone trim, electric windows, a multifunction steering wheel, a 3.5-inch LCD drive info display, a 6-speaker audio system, and surprisingly, auto climate control, plus electrically adjustable and folding side mirrors.

We expect that SA-market derivatives are likely to feature at least some of the following features: 16-inch alloys, fog lamps, an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with (apparently wireless) Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 7-inch TFT driver info display, voice recognition technology, a reverse-view camera, as well as push-button start.  


The Magnite's load bay has a 336-litre capacity and the rear seatback can split in 60:40 configuration.

Interestingly, the top-spec Magnite derivative in India features LED headlamps, cruise control, the aforementioned 360-degree around-view camera and tyre-pressure monitor, as well as an all-black interior. Nissan will also offer an optional Technology Package, which includes a wireless charging pad, air purifier, ambient mood lighting, puddle lamps, and JBL speakers.

Suffice to say the specifications and prices for the Magnite in the South African market are still being finalised, but we expect most of the previously mentioned features to be offered, depending on whether Nissan has designs on the top end of the compact family car market, or hopes to offer the Magnite primarily as an alternative to lower-end compact hatchbacks.

We’ll bring you updates on the Magnite’s local line-up as soon as more info becomes available. 

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More Nissan Navara production could be heading to SA

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