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Nissan Magnite AMT : Our observations after a day of driving

Get up to speed and you can keep up with the traffic in the city. Upshifts are relatively smooth, but you still get the typical ‘AMT head nod’.

Driving the Nissan Magnite 1.0L NA Petrol AMT

1.0L, 3-cylinder naturally-aspirated engine puts out 71 BHP @ 6,250 rpm and 96 Nm @ 3,500 rpm. It’s mated to a 5-speed automated manual transmission:

While the 1.0L turbo petrol engine of the Magnite is peppy and packs good punch, the same can’t be said for this naturally-aspirated engine. It is, however, the more affordable option, which is why it accounts for a majority of the sales. And now, with the introduction of the AMT variant, Nissan hopes to attract some more customers.

Take your foot off the brake pedal and the car crawls forward. Yes, it has a creep function, and you’ll reach 6 km/h without any throttle input. There is a bit of hesitance while setting off and it’s not as smooth as conventional automatics, but you’ll get used to it soon enough. Adding a bit of accelerator input sees the car lunge forward, so you have to be careful with the application at slow speeds. In bumper-to-bumper traffic, particularly, this can get annoying. People who’ve never driven an automatic before will find not mind this, but those who have driven conventional automatic cars, it can be an irritant. The good thing is that the car comes with hill start assist which helps when you’re crawling up an incline.

Get up to speed and you can keep up with the traffic in the city. Upshifts are relatively smooth, but you still get the typical ‘AMT head nod’. Predicting the shift points and lifting off the throttle helps ever so slightly, but it’s still not as smooth as the Hyundai AMTs with electronic actuators. Put your foot down to close a gap and while the gearbox is quick to respond with a downshift or two, the engine struggles to keep up with the demand. There’s plenty of engine noise as the revs climb, but you’ll be left wanting for more power. Better to drive this car sedately for a smoother driving experience. There are no drive modes like in the Punch, but the Magnite AMT fairs slightly better than the Tata in the city.

Out on the highway, cruising in the Magnite AMT is what you should be doing. The gearbox is upshift friendly and you will see it shift to 5th gear when the speedo hits 55 km/h. Reaching 100 km/h isn’t too cumbersome and the Magnite can handle relaxed driving pretty well. Try extracting some performance out of the engine, and you will be disappointed. The power delivery is pretty linear and while it doesn’t taper off as the revs climb, the progress is pretty slow. What’s worse is that the engine noise gets annoying at high revs as it doesn’t sound sporty, but is very strained. Kickdown response from cruising speeds isn’t that great either and you will need to plan your overtakes in advance. Flooring the accelerator from 100 km/h or 80 km/h sees the gearbox drop just one gear which makes the progress pretty slow. We’d recommend you shift to Manual mode and drop down two gears if there’s a need for a quick overtake.

All in all, the Magnite AMT makes sense for someone who’s on a tight budget and wants the convenience of an automatic. For someone who’s primarily going to be doing single-foot driving, and can spend more, be sure to ask the dealership for a test drive of the Magnite CVT before finalising the deal.

Noise, Vibration & Harshness (NVH)

While Nissan claims to have improved the NVH levels of the Magnite, this is still a 3-cylinder engine and comes with all the inherent traits of one. There’s cabin shake when you start the car and you can feel some vibrations through the steering wheel, pedals and even the seat. At low revs, the NVH levels are tolerable, but go higher up the rev range and the engine gets loud and sounds strained, particularly above 4,000 rpm. Wind and tyre noise are well controlled at highway speeds.

Mileage & Fuel Economy

The claimed fuel efficiency of the Magnite AMT is 19.70 km/l which is 0.35 km/l more than that of the MT. You don’t get an ECO drive mode or idling start / stop system like in the Tata Punch to bump up that fuel efficiency number.

Magnite is still not E20 fuel compliant. Fuel tank capacity is 40 litres:

Suspension

The Magnite comes with a McPherson strut suspension with a stabiliser bar at the front and twin tube telescopic shock absorbers at the rear. There is no major noticeable difference between the 1.0L naturally aspirated AMT variant that we drove and the 1.0L turbo petrol variant we drove during our review in 2020.

Ride Comfort

While almost all the crossovers in this segment have a firm edge to the ride (due to their height), the low-speed ride quality of the Magnite is even firmer than you would expect! While the ride is still liveable, it still takes some time getting used to. Even medium-sized potholes make their presence felt inside. Urban ride comfort will be the biggest complaint of Magnite owners. The ride feels a little more comfortable on the expressway, but never plush. Blame this partly on the 36 PSI tyre pressure that is recommended by Nissan. We tried dropping it to 32 PSI and while that did improve matters, we still felt everything on the road! Nissan should have softened things for imperfect Indian roads. All variants of the Magnite are equipped with 16" wheels shod with 195/60 section rubber. The car’s tyres could have been taller. This would have ensured that the wheel wells would be filled and improved the ride quality as well.

Handling & Dynamics

As is the case with most monocoque crossovers, the Magnite is very easy & car-like to drive, whether in the city or on the highway. On the open road, straight-line stability at high speeds is satisfactory. The car doesn’t feel twitchy over bumps & undulations.

Coming to handling, the Magnite’s firm suspension helps. The car remains composed even when pushed through corners. While there is some body roll, it's not excessive. You can even hustle the car through a series of twisty roads confidently. All the variants are equipped with ESP which can be a lifesaver in an emergency manouveur.

Wheels & Tyres

Grip from the 195/60 MRF Wanderer tyres is acceptable for the Magnite AMT’s performance.

Steering

The electric power steering is light and smooth at parking / city speeds. Along with its small size, this makes for a very easy car to drive in urban conditions. Further, its turning radius of 5.0 m is the tightest in the segment. On the highway, the steering weighs up enough and is never nervous or overly sensitive. On the flip side, enthusiasts will find the steering to be slow, vague & having weight that's too artificial.

Ground Clearance

The Magnite comes with an unladen ground clearance rating of 205 mm, which is more than enough to take on the worst of Indian roads.

Braking

The Magnite is equipped with disc brakes at the front and drums at the rear, with ABS + EBD and hydraulic brake assist (HBA). The brakes perform as expected. Do note that the second half of the brake pedal travel is quite sensitive, this will take a couple of km to get used to.

Continue reading the discussion on the Nissan Magnite AMT on our forum.

 
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